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Post-communist hair February 9, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Darlings, first things first. B. turns 30 today so you must go and wish her good tidings. Imagine ever being 29! I don’t even think I could read and write till I was in my 30s, and I certainly couldn’t blog. Many Happy Returns, B., and may the next 30 be as good as the first.

Just occasionally, Berlin reminds me of Russia. And, let’s face it, they ought to have the odd post-communist thing or two in common, after all. Sometimes Berlin or other bits of the former East Germany manage to even look like Russia. Decrepit bits of Potsdam look quite like decrepit bits of St. Petersburg. Grotty stucco and faded splendour. I haven’t been to Russia for an age now so I don’t know if they’ve started trying to sex up the fairly dreary modern blocks of flats. That does happen here. Just south of my street is a cluster of perfectly perpendicular blocks round an abandoned square with gnarled wire-fencing and overgrown grass. But the houses have had a lick of paint and a decent front door put on and probably a posh entry-phone thing installed and that lightens the mood considerably as you traipse past pissed at 4 in the morning hoping you won’t bump into any of your neighbours as you try to saunter noiselessly up the stairs and make yourself look sober even though you reek of booze and have fresh scratches on your face having just fallen into an annoyingly-positioned prickly bush.

But today it’s snowing. It’s boiling still – about +25, I’d guess – but snowing. My mother claims it only snows when it’s boiling. Or, rather, that if it’s very cold, it won’t snow. “It’s too cold for snow,” I’d hear her say wisely on a rare cold day in London. But that must be bollocks, surely, as I remember it snowing away happily in St. Petersburg when it was -28 and I don’t imagine Scott of the Antarctic had a moment of snowlessness as he and his chums sat awaiting their fate. Still, I’ll pardon her error as it’s never really cold in London. I don’t think it’s EVER been below -10. Though lest anyone think Londoners are lucky with their climate, it’s horrible in other ways. Damp and windy and often downright shit. The Russian, from a town where -40 is nothing unusual, found London in April unbearably freezing.

But today my mother is right. It’s boiling and snowing. And though the temperature is very unRussian, Berlin today reminded me of St. Petersburg. I trotted off on an errand – in t-shirt, shorts, hat, gloves and scarf – and as I turned the corner onto a mainish street and caught sight of random, living people for what seemed the first time in ages, I was instantly transported, mentally, straight to Nevskij Prospekt. People were wrapped up warm. Women were in fur coats. Men were in padded jackets and wore sensible, ear-warming caps. Determined expressions aided folk concentrating on making their way through the elements. “Cor,” I said out loud, much to the surprise of an orange German coming out of a suntan parlour, “this is just like St. Petersburg.”

But why should that be the case? I mean, as tropical as London is, it does occasionally have snow too, and no doubt folk brave the elements there in the same determined way. Luckily, I needed to cross the road just as this train of thought was taking off and crossing the road takes a good three hours in Germany as you wait – not a car in sight – for the man to go green and then almost get knocked over anyway as it is always one set of cars’ turn to go regardless and they only don’t have to kill you at their discretion. But it gave me ponder-time.

“It’s the hair!” I shouted, to the further bemusement of the orange German who was shadowing me for novelty value. (You don’t get that many foreigners in these here parts.)

Now the post-communist nations may have gone through rapid, upheavally change, but their hairstyles haven’t. Post-communist ladies over 50 still have rock-hard, colourful, bird’s-nest hair. Whereas every woman in the UK, unless she has had at least two novels published or a play put on at The Royal Court, wakes up on her 50th birthday – mark my words, B., and check in 20 years’ time – with hair EXACTLY like the queen’s. My mother’s got it. All my aunts have it. Mrs. Thatcher had it. All the women who haven’t written novels or had plays put on at The Royal Court in old people’s homes have it. It’s just the rules. Which actually works vaguely in post-communist countries’ favour, variety-wise. There you never know which type of bird’s nest you might be met with. It might be a jet-black, spiky thing that could take your eye out or a generous, plumy, bright-red affair. The colour need, naturally, bear no resemblance to anything usually found in the animal kingdom, unless on the more exotic and obscure birds of the Amazon.

