Wrapped Up In YouBy: Carole Matthews
A big thanks to Gemma, who very kindly helped me with the research into what it’s like to have a relationship with a Maasai warrior. To our friends Ann and Ash who, rather rashly, accompanied us on this trip. Also to our lovely guide, Benjamin Waiganjo – in the happy bus – who made our trip to the Maasai Mara so very enjoyable.
To the beautiful people of Kenya – particularly to those in our camp who made us so welcome. Also to the kind people in the Maasai village who shared their homes and their culture with us. I’ve tried to be as authentic as possible, but sometimes I just had to take liberties. The Mara is such a stunning place to visit and far exceeded our expectations. Everyone should go once in a lifetime.
To Anthony ‘Captain Baldy’ Kirkby for the notes on boats. To Martin Furminger, next door, for the idea about taking Dominic to the Snowdome. To Mr and Ms Codling-Bentham for having a very exciting bonfire party. Albeit unintentionally. And, once again, to the inimitable Mr Owen Earl for supplying the expert snowboarding advice and know-how with the barest minimum of that ‘P’ word that we now don’t mention. You and Sharon are lovely friends. It’s not everyone you’d want to sit in hot water with on a regular basis. Finally, to Lovely Kev, who always gets a mention in dispatches for services above and beyond the call of duty. This time it’s for stopping wild animals eating me and for letting me have all the hot water from the bucket shower. They don’t make them like you any more, love.
Mrs Norman comes in to see me at Cutting Edge at ten o’clock every Friday morning without fail. She likes to look nice for the weekend as she goes ballroom dancing on Friday and Saturday nights at the Conservative club and, since Mr Norman died two years ago, she’s on the lookout for a new man. Someone neat. Someone who doesn’t drink. Someone exactly like Mr Norman. Life alone, she reminds me every week, is not all it’s cracked up to be. Tell me about it.
Methodically, I comb her age-thinned hair into neat sections and put the last of the rollers into her old-fashioned, brick-set hairdo. I’d like to do something radical to her hair that would take a few years off her and maybe help her snare that elusive man. Put on a bit of honey-coloured mousse to warm the silver grey perhaps, or cut it so that it sweeps forward and feathers onto her face. But Mrs Norman will not be swayed. She knows what she likes – tight sausages of curls and a can of lacquer to hold it in place – and has had the same immovable hairstyle for the last ten years that I’ve been doing it.
Mind you, if I didn’t work in a hairdressing salon, perhaps I’d stick to the same cut too. As it is, I let the juniors practise on me with varying degrees of success. Now I am a block-coloured brunette, a rich chocolate brown the colour of my eyes, with a chippy pixie cut. But I have had many incarnations in the past twenty years. I think this suits me more than some of my other styles (the curly perm was a memorable mistake) as my face is small, heart-shaped and my skin pale. I haven’t embraced the whole fake tan thing – way too much trouble. Plus, who wants to smell like a rotting apple every time you apply it?
‘How’s your love life then, young Janie?’ Mrs Norman asks as she breaks into my musings. She asks me the same question every single time I do her hair. I’m constantly disappointed that I have nothing to report.
I raise my eyebrows at her. ‘I could ask you the same.’ My client is seventy-five and, frankly, sees a lot more action than I do at forty years her junior.
She giggles at that. ‘Men these days.’ She shakes her head in despair and I narrowly avoid stabbing her with the sharp end of my tail comb. ‘All they want is sex, sex, sex!’
I do hope not at Mrs Norman’s age.
‘That Viagra has a lot to answer for. There used to be a natural time when interest in “things like that”,’ she mouths that bit into the mirror, ‘used to wane. But not now. Oh no. They expect to still be doing it until they’re ninety. Twice a night.’ More head shaking. ‘All I want is someone to take a turn around the dance floor with me and perhaps share a nice meal or two. I don’t want the Last Tango in Paris.’
She makes me smile. I hope when I’m her age I have as much go in me. Come to think of it, I wish I had as much now. Finishing off the set, I tie a pink hairnet over the top. ‘Let’s get you under the dryer.’
Mrs Norman picks up her handbag and follows me towards the back of the salon to where our two dryers are. I sit her down and find some magazines for her. She likes the more lurid ones, chock full of gossip: Closer, Heat and Now.