I’m always reminded of how delighted I am that I’m no longer twenty-three when I go and see Cheryl, my hairdresser. She very kindly agreed to squeeze me in for a blow dry before ‘the rush’ on Saturday.
‘What’s the rush?’ I asked.
Cutting a very long reply short – apparently it’s when all the girls come in to be ‘done’ for their night out photo-shoot. Photo-shoot? Yep, you see they get all glammed up – their hair, make-up and nails ‘done’ – and then they pose for each other taking staged party pictures on their phones to be downloaded onto Facebook later when they’re out. Facebook, it seems, means boom business for beauticians.
Why don’t they just take pictures at the time in situ? Well, you see, the lighting is bad in bars and clubs, the flash washes out your make-up, and your hair looks best right after it’s been blow-dried. Being caught ‘not done’ in public is social death. ‘Yeah, you can’t leave the house without being done these days,’ Cheryl warned me.
I thought she was being ridiculous, until yesterday morning, when we were rudely awakened by the recycling lorry at 7 a.m. Swearing, we both raced out of bed. I got the lead, flinging on my tatty old dressing gown and manky slippers. I scooped up the tub of bottles from the back and trotted up the hall with them, dribbling of red wine down my leg and over the carpet.
I darted outside and made it just in time for the lorry men, who scowled at me. Cheryl’s blow dry wasn’t holding out too well after five days and I had monstrous panda eyes.
I was about to hot foot it back inside, when I heard a deep, sexy voice. ‘Hi, I’m Gareth. I’ve been meaning to introduce myself. You’re the writer, right?’
I looked up. It was him. The new neighbour. The ones we’ve been curtain twitching over for days. The ones with a shiny black Merc with clean car seats. But they clearly know all about us too.
I clutched the neck of my dressing gown.
‘And this is Lucinda.’ He turned. And there she was, coming towards us, all white teeth, slo-mo in a halo of perfume. Lucinda. Immaculate. Hair done. Make-up done. ‘This is Jo. The writer,’ Gareth said, looking between me and his gorgeous wife.
Behind them the recycling man emptied my black tub of bottles. There was an almighty crash as they landed. It went on forever. ‘It’s two week’s worth,’ I said pathetically, shaking her manicured hand.
Social death. I should have listened to Cheryl.