There you are, captive, at the mercy of the person who is about to judge exactly how diligently to wield their scissors to the right effect. Or the nail technician hovering over your extremities with their clippers. (OK, so I want to be gender-neutral, but let’s face it, it’s a woman more often than not.) You’d better not bore them with your chit-chat or they could easily take their revenge.
I went for years to the same taciturn stylist at Toni and Guy in Bromley. I’ve historically been so terrible with my hair that for 7 long years I was far too intimidated to chat with him. Thinking about it, it was a time in my life when I was intimidated by anyone, so we sat there for an hour every few weeks in a companionable stony silence, him working on my hair, with the eventual sound of the hairdryer the mutual excuse for our lack of any conversation whatsoever.
When you’ve been to the same hairstylist for years, it’s not a problem. You find an equalibrium and pick up where you left off last time. The whole of my family goes to the same hairdresser’s – Beckenham’s Premier Salon – so there’s always something to chat or moan about, but our conversations are usually way more wide-ranging than where we’re going on holiday. Recent chats have been on subjects as diverse as Eastern philosophy and the US healthcare system, for example. We have fallen into a gender-sterotypical pattern, though: MsDD and I chat while the “awkward” boys decidedly do not.
Similarly, I’ve had the same nail technician at Bluewater for about 18 months. She was there when I was going thorough all the strife and bureaucratic maelstrom with my mum, and she always chatted away happily and retained enough of my verbal garbage to be able to ask about it four weeks later which, if you think about the number of clients she sees daily, is pretty remarkable.
But now, because of NailsInc’s persistent refusal to stock more than 4 Biosculpture colours combined with my notorious #lowboredomthreshold, I am trying a new nail salon. I know. I sit there, captive, while a lady called Megan first coats my old gel nails in cottonwool, acetone and foil, then prises the disintegrated gel off the nails and then reapplies it in seemingly thousands of stages. The whole process takes about an hour. What to say?
No, I’m not going out tonight. (Well, I am but it’s an old fogies’ pub quiz at the George.) Yes, I am sort of going on holiday this year but it’s four days on tour with the Youth Band in Andalusia because there is no money left after our kitchen extension. No, I’ve no plans for the weekend seeing as it is in the middle of my daughter’s exams.
I am one of those people who, given a stressful enough situation, will fill silences. Those who follow me on Twitter will have been aware of this for years. I can’t help it: my brain is awash with randomness, most of which I feel deserves to be shared with anyone who’ll listen and several who won’t.
Poor Megan. Goodness knows what she thought of my tirade against those evil stupid people who would deny less well-off children the access to the arts and music at school; how did she receive my random thoughts on dementia care in the UK as compared with that of India, or of the relative strength of the bureaucracies in these countries. Let’s face it, she probably doesn’t really care that my building work is probably a couple of weeks behind schedule due to supplier delays and problems with past contractors and yet she is as much of a captive as me.