Mind you, in spite of the post-communist hair and the determined snow-braving, I was once again struck by the Berlin totty. An agonisingly lovely boy-next-door type crossed my path. And that got me wondering if there was a girl-next-door phenomenon too. Or do your neighbours have to live in a stately home for that to work?

But no time to ponder that too.


1. Welsherella - February 9, 2007

I just had to be the first to comment on this, what I consider to be your best ever post! I am not going to be able to sleep for laughing… Sorry – praise is so unoriginal I know, but sometimes you deserve a little flattery I think…

2. pleite - February 9, 2007

Welshy, thank you. As you are only 26 – TWENTY-SIX!- of course I am deeply impressed that you can read and write and blog and even pay me compliments. Thank you. That is awfully kind. I’m sure I was in a pram until I was 30… Actually, unfortunately, I CAN remember my 30th birthday. I was in St. Petersburg and free vodka was given out and I was in a very bad way indeed. Oh dear. All I have learnt in my 30s is not to drink vodka.

3. MountPenguin - February 10, 2007

BiB, our generation was the last one which experienced their 20s in the pre-blog era of personal discretion. I predict that in a few years we shall have the first blogging foeti, followed no doubt by SMSing spermatozoa.

4. bowleserised - February 10, 2007

Thank you for the birthday greetings!

Eastern European old-lady hair is certainly a phenomenon in itself. Mind you, the other day I saw a older woman in Kollwitz Platz with an inky blue-purple beehive. That was pretty cool.

5. pleite - February 10, 2007

Penguin, I was even quite a late uptaker of e-mail. Never looked back since I finally caught on though. My 20s seemed mostly to be taken up with being a student and being abroad for one reason or another. Which wasn’t bad. But the 30s are better, I’m sure. Personally, I’m already waiting for the 70s – oh gosh, or will it be 90s by then? – when I don’t have to work anymore and can just lie in bed and dribble. Which is what I do quite a lot of already, but without the non-working, unfortunately.

B., I hope your birthday was heaven and that your hair is everything you want it to be. The Russian has a brilliant photo of one of his teachers from university. I’m not sure it qualifies strictly as post-communist hair, as it probably wasn’t rock hard, but it’s quite a sight. Firstly, the lady in question happens to have a slightly plain face. Then she is wearing a dress which is just a long jumper. Then she has very red lipstick on her tiny mouth. But the hair! I think it’s a home-made perm gone very wrong, so a sort of very shaggy mullet, and she’s dyed it bright yellow by standing under an upturned bottle of bleach. It’s magnificent.

6. Lukeski - February 10, 2007

I don’t think that the age is necessarily th issue – Kazan in the mid-90’s, for example had a high proportion of younger women (in their 20’s and upwards) with precisely the hair you describe – and, of course, the blue eye shadow (as worn by my own dear sister in provinicial Britain in the late 70’s). The young and rich Russians and other former Warsaw Pacters in London are, of course, effortlessly stylish, but there are, from time to time hints toward this hairstyle from women of 40-plus. It is about being on the periphery of the fashion world in terms of both exposure to styles and to the products required (at an acceptable price) to create these styles…

7. BiB - February 10, 2007

Liukchik, darling, another person approaching the big 3-0. We men are rather boring on the hair front, though, are we not? Do you still go for majorly short? Or are you going to have a post-30 revolution and go for a comb-over or maybe even a mullet? Or are you waiting till you’re 50?

When the Russian and I were once in London, we saw two Russian total beauties walking along weighed down in fashionable-looking, tailored-seeming, posh shopping bags. The Russian was vaguely entertained by the novelty of Russians abroad then – I presume no-one even notices Russian or Polish spoken on the streets any more. I’ve already seen Poles used in a Catherine Tate joke – but then the beauties made us actually giggle just as we drew up behind them when one said to the other, in cool Russian, “Я в опере ваааааааабще не разбираюсь,” (“I ain’t got a clue about opera.”) Which made me think some posh man who fancied her had just invited her to one that evening. (I’ve probably also blogged before about some friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend-type story about another woman who’d been invited to an opera by some posh geezer and they were on the way there in a car and he had some other ravishing, but dim, guest with him too, and the ravishing-but-dim one asked, in a New Zealand accent (which seemed to add to the story, somehow), “So, opera, is that the one where they sing all the time?”

