The Herald - The Herald Magazine

Rab McNeil


HAIR has been much in the news this week. Before I examine this phenomenon authoritat­ively, let me first state that I have no intention of adding to the disgracefu­l persecutio­n of bald people that we have seen in some quarters in recent times.

Bald people may have looser moral values than the rest of us, and only a fool would lend them money, but that is no fault of their own. It is the result of a hormonal imbalance that leaves them prey to lewd and libidinous thoughts, and impervious to ethical considerat­ions. Accordingl­y, they are more to be pitied than scolded.

As for people with hair, where do you start? If anything, they are even worse. I should know. I’ve met some of them. Ghastly. And they are the majority. It is their concerns that have dominated the news pages during lockdown.

One friend of mine has taken to wearing a hat, so ashamed is he of his unkempt, plague-induced barnet. Accordingl­y, when it was announced that lockdown restrictio­ns were being lifted, joy was unconfined among such fellows.

Regular readers ken coiffure means cack all to moi. I have cut my own hair for many years. Sure, the results are mixed. There are big long bits at the back. The sides are all wonky. And the top is a disaster. It looks like I have three different heads. But what does it matter? I have no intention of attending a discothequ­e soon. I am not looking for a wife.

Here’s a shock revelation: I only use hair shampoo about once every six months, and then sparingly. Seriously, you don’t need it. Does more harm than good.

It has struck me that, while I regard myself as well adjusted and everyone else as peculiar, such revelation­s might make me seem eccentric. You picture me in the near future wearing shapeless trousers held up by a belt of rope. But that isn’t going to happen. I never wear trousers.

The reason for the public prints being full of follicles is that research from the University of Exeter claimed that women who don’t dye their grey hair risk social rejection and being seen as incompeten­t or having “let themselves go”. Pretty big claims.

I should come clean here and admit I’m not, and never have been, a woman. Supposedly, greyness matters less to men and can even make some look distinguis­hed (those lucky sods who go silver).

A middle-aged boozing buddy of mine went grey early. Suited him fine. On cultural evenings out, I’d just get sloshed and go home, whereas he’d get sloshed and head for a nightclub. At his age! “In the darkness, they think your grey hair is blond,” he confided. Though he did admit that, once outside when they realised their mistake, his tea was oot. Women have been dancing in the streets of their locked down homes at the prospect of getting their hair profession­ally “coloured” again. Serious question: are there any real blondes left? I believe not. Perhaps one woman in Finland. What’s wrong with going grey anyway? Some women in the Exeter study said they didn’t like “pretending” they were something else. Others say staying grey “empowers” them. “Silver sisters” online proclaim: “Ditch the dye!”

I’m uncomforta­bly aware that I’m discussing matters beyond my pay grade. I like to think of this column as a safe space for inadequate men and am tempted to conclude with another go at baldies. But, no, let us all unite around an insouciant attitude to hair: bald men, normal men, women with dyed hair and women who stay grey. For it is not what is on your head that matters but what is in it.

Give me strength

MANY otherwise decent ratepayers will be wearing body armour soon, according to an article on a BBC website.

It’s not defensive armour. We’re not retreating to the Middle Ages, apart from having the plague and wanting to kill people for their opinions. It’s an exoskeleto­n that will give us extra strength and endurance for walking, lifting heavy weights, climbing stairs and DIY.

DIY? Do me a favour. No, seriously. YDI: You Do It. Making me good at DIY would involve me dying and being reincarnat­ed as a proper man. And “Iron Man” is what the exoskeleto­n will make us, according to the hype. There are currently two versions, “one battery-powered and computer-operated, incorporat­ing motors and hydraulics”, according to the Beeb, the other a simpler design with springs and dampeners. They can increase hand strength by 20 per cent and are being trialled by car manufactur­ers.

But what about us, ye punters? “There is no doubt in my mind that these devices will eventually be sold at hardware stores,” says Homayoon Kazeroomi, founder of SuitX in California. Sales are expected to rise exponentia­lly in the next decade.

Prices at present are rickidoodo­lus, up to $45,000, but if they come down to around £9.99 then even

I may consider investing in one – particular­ly if it can help me open a packet of biscuits or a child-proof container, tasks that have seen me almost hospitalis­ed in the past.

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