My kid brother J has muscled in on the Barnet Bulletin by challenging me to a hair race. He's had his shaved to as close to my length as he could get, and we're now racing each other to see who can grow it the quickest. On your marks, get set, go...
Is it weird that I'm a bit jealous of J's sideburns?
Anyway, if, when you look at that photograph, your reaction is to leave a comment saying something along the lines of, 'you could definitely get away without wearing a wig/headscarf now,' let me stop you right there. Because 'you could get away with it' is ALL I'VE HEARD from the well-meaning family members and select friends who I've allowed a good, close-up look of what's underneath my cranium covering of choice. Thanks all the same, like, but I'm sick of hearing it. Consider it the hair-regrowth equivalent of being told how much I look like my Mum.
Here's the thing: I don't want to 'get away with it'. I want to look fabulous. And I want to do it quicker than my brother. So, until then (early May, by my calculations), I'll be keeping up the pretense, be it beneath a headscarf or wig or hat or paper bag. I want it to be like an episode of Extreme Makeover, with an impressive Big Reveal at the end, when all the work is done – albeit cutting and colouring instead of botox and a boob job. (Actually, does half a boob job count?)
Probably conscious that its days are numbered, I've actually been taking the wig option more often of late, despite the fact that what's growing underneath makes wearing it even more uncomfortable. Plus, I reckon I'll miss making that relieved 'ahh' noise whenever I take it off. (Also applicable to being released from handcuffs, the first sip of lager on a hot day and taking off your high heels in the cab home.) Back in my early wig-wearing days – when my hair was falling out fast, but I wasn't quite bald (the Bobby Charlton stage, if you will) – I bought a little lycra cap that's specially designed for wig-wearers to flatten what remains beneath the syrup, ensuring a better wig-fit. It was a bit like pulling a pop sock over my head. If I'd yanked it down over my eyes, I'd have been one swag bag and a stripy jumper away from turning into a cartoon bank robber. But the pop sock worked, and I suspect that, if I keep up the current wig-wearing status quo with the barnet I'm now growing, I'll be forced to head back to one of the wig shops I swore I'd never again set foot in to buy myself a new hair-flattening device.
I've not ditched the headscarf altogether. It's just that, lately, I've found myself in a few wig-necessary situations. Passport control, for one. What's the protocol on hair loss and passport photos? (See, that's the kind of thing those 'welcome to cancer' leaflets should tell you. I want practicalities, dammit, not a namby-pamby side-panel on 'understanding your emotions'.) In my passport photo, I'm a tanned lass with long, blonde hair (who, inexplicably, looks like she's overdone the valium). But the reality now is, of course, different (I look like I've overdone the Veet, not the valium). So does that necessitate a new passport photo? Would they stop me if I went through airport security in a headscarf, and publicly humiliate me by forcing me to run it through the X-ray machine with my boots, then carry it on board in a see-through plastic bag? Are headscarves now up there with matches, tweezers and copies of the Qur'an as terrorist-suspicion-arousing signals? (Piss-taker that he is, J goes to the other extreme when flying, never travelling without his reading material of The 9/11 Report and Inside The Jihad. Not the recommended way to get an upgrade, I imagine.) All of this only occurred to me the night before our trip to Rome so, to save my blushes, I reached for the rug in the hope that it'd just look like I'd had a haircut, and not had my head shaved by some loony School For Terrorists. Not that the wig stopped me acting suspiciously when I handed over my passport, mind. I put on my very best show of I-get-on-flights-to-Italy-all-the-time nonchalance (chewing gum + headphones + fiddling with iPhone = seasoned traveller), but couldn't do much to disguise the shaking hands, sweaty palms and hot flush. They let me through anyway, of course. I'm sure even airport security staff would rather mess with a terrorist than an early menopausal woman.
Then there's the recommended wig-wearing business of being a tourist in Rome. And not just because I suspect the fashion-conscious Italians would be more receptive to a Hermes headscarf than my H&M one. Nope, tourism = photo-taking, and I was buggered if I was going to look back on family photos of everyone gathered around an obvious-looking cancer patient posing unsteadily outside the Colosseum, like a doddery old dear on day release from the nursing home. There are very few photos in existence of me in a headscarf, and I'm keeping it that way.
All that said, I found out the hard way that certain city-sightseeing situations are less rug-receptive than others. Tourism Tip For Cancer Patients #1: wigs and open-top buses don't mix.