Monday, 4 April, 2011
Udon Thani, Thailand
I’m writing this piece as a bald man. I have no hair. None, zilch, zero – and I’ve not taken my unrequested new look overly well. Why exactly do I look like a bowling ball attached to a human body? Well, that would be because I accidentally managed to pick out Sweeney Todd’s place in Thailand when I was in need of a trim.
One afternoon we were short of a plan, so we figured that we would just wander aimlessly down a few streets.
A few minutes into our walk we passed Heaven’s Salon – I am not attempting to over-hype the place, that was literally the shop’s name. The light did seem to shine a little bit more on this building than any other though and every customer had beautiful flowing locks and white gowns on.
In seeing Heaven’s Salon, I started to think about my own barnet and how it needed a touch up. However, I didn’t act on impulse, which would prove to be a vital mistake in the lead up to my hair’s disposal. The walk would see us pass a further two salons as well – perhaps the latter two were not fit for Jesus himself, but I was still stupid to ignore them on hindsight.
I guess somewhere between the reasonable looking barber shops and the one we ended up at, my hair grew to an unbearable length and action would need to be imminent – at least, I can’t think of a better reason to explain why a very puzzled man is sitting here, running his hand along his big, bald scalp looking for answers.
The place I chose had absolutely no appealing features. It was dingy, dark (the entire building appeared black from the outside, even the windows) and just had the word ‘hairdressers’ written in white paint on the door.
We entered at our own risk and were greeted by an extremely jolly hairdresser – his positivity was pretty commendable considering his scenery offered less light than a documentary on the Black Death. That said, he could have just been grateful for human contact – having seen the competition along the street, I will assume that I was the first in quite some time.
Ruby and I repeatedly explained my desired hairstyle (essentially just a trim), even going as far as to motion with finger-scissors – he nodded several times, which in anybody else’s world would be an indication that they understood the request; more fool us. He then took me into the back room, leaving Ruby sitting alone with a magazine and completely oblivious to the massacre that would soon occur behind a curtain.
He sat me down in what appeared to be a dentist chair – maybe his plan was to pull my teeth out once the hair removal was finished? Who knows, I didn’t wait around to find out.
This Jack of all trades turned out to be a bit of a talker and started waffling on about David Beckham before the cut, mostly in Thai. This didn’t feel unusual – people will often say random words or things that are associated with the foreigner’s country at an attempt to create an immediate bond. I was pretty sure that was what was going on here.
However, he wasn’t referencing Beckham due to the British connection. Instead, it was more his subtle way of explaining the desire he had to shave my head.
The most annoying thing is that Beckham has had every hairstyle under the sun, so why choose bald? Even his Mohawk phase would have been preferable. Also, because I’m English I automatically want my hair to match the only famous English man he knows? What?! I should have nicked his scissors and given him a cut that matched Queen Suriyothai. That would have shown him.
He then picked up the razor, but I still hadn’t put two and two together – I assumed the razor would merely be used to straighten up the ends at the back of my head. If only. His first action was to rapidly move his tool straight down the middle of my head; there was no way to mend that kind of damage. You know when a cartoon character gets run over and has the clear prints of a tire track along the centre of its cranium – well, yeah, I brought that image to real life.
I obviously had to let him finish, no hair would be better than, well, the mess I’ve already described. So, I sat there, teary eyed, looking as if I was being prepared for the army.
When the entirety of my hair was finally removed, it was time to face the world. One thing I knew for certain is that we would be taking a different route home, there was no way I could walk past Heaven’s Salon looking like this.
Ruby’s reaction didn’t do much to ease my shattered confidence, either – she burst into fits of laughter the second she saw me; a combination of shock, my facial expression, and knowing that she shouldn’t laugh until we left the shop, apparently.
To sum up, I’m now wearing a hat twenty-four hours a day, which includes sleeping hours and shower time. This may well prove to be a lengthy resolution – time will tell.
Perhaps now would be a good time to take the story elsewhere – back to a better time when I had hair.
The sun was shining, the butterflies were out, and the flowers were fresh – life when we first arrived in Thailand was great. The light breeze ever so slightly had my beautiful golden locks swaying in the sun – I looked like a rock star, or in this country, a plant.
Our first experience of Thailand came in the form of a dancing plant. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, while Hans Lippershey gave us the telescope – undeniably two of the best creations of all time. However, who knew that both of those could so easily be trumped many years down the line, when some bloke in Thailand would go on to gift the world with the dancing plant!
They were very clever when naming it too. They gave this groove-busting plant a title that really sticks in your head, they called their creation the Codariocalyx motorius ohashi leguminosae. I bet you won’t be forgetting that one in a hurry.
Hey, remember when we played scrabble and you claimed that I made up a word, therefore, cancelled my triple-word score. Well, cast your mind back. Yes, that’s right. I put down the name of this plant, so I’m now claiming back my victory.
Unfortunately, bad timing prevented us from seeing a plant do the moonwalk. The C.M.O.L. (as its friends call it) is at its most active between November and February – which makes it seems like a bit of a diva if you ask me. We did still get to see it sway a little bit, but it could be argued that wind is a useful dance partner.
While I’ve mocked the whole idea of this plant, I must confess that we became pretty desperate for some action. We were clicking our fingers, playing ringtones, and at one point, even rapping to a plant. A plant! What had we become? The plant, as I said, was not having any of it. I knew we should have watched and rehearsed some Little Shop of Horrors before this visit. God damn!