8. Lukeski - February 10, 2007

Nope – still short (although not Romanian orphan style any longer). When it gets to any more than an inch, it becomes inordinately curly, so I have to keep it short. Or never leave the house again.

9. BiB - February 10, 2007

Mmm. Never leave the house again. Sounds lovely. Although, actually, I am just about to to go and have a drinkette with the lady whose birthday it was yesterday. I feel as ropey as fuck, but hopefully a Bierchen will sort me out.

10. Lukeski - February 11, 2007

11. BiB - February 11, 2007

But is she a post-communist woman with Western post-50 hair? I mean, she looks almost identical to my mother, though my mother, as you well know, doesn’t do brown lipstick. Mind you, that magazine seems to be an attempt to turn Russia into 1950s Arkansas, so perhaps it’s not very representative. (Ha! I see, from its blurb, its inspiration is Good Housekeeping.)

12. aimee m. - February 12, 2007

i want a package of dye that makes white old-lady hair go lavender. how *do* they do that? the help-me-i’m-on-fire henna is always a nice touch, too. i fear Berlin needs far more thigh-high black leather stiletto boots at noon to go completely modern-day Petrograd, however. i fear the first thing that came out of my mouth the last time i was on Nevsky was, “ick! it’s just like New Jersey!”

13. aimee m. - February 12, 2007

apparently i’m a bit fearful this evening. somebody get me an editor.

14. BiB - February 12, 2007

Oh no, is it evening already? I CAN NOT WORK. Well, not unless the deadline is five minutes away. Generous deadlines are the worst thing ever.

So it’s not post-communist hair at all, is it? American woman post-50 go in for rock-hard, big hair too, don’t they? Or is it perhaps a mixture of post-communists and queens?

Anyway, I mustn’t write a million questions in a row. I once heard a review of Saddam Hussein’s (first? only?) novel and apparently it began with about a billion (rhetorical, but still) questions, so I’m trying to nip any dictatorial tendencies in the bud. I’d be hopeless at running a country, though. Even a tiny one. Maybe I could manage the Vatican, as I’d just instruct people to pray and dress up all the time. But even Monaco would be unmanageable. Although maybe I’d just have to decree, “Be rich and pay no tax.” I could do that. Is San Marino the easiest small country to run? Maybe I’ll try to take over San Marino, then. Translation will be outlawed.

15. BiB - February 13, 2007

Arabella, darling, I haven’t read anything for the last 20 years apart from blogs and the first 10 pages of Shadow of the Wind, and instruction manuals for machines I don’t understand in languages I barely comprehend to be translated into the one language I do still just about understand. So I haven’t read To The Hermitage, more’s the pity.

But I have been to The Hermitage/Winter Palace, and can, of course, highly recommend it, although I did once have to haughtily storm out when the reception witches – the hardest and biggest and most iridescent hair you’ve ever seen – wanted to charge me the foreigner price, which was more than 40 times the price Russians paid. Yes, more than 40 times more. I explained I was a temporary local, and, look, here’s a letter from my employer asking you to be kind, but the hard-haired ones weren’t to be swayed. So I told them to stick their art up their arse, which didn’t really leave me any better off, did it? And it reminds me I must never entertain a single romantic thought about Russia ever. (Sometimes I find them sneaking up on me.) But I can certainly recommend St. Petersburg and Moscow (Moscow even more, actually) for a hol. (And Novgorod, in between them. So fucking stunningly wonderfully mythic.) (And freezing.) And Moscow’s just as artistically well-endowed as St. Petersburg, actually, and is way more beautiful, in my opinion, but Russians will always say St. Petersburg is, because it’s the more European city, which they think makes it better. But Moscow does it for me.

