Half term. It creeps up you like Christmas and Chlamydia – silent, encroaching and suddenly overwhelming. But it’s times like this that I feel particularly glad I’m freelance.
I’m writing two scripts at the moment, and an article and marking a great deal of work from the Open University Course I’m teaching. That crept up on me as well. As a freelance it’s very hard to turn down work, so one minute you’re convinced that nobody will ever commission you again and the next, you’re frozen in overload panic. I’m not complaining (she whines) but on the brink of half-term, a heavy workload does test my work/life balance and finds it a completely stupid wanky phrase that means nothing!
So with The Boy who cannot be parted from his electrical entertainment, The Girl who needs stimulation and entertainment, and me with my workload, I’m going to visit my mum who lives by the sea, and is so sprightly it’s infuriating. But before we go I take The Girl to get her hair cut, so she looks slightly less scruffy. More importantly if I don’t get her hair sorted, Mum might Get Out the Scissors herself. And that wouldn’t do given some of the Horror Haircuts of my Childhood – far far worse than the horror of half term.
I think mum thought that saying a Hail Mary and (sometimes) wiping the bacon scissors was far more effective than several years of actual hairdressing training. As a result of her efforts, my dad would come home, look at my newly shorn hair and say: “You look like Joan of Arc!” He meant it as a compliment but when I saw the film, and noted that even with her amazing cheekbones, Ingrid Bergman’s hair resembled a seventies Purdy cut by a blind gardener, I cringed at what my hair must have looked like.
Off we trot to the local barber, where men sit in rows, waiting to have proper manly haircuts. They do two types normally – short and very short. But since The Girl started having her hair cut, they’ve added, A Quick Trim to their repertoire. There is none of the usual scent of sprays, lotions and urgency in the air, neither does someone called Leonard ponce about in tight leather trousers screeching: “Who cut your hair?” in a faux Italian accent. Instead, there’s a faint smell of well worn denim, and man dirt. The Girl sits quite happily in the shearing chair, while all around her, tough blokes chat to their crimper. “Yeah so I told him he could fack off”, “Bish bosh smack in the marf” and “Shut it you slaaaag” (no I didn’t accidently walk onto the set of Eastenders), while I read back issues of Nuts. There’s Rate My Uploaded breasts, which is pretty self-explanatory. Flick the page and there are Stupid Signs where doughy men are photographed pointing to signs like Spunk Alley and Turkey Cock Lane. Next page has a picture of a man with a large snake coming out of his nose, followed by an interview with Chanelle from Big Brother, naked, (you suck in that stomach girl!) informing Nuts readers that the idea of a threesome with a Nuts reader really turns her on.
Actually, a onesome with a Nuts reader doesn’t do much for me – considering I’ve had two kids and breastfed both of them, I’m in better shape than most of the beer bellied, saggy arsed, spotty faced pics of male Nuts readers. They seem unaware of the odd disparity between the hot babes they dribble over and the slightly rank, overweight, slack mouthed image they present. Or maybe that’s the point. Despite the girls in every single interview pantingly admitting that girl on girl action with a Nuts reader is their Ultimate Fantasy, there is about as much chance of your average Nuts reader getting it on with a Nuts Babe as there is of Nelson Mandela releasing a three way sex tape with Paris Hilton and Bishop Desmond Tutu. While I totally understand the fury Nuts provokes in many women, I flip it shut feeling pretty good about myself. Well about my tits and arse anyway.