Sunday, 31 July 2011

Ten Years of My Hair

I have had hair for the majority of my life, as is the case with many human beings. It's been very short, and very long, and several different colours, although never shaved off or leopard printed or dread-locked. I've mainly left it to its own devices over the past 18 months, but recently I've been thinking of dying it again. But what colour?

2001 - my 16th birthday - shoulder length; orange and black (NB it was never meant to be orange, the bright red faded out over summer)
2002 - at 17 it was long and auburn with black underneath
2003 - when I turned 18 I decided to grow out the colour, mainly because the condition was quite bad after four years of constant lightening and reddening. When I finished school a month before my birthday it was very long, and various shades of red and brown.
2004 - at 19 I got all the dyed bits cut off and had a mousey brown chin length bob. The hairdresser was quite distressed at having to cut off such a lot in one go. I was unperturbed.
2005 - in May I dyed a stripe at the front and the tips pink for the Rock Soc ball. When this faded out to a dirty blonde, I went over it so when I turned 20 it was mainly purple.
2006 - I put a pink stripe in over the purple, then when that faded out went full purple again for my 21st birthday. If you type the word 'purple' enough times it starts to lose meaning...
2007 - 22 seemed a good age to go for a sensible chestnut brown, generally worn long and straight, but occasionally in pleats.
2008 - at 23 I got it cut a bit shorter with some layers. I tended to let it dry naturally most of the time so that it waved quite nicely. I also accidentally went an even darker brown that looked almost black in some light...
2009 - having been purple for several months I let it fade out again to this reddy colour. This photo is from the end of the summer, but in November I had a fringe cut in and re-did the purple again.
2010 - January was the last time it was dyed, guess what colour? Oh right, there's a picture. I've pretty much left it alone since then.
2011 - aged 26 it's now mainly two shades of brown - my natural mousey colour down to my ears, and a more reddy shade where it remembers the dye times.

I'm considering going back to a sort of auburn/red-brown shade again, although the problem there is of course the fade-to-orange issue. Not that I'd be lightening it beforehand or choosing a scarlet red like when I was fifteen...

So, any thoughts on this, blogosphere? I realise that worrying about the colour of my hair is frivolous in today's political and economic climate, but frankly that is what the internet is for.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Festival Chic

Last week, Captain Tact and I went to Latitude Festival in Suffolk. You can read a summary of what we saw there on the 12 books in 12 months blog, but over this way I will of course be discussing our attempts at festival chic.

Now, there's no real point in trying to look good at a festival - particularly not a wet one, which this was. Your hair will go disgusting, and however many wet wipes you use there'll still be at least one patch of mud you miss.

The best thing to do is to ensure you are warm and dry, and that your alcohol intake is sufficient to keep your mood sunny enough to counteract the weather.

To this end, might I present the Peter Storm kag in a bag - a model boasting comically short sleeves and a hood that falls down over your eyes and obscures any pesky bands from view. Fabulous.

Here we are in our waterproofs about to enjoy Suede (yeah I know, remember Suede?!) as the tempest re-groups behind us. Aren't we gorgeous. No? Have a cider and think about that some more.

The great thing about waterproofs (other than their inherent sexiness) is of course the noise the material makes whenever you have the audacity to move. That's brilliant, isn't it. And because it was so wet, some people had fashioned binbag ponchos to wear over the top of their existing macs. They sounded positively musical. In a crap way.

Looking back at this picture, it seems clear we were experiencing a certain level of bin bag envy. Next time, maybe.

Then there was the footwear situation. I had to buy wellies, on account of not being one of nature's welly owners. This is because my calves are too fat - you'll notice I had to fold them down, and even then I ended up with a big welt in the back of my leg. Not ideal, yet a problem experienced by all women I know. Somebody should do something.

Still, at least we weren't this guy. Why is it that some people, as soon as they get near a festival, feel impelled to wear their pyjamas outside and purchase a variety of silly hats? Several people were sporting Viking helmets, mohawk wigs, and various other headgear you'd never wear outside a festival context. Or in one, arguably... but that might just be me.

It's probably related to holiday high spirits, but these items are sold at vastly inflated prices (ooh, a hand felted pixie hat for only £15! The pixies usually pay £20 a pop, I must have it!) only to be left blowing around the empty campsite on Monday morning. Which is ironic cause Latitude is big on recycling and reducing your carbon footprint and so on - the bulk of this shite is not biodegradable. I guess birds could make nests out of some of it, but that's my optimism shining through.

It was nice to have a break, but thank goodness we are back to normality where I can carry on being my naturally stylish (and more crucially, clean) self.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Hosiery II: Dark Territory

Apologies, dear reader, for I know I have already blogged about tights in relation to the bootylicious lady (or man, we’re not prejudiced here - I deny all pear shaped people the right to combine patterned tights with hot pants, irrespective of gender)... but I feel I must speak out on the subject of tan tights in the style of a bad observational comedian.

So you know tan tights, yeah? You tend to have a couple of pairs in reserve for things like weddings and job interviews, and occasionally making oddly shaped dummies for school art projects, but they aren’t the hosiery of choice. This, of course, is because they are ridiculously fragile.

As a general rule they come in packs of two, and I tend to ladder the first pair through the simple act of opening the box and looking at them. The second pair may get as far as a second wearing before I put my finger right through, which could happen when I’m in the process of being late for an event; but is 98% more likely when I’m already there and about to be seen by several people, or possibly photographed.

T’other day I donned tan tights for the very simple reason that they were the first to come to hand and I was horrendously late for work. I was pretty suspicious when they went on without catching on anything (fingernails, my ring and the odd rogue leg hair were all present, correct, and sharp as ever), but I chose not to question it any further lest they take the huff and disintegrate.