St. Petersburg is wonderful around midsummer because of the white nights, where it’s only darkish for an hour or so at about 1 in the morning. That’s pretty wonderful. But winter is sex too. Well, months on end of it are pretty grim, but walking along the frozen-solid Neva, as long as you’re wrapped up warm, is wonderful and I once happened to be on Red Square – sorry, quick city-hop there – with three English pals during a snowstorm and it was just so ludicrously beautiful and there was no-one around but us and a few policemen and Lenin and St. Basil’s. Fucking heaven. And the palaces/museums just outside St. Petersburg are marvellous too, in either season, because of great grounds/parks/gardens.

Buy your ticket and go as soon as you can. I hope you’re feeling better. I’m mid-translation-induced-wanting-to-die and will be at this computer SOLIDLY for the next month.

16. Arabella - February 13, 2007

Sorry about the prickly bush incident but if it inspired this post, not sorry at all really. What a great read!
For years I’ve wanted to visit St. Petersberg – in winter because I imagine the Winter Palace will be at its most beautiful in snow. Have you read ‘To The Hermitage’ by Malcolm Bradbury? It’s about Voltaire selling his library to Catherine the Great and travelling across Europe to be at court (with some amusing contemporary scenes sewn in about the lit. crit. circus).
I experienced the pedestrian traffic lights of Cologne and ended up allowing myself an extra half hour journey time to get anywhere across town. Used to drive me nuts. The city wasn’t post-communist of course but whatever it was, it didn’t agree with me. I had planned to live there for months and ended up fleeing to France, on the motorway with only a packet of Petit Prince biscuits for the day-long journey.
I intend to make the most of the time allotted me until I have to wear Queen hair

17. pleite - February 13, 2007

…and, Arabella, forgot to comment on Cologne. I try not to leave the house, never mind the city, so have never been to Cologne, and while it’s sort of got a decent reputation for Germany – not as loathsome and uninteresting as Frankfurt, not as shit as all those Ruhr cities – all those Dortmunds and Düsseldorfs and Mönchengladbachs – or as something else as Munich and Hamburg, people have also intimated that really it’s just one nice church and then the rest is the bog-standard, post-war, modern, German, tiny city. (Many) Berliners and us adopted Berliners will tell you there’s nowhere else to live in this country but Berlin, but that’s obviously bollocks, in a way, as almost everyone else does live somewhere else, but I must say I couldn’t imagine living in, say, Stuttgart (one of the few places I have been. Nice landscape close by. City utterly numbing after 12 seconds), even if, living where I do, and concentrating almost every activity of my life into a 2km radius, I might as well be living in Yeovil. Probably hard to get a drink at 4am in Yeovil, though. Which is all a majorly long-winded, as ever, way of saying that you were probably right to dash off to France.

18. MountPenguin - February 13, 2007

Ah, Cologne. Been there (or passed through there) a few times (back in the dim, distant pre Ryan’O’Jet era student discounts made cross-continental travel by train very attractive, and Cologne was a good place to break the journey). How can I put it: nice little place, beats the pants off say Düsseldorf, has a cute “U-Bahn” (trams running in tunnels) and has its main shopping district neatly compacted into its very own “High Street” (Hohe Straße). I hear they go in for this Karneval stuff though, which means I could never even contemplate living there.

19. pleite - February 13, 2007

I’m missing all the February goings-on due to work and being an anti-social misery. The Berlinale will pass me by totally. And is it already Shrovetide? Is it Karneval-time, therefore? It’s usally around now, isn’t it?

Eek, trams in tunnels. BRUSSELS. Although they’re not pretending to be anything other than trams. They’re just underground (sometimes). Brussels is, I think, the most horrible nice place I know. I mean, it’s not nice at all, but might once have been, and has pretty bits, and the Belgians eat well, but Brussels. Fuck no.

