The second week in January can have a flatness about it. Not only have all the festivities ended on 6th of the month and the decorations and lights are packed away for another year; but the days are still short, cold, dark and sometimes dismal.
So with all the New Year’s resolutions on the go – folk squashing December’s over indulgent bodies into spandex and trainers after taking out a gym subscription, Weight-watchers and Slimming World classes filling up fast, and everyone back to school and work; people think of ways of cheering themselves up.
Luckily the Pantomimes are usually still running so that’s one way of beating the blues or if there is any cash left over there are plenty of sales about where one can grab a bargain.
I recall one such January when my naturally red headed friend – who actually hated her own colour and dyed it a deep brown – decided that I needed brightening up and suggested I try a dye that would enhance my look.
We headed for Newcastle, traipsed around the Grainger Market and Northumberland Street but couldn’t find what we were looking for. We headed to the top of Percy Street to the Handyside Arcade which was full of little quirky shops. I remember the Kard Bar always being busy as it was the fashion to fill your bedroom wall with posters. As we mused around drinking in the atmosphere, we came across what we were looking for in a shop named Bazzarre. It sold among other things, afghan coats, woven cloth handbags, joss sticks and patchouli oil.
Among the hair products was my friends suggested choice, so I bought it there and then without hesitation, trusting her judgement implicitly.
After a couple of milky coffees in Mark Toney’s and a look down the Cloth Market we headed home to experiment, as it was our Saturday night out and we needed time to get ready.
Bearing in mind the closest I’d got to dyeing my hair was using Wella’s ‘Shaders’ and Harmony’s wash in wash out, this was a big step.
Surprised to see the contents of my purchase was sludgy green and smelt like mulched grass clippings, my friend advised me that all was well and the results would be worth waiting for.
Wearing rubber gloves she mixed together the henna powder with water and plastered it onto my newly washed hair securing a plastic carrier bag around my head with an elastic band. I sat on a hard kitchen chair with an old towel draped round my shoulders catching the green slime as it ran down my forehead and into my eyes. As there was no indication on the packaging of how long to leave it on my friend suggested an hour would suffice saying she would go off and get bathed while the hair processing took place. Unable to read the pages in ‘Cosmopolitan’ as my eyes were watering, I day dreamed of shades of red.
As a child I remember being enamoured by a picture of Mary Magdalene’s soft subtle tones I’d seen in a copy of Butler’s ‘Lives of the Saints’, which just happened to be on my Auntie Rose’s book shelf. But other than that I had never aspired to becoming a redhead!
When my scalp started to sting I shouted for assistance hoping the concoction hadn’t had an adverse effect.
When the plastic bag was removed my head resembled a cow pat. After shampooing and rinsing it several times I returned from the bathroom with my head wrapped in a muddy towel.
It was not until my hair dried that the true colour was revealed. My friends response, ‘Well, it’s definitely taken’ was an understatement.
My fine light brown locks had been transformed into a ball of burnt orange that showed no sign of fading.
As luck or misguided misfortune would have it I’d bought a black skirt with a matching red and black jumper for my night out.
When I turned up at ‘The Trades’ one of my bright spark mates commented on my appearance, pointing out to the whole club that I bore a distinct resemblance to Minnie then Minx!