They lasted til I went to spend a penny at break time, at which point three fingers went through and created an enormous rip near the top of my leg. This was a masterstroke on the part of the tights, because it meant that the hole would start out invisible to the passing viewer but would gradually ladder all the way down my leg throughout the course of the day. Every time I moved a few more threads would go, and only I would be aware of the inexorable decimation of nylon.

By lunchtime the arrangement of ladders had spread down in all directions to just below my knee, and by the time I got home I looked like a snake trying to wriggle out of an old skin. Well, my left leg did. A bit. Sorry, I’m out of good similes.

Naturally this whole experience raised several deeply important questions.

Q. Why not take the holey tights off and stop moaning?
A. Cause I hate the feeling of my thighs rubbing together, and am not prescient enough to carry a spare pair of tights everywhere I go.

Q. What are tan tights made out of?
A. Cobwebs, I assume, or possibly moonbeams. Something flimsy and insubstantial, at any rate.

Q. How much truth do you think there is in the conspiracy theory about the Mossad offing John F. Kennedy?
A. None, but it’s a fantastic story of paranoia and madness.

And on that bombshell, I bid you good day. And good luck.

Monday, 11 July 2011


I don't really wear a lot of makeup, partly due to laziness and partly due to not really knowing where to start on the wondrous canvas that is my face. The only thing I bother with (and even then sporadically due to my inability to cope with early morning starts) is eye makeup, and by 'makeup' I mainly mean eyeliner and mascara. Of which I generally only have one at a time.*

Currently I have a Rimmel eyeliner pencil which professes to be jet black, and a Rimmel mascara known as 'MAX VOLUME FLASH!!!!!!!!!!!' in ultra black. Is the difference between these two types of black important? I don't know. It's not particularly noticeable.

Anyhoo, one thing my brain can justify having more than one of is eyeshadow. After all, you need to have different colours to set off your different clothes. I am aware this only works if you have more than about five outfits, but I'm working on that - next time I get paid for an article, BAM, I'll be up to six before you can say 'but have you paid the gas bill?'.

What I'm saying is, I have a bunch of eyeshadows in weird and wonderful colours, most of which have been bought for one off occasions and barely worn. I've got two 'going out' colours (shades of grey) that I use on a semi-regular basis, and then there are some random glittery and colourful ones; none more beautiful than the two I bought for an 80s themed party when I was still at university. I love the colours, and if it were in any way appropriate to wear them on a daily basis I surely would.

They are from the Collection 2000 'Dazzle Me!' range, which was a strange and beautiful thing. My only regret now is that I didn't say sod it and buy the whole set when I still could. The pink one is called 'Illusion', and the green is 'Tinkerbell', which seems fitting inasmuch as any names arbitrarily given to colours or makeup, paint, or nail polish ever are.

Because these bad boys are loose 'eye dust' rather than packed down eyeshadow, they're fairly annoying to apply, as you tend to get sprinkles of the stuff all about the rest of your face and on your clothes. This is OK if, like me, you don't bother with foundation, blusher, or even a coat of eyeliner on the underside of the eye. But I imagine it's fairly irritating if you do go through all that rigmarole and then get fluorescent pink bits clinging to it.

Still, worth the hassle when you get it on, am I right? Look how vibrant they are! Although I wouldn't advise going out with each eye done in different shades, this was for the purpose of showing you what it looks like. Although if you're in a rush to get somewhere and you don't want anyone to talk to you...

I actually have a pair of converse somewhere near this colour, but sadly I've not been invited to any events where matching footwear to eye makeup is required in recent years. Or ever, now I come to think of it. I've worn this shade a couple of times, once to the aforementioned 80s party and a couple of times blended with more neutral shades so it wasn't quite so offensively pink.

Meanwhile I've worn the green (blended with a more neutral colour again) about twice; to my Graduation Ball because it matched my dress, and to a wedding at which I wore the same dress. I don't think I've ever worn it out in all its naked glory. Although this picture has just about convinced me it's OK if I open my eyes wide enough, so maybe I'll stick some on in the loos at work tomorrow and gauge the reactions.

Probably not though.

*This is not common practice, judging by the volume of stuff owned by more proficient makeup connoisseurs of my acquaintance.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Skincare Regimes

There is no excuse not to know about skincare in this day and age. Even men (yes, men! The species who traditionally don't even have skin!) know about it, thanks to the tireless efforts of Patrick Dempsey to make as much cash as he can before he gets too craggy looking; and Nivea's spurious quest to link their skincare range to the England football team.

If TV is to be believed we all cleanse, tone, exfoliate and moisturise as if our lives depend on it, or at least between two and eight times a day. Except nobody I know actually sticks to any such regime for longer than about a month, at which point they forget all about it till they get an enormous spot or a particularly annoying dry bit on their forehead and start the process over again.

The same skin nonchalance applies to sunblock. As soon as you get a nice weekend like the one we have just enjoyed in Edinburgh, all the information we've ever heard about skin cancer or winding up with a face like a pickled walnut exits the brain stage left as we fly outdoors to soak up as much Vitamin D as possible before it's gone for another year.

And I have to confess that although I am an educated sort, I'm no better than I ought to be in terms of protecting myself against the RAYS OF DEATH. I forced Captain Tact to accompany me out into the open today, to read for an hour or two in the comfort of the Botanic Gardens. He was worried he might burn, so I witheringly instructed him to apply sun cream as bought by sensible flatmate before our departure. For myself, I decided I was of altogether more Mediterranean complexion and that it was kind of overcast anyway, so went without.

Naturally I caught the sun, although only really on my right side for reasons unknown. And I fear my predilection for wearing pink doesn't help matters.

Still, at least my career isn't build on having baby smooth skin a la the aforementioned Monsieur Dempsey. And maybe it'll learn me for next year. Or not...