20. MountPenguin - February 13, 2007

Well, as a fairly-well established Berliner, I can safely say I only know that this quaint ethnic Karneval / Fasching business appears to be occurring around now because flicking past the provincial channels on the telly reveals wall-to-wall coverage of pratts in hats deluding themselves that they are, in some way, funny. Until 1998 or so when the government moved to Berlin it was completely unknown, but the influx of Rheinländer brought with it some attempt to convince Berliners to go round in pratty hats throwing sweets and cutting off neckties or whatever it is they do there out west (there’s a big-ish procession down Unter den Linden some time in February, and they even sell Fasching costumes in the shops now), but the Berliners, bless them, steadfastly refuse to get into the swing of things.

Must look up Shrovetide; is it when shroves from the Sargasso Sea get washed up on the shore?

Brussels… I spent a pleasant morning pottering about there while changing trains once, and while quite nice it’s firmly on my list of places I have “done” and don’t need to return to.

21. pleite - February 13, 2007

Quite right. Never return to Brussels, unless you’re made an EU Commissioner, and even then look for a way to spend as much of the time on business in Turkmenistan or Burkina Faso as possible.

I was going to do a deal with you. I’d look up Shrovetide in German for you and would look up Fasching as my new word of the day from you and whaddaya know! They’re the same thing. And I’ve probably looked up Fasching at least 80 times at this time every year. But buggered if I can remember it. Although I really used to make pancakes when a slip of a thing about now – Pancake Day and all that – and add sugar and lemon, which is something I’ve even managed to convince the Russian is tasty a hundred years later and Russians wouldn’t normally pollute their blini with lemon…

I can also never remember if the Sargasso Sea is real, fictional or on the moon. You could put me out of my misery, but I’ll probably have googled it by then…

22. MountPenguin - February 13, 2007

Ah, that would make sense. I never did get the hang of all this religious stuff between Christmas and Easter – something about Shrove Pancakes being lent out or something – but it’s nice to be able to match up the translations for once.

The Sargasso Sea is real, I believe, but has a lot of mythology attached to it. I think it’s also where European river eels go to breed, possibly nourishing themselves on the shroves.

23. pleite - February 13, 2007

Shroves? Is this Anglo-Deutsch of some sort? What is a shrove? Or am I dimly missing a gag? That could easily be it.

I dunno when we’re meant to start shriving this year either. But I think it must be to do with living it up before Lent. (I have a couple of helpful Christian readers who’ve explained this to me before, I’m sure. Although it might have been other feasts, actually.) And it’s nowhere near 40 days till Easter yet, so we’ve got to hold off the pancakes for another age yet. (Oh pants. I wonder if it’s going to be Lent when I’m in Poland. Which will mean the country’s collectively given up fun.)

24. MountPenguin - February 13, 2007

I have no idea what shroves are either, but was surmising if there was a tide of them, that they come from the sea and may (or may not) make a nice pancake filling.

(One has to let one’s imagination run wild occasionally).

Hmm, now I’m hungry.

25. pleite - February 13, 2007

Get yourself over to B.’s place. There’s talk of Japanese pancake recipes there and all sorts. I’ve eaten a huge breakfast and now want to return to bed, which I might do, having just heard siestas praised on the wireless. Although 11am is perhaps a tad early.

26. leon - February 13, 2007

I had a huge breakfast (something I rarely do) for lunch (again, something I rarely do; have breakfast for lunch, I mean) while passively smoking the foul menthol cigarettes of the two French students on the next table. I feel….soiled.

27. pleite - February 13, 2007

For the second time today, I am compelled to mention my trip to Mexico in the late summer o’ ’96. Breakfast was the main meal of the day. Enormous. Steaky bits of meat with mole (not moles) and all sorts. And the meals would get progressively smaller throughout the day. It seemed the way to do things.

I’m almost pro a smoking ban now so that I could be banned from blighting everyone’s lives. When’s England going to have one? And menthol cigarettes are too ludicrous. Did you fancy the French students, at least?

28. Christina - February 13, 2007

I used to have to fight with my hairdresser in Potsdam. Every visit she wanted to give me magenta old lady hair and every visit I had to remind her that I like my color the way it is, thank you very much, and that if she did anything more than trim the ends, she would be very, very, very sorry. So clearly they start pestering you in your 30’s. I suppose it takes them 20 years to wear you down then. If that’s the case, thank God I got out of the East in time!

