Thursday 2 August 2007

"I'm just a boy with a new haircut"

"Baldness" - taken at Glastonbury and courtesy of Statue John

I know this is a statement of the bleeding obvious, but I'm bald. Well, balding anyway.

A fellow slaphead at work was telling me the other day how he forgot to take a hat with him to the Cambridge Folk Festival and as a result had burned the top of his head. I sympathised with him. I've been there. Although I might like to think that my baldness is restricted to a forehead that's getting ever bigger, the truth is that my once luxuriant and shaggy mane of curls is getting decidedly thin on top too. Luckily I've worn my hair short for years, so it's not much bother keeping it clippered and thus avoid any unfortunate stacking of thicker hair against thinner hair. In the last ten years I've moved from a grade four to a grade three to a grade two. Nowadays I ask the barber for a one-and-a-half on top and a one around the edges. I'm under no illusions that this progression is going to inevitably lead me at some point to a completely shaved head.

You know what? It really doesn't bother me.

Someone first pointed out to me that I might be losing my hair back in 1994. I was in the middle of my term in Venice, and instead of going out and looking for a hairdresser, I let my friend Mark cut my hair. He introduced me to Scott Walker, so when he offered, how could I not entrust him with my hair? When he had finished, I looked in the mirror and it seemed as though I had a little bald patch on either side at the front of my head. I accused him of botching the job. He accused me of going bald. We laughed. I forgot about it. I was twenty years old and I had no idea that it was going to be all downhill from there.

Has it affected my life? Who knows, but I shouldn't think it's made much of a difference except that I now own a lot of hats. At twenty and long out of school, I was old enough not to be teased by anyone about my hair-loss. I got my first serious girlfriend shortly afterwards, so I've never associated lack of hair with a lack of success with women (just my general ineptitude).... so apart from not getting through very much shampoo and no longer owning a hairbrush, it doesn't really worry me. In fact, I find the whole process fascinating, as I do watching the hair that remains turn grey....

What can you do? And no, I'm not interested in taking any drugs to make my hair grow back, thanks very much (and especially not when one of the side-effects can be a loss of libido. What kind of a trade-off is that? Hair for sex? No thanks.). Nor am I interested in dyeing my hair. I don't judge those who do, but I've simply never felt the need.

Still, at least I now definitively know the answer to a question that has been vaguely troubling me for the best part of the last twenty-five years: when I was seven years old, I had a great big mop of hair, and I used to damp it down in the morning with cold water before brushing it and heading off to breakfast. I was warned that if I continued to do this, I was certain to go bald. Clearly this was nonsense. Even at that tender age I had a working grasp of simple genetics: my dad and both of my grandfathers had full heads of hair, so how likely was it really that I would go bald, eh? I laughed in the face of my potential baldness and continued damping down my hair every morning, shrugging my shoulders and saying that if and when I did go bald, I'd simply have to put it down to the damping.... but not before.

Well, now we know.

Don't do it kids.


  1. When I was undergoing the whole suspected PCOS nightmare, one of my biggest worries was that if I did have it, would I start to lose my hair? A common symptom. Because bald men can look very sexy, but bald women generally don't.

    I was obviously delighted to get the all-clear for all the right reasons, but the vain part of me was most thrilled about not having to worry about going bald.

    That said, I have often been asked if my hair's a wig anyway...

  2. I spent most of my twenties with a shaved head. The day I went back to school, I decided to grow my hair out. Here I am, three years later, heading into my senior year with hair down to the middle of my back.

    Somedays I miss the simplicity of being bald. The only way to go is either one extreme or the other.

  3. In my family, either you go bald or you go grey. My elder brother has gone bald and my eldest brother has gone grey.

    I'm not going bald.

    But I did use to dampen down my hair when I was younger.

    So go figure.

  4. I believe that baldness runs genetically through the mother's side. So, if your maternal grandfather is/was balding, you have a good chance of going bare-headed yourself.

    Luckily, I don't have to worry about any of this anyway.

    And ditto on what Cat said about bald men looking sexy.