My shaved head: to baldly go…Posted: September 4, 2012
Think of shaved heads and what comes to mind? Perhaps those well ‘ard Mitchell brothers from Eastenders. Maybe some skinhead fascists or football hooligans. Or, far removed from those stubble-scalped scallywags, you might think of a Buddhist monk, or perhaps a streamlined swimmer.
My shaved head is nothing to do with any of the above, nor is it a fashion statement. My bald bonce represents resignation – resignation to the fact that my hairline is receding ever further from my forehead; that it’s thinning on top; that I have a shiny, round bald patch.
Round the back and sides, my hair is still quite thick – and increasingly grey. It’s no good having thick hair just around the sides, really, is it? Left alone, it would grow into some kind of bouffant interpretation of a middle-aged mad professor, and I would be forced to wear a lab coat at all times.
Shaving my head is now, for me, the only alternative to this professor chic. I see other men in similar states of follicular depreciation trying to hide their plight. They might sport a wispy island of hair in the middle of their otherwise naked scalp. Worse still, an older gent in my situation might scrape a couple of longer strands of hair from the side of his head across the hair-free expanse on top, like some kind of flappy rope bridge across a bald canyon, prone to disastrous collapse at the merest suggestion of a gust of wind.
Prince William should take a leaf out of my book. Alan Shearer, the former England footballer turned pundit, has already done so. Well, he didn’t consult me directly on the matter, but I was clearly his inspiration. Wayne Rooney chose to go the other way, and good luck to him. There’s no better way to draw attention to your premature baldness than to get a high-profile hair transplant.
There are a lot of benefits to my hair(less) do. It’s the ultimate low-maintenance haircut, and because it’s almost idiot-proof to do it myself it’s far cheaper than anything requiring the services of a professional. I don’t need to spend ages choosing shampoo or carefully conditioning my luxuriant locks, and nor do I have to worry about the unwelcome attention of headlice.
The lack of hairstyling options as a bald chap means more time spent on choosing hats. Hats are a necessity these days, either to block out the sun (sunburn + bald head = nasty, painful mess) or keep out the cold. Even the smallest covering of hair seems to make all the difference on a chilly day. A cold blast of icy wind is enough to freeze your brains. Well, it feels like it anyway. The most extreme hat I own is what I call my Yak Hat, so called because it was made in Nepal and because it is very woolly. It has ear flaps (perhaps not stylish but certainly cosy and useful for shutting out the noise of bickering children) and, to lend it extra yakiness, it smelt of damp sheep when I got caught in a shower the day I bought it.
I sometimes wonder why I went bald at a youngish age – an eagle-eyed friend and hair obsessive spotted that my hairline was receding while I was still in the sixth form – and ponder over whether it might be some sort of hair karma; a kind of punishment for the terrible hairstyles I have had in the past.
I went through my early school years with a nondescript, standard-issue schoolboy haircut, but things started to go wrong when I become more interested in my own appearance, and decided to copy other boys in my year and get my hair spiked – a fashionable look in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, the hairdresser who did the spiking one ill-fated day in 1988 decided it would look good if I also had a fringe. She was mistaken. Everywhere I went the next day, I was greeted with uproarious, mocking laughter and howls of derision. The humiliation has stayed with me ever since. Laughter at the bus stop. Laughter on the bus. Laughter in the classroom. Laughter in assembly.
I moved on to a more regular ‘flat top’, but even that wasn’t without its problems. By this time I had moved to another hairdresser’s, but on one occasion there was a stand-in guest hairdresser, with maverick ideas of how to sculpt a flat top from my hair.
“Do you want it totally square or a bit square?” he asked.
“Er, a bit square?” I answered, not really having given much thought to the would-be squareness of my head.
He proceeded to reveal a rectangular piece of plastic and shaved round it, somehow creating a perfect trapezium shape out of my extremely short hair. I was stuck with this absurd geometrical tribute for a fortnight.
When I was 19, I experimented with my hair again, having moved through a fairly stable side-parting period. Just about every footballer in the top flight, and, I think, the entire England under-21 squad, had a hairstyle that was very short and combed forward. It sadly didn’t really suit me, as my girlfriend at the time pointed out. When meeting my great auntie Kathleen, she took the opportunity to ask what my dear relative thought of this new hairstyle of mine.
“With a face like that,” said Auntie Kath, “it doesn’t matter what he does with his hair.” I think she meant this as a compliment, and I really appreciated the support for my feeble fashion failure.
I eventually gave up on my hair eight years ago and baldly went where I’d only been once before (a Comic Relief head-shaving event in 1998). Of course I would rather have a full head of hair, but – to the despair of my mother – I have conceded defeat and would rather have no hair than some tufty remnants.
Tragically (ahem) I can’t treat you to any photos of my hair nightmares of years gone by, so here is a more recent photo by my friend Jo Pickles, celebrating the baldness.