29. Christina - February 13, 2007

Oh, and as far as German cities go, I like Leipzig (better than Berlin – EGADS!). You should go sometime. It’s like Berlin with good shopping and decent food.

30. pleite - February 13, 2007

Christina, yes, magenta is one of the key or primary bird’s-nest colours. Actually, our first wicked Berlin neighbour, who complained when we moved and asked us to put carpet down, when we’d just pulled the dog-vomit-pattern one that was there up, had magenta hair, though not yet in bird’s-nest (quite) (or queen-) style and she must have only been in her 20s at the time. She had a nice, exasperated-looking boyfriend.

Yes, I’ve heard many a nice thing about Leipzig. I’ve only been through it on the train, when the Russian and I went by that cheapo weekend ticket all the way to Stuttgart, so I think we were technically in every German town that day. Including Zwickau or Zittau (wherever it is they made Trabis). It had a plastic ice-cream parlour like our local shopping-centre but the old alcoholics were replaced by 20-something orange Germans, the men with huge earrings and dyed-yellow short hair and the girls with huge earrings and dyed-yellow longer hair.

31. A Blogger - February 13, 2007

Me 20s were taken up entirely by me being a student or overseas (sometimes at the same time – see! Men can multitask!

Will my life follow yours, Broke? When did you discover you batted for the other side? Or maybe it’s too late for me?

And since I entered my fourth decade a touch under two months ago, I have to say that I’ve been absolutely loving my 30s! I’ve had that nose job, after all (on the cheap) and have found a bachelor pad in which to reside. All good!

32. pleite - February 14, 2007

AB, going over to the other side would be traumatic at your age (not that 30 is old, of course), and all the more so if you’re not actually a whoopsy. Are you thinking of getting experimental in your 30s? Well, I must say I knew about myself from a very young age, as soon as you know you’re a sexual being. But it seems to be horses for courses with that. I’ve met people who understood later and others who understood MUCH later.

But yes, the 30s are good. Life gets better the older you get, as I’ve said a bazillion times. (Well, there are plenty of variables, of course, but I’d never want my youth back.) And now you’ve got your pad and your new hooter, the world’s your oyster.

33. A Blogger - February 14, 2007

Yes, though I rule nothing out, I would be a little surprised if my life followed yours exactly. I do like boobs, after all. Lovely things, those. But on saying that, I also like Ruskies. They’re a funny bunch. Which is not to say Ruskies don’t have boobs, because about half of them do. But their dress sense is, well, shit.

Perhaps it will end up similar? A booby Russian in a country foreign to both of us. With my new, straight nose, anything is possible. Except for breathing without pain, but that’s temporary I hope.

34. narrowback - February 14, 2007

Once again late to the discussion. But let me throw my two cents in… my I always thought big hair in unnatural colors was an american thing…widely popular in the 1950’s but by the 70’s largely confined to rural areas, rust belt cities (including a subset of older eastern eastern european women residing in said cities) and other similar “backwaters”. As I doubt that in 1958 american women were following eastern bloc hairstyling trends I would believe that the original look was born here here.

I mean look at the hair on Peggy Bundy in the american sitcom “Married with Children” which I only cite as an example ’cause I understand that it was quite popular in Germany. To the extent that in the early 90’s german tourists were constantly haranguing Chicago taxi drivers to take them to the “der Bundy fountain” – formally known as the Buckingham Fountain

forgive this rare admission of yank chauvinsim but when I had witnessed such hairstyles in Belfast, Berlin and elsewhere i assumed it was just some outdated aping of american fashion

I’m thinking about a day trip to Leipzig this trip around but it looks like the dance card is getting fairly filled with Berlin activities.

35. pleite - February 14, 2007

Funny you should raise the subject of Russians, because I’m just deliciously in the mood for a moan about the Russian, which hopefully won’t get found down here in the comments to the not freshest post. We are meant to go to Poland at the end of next week and he’s been too busy being fat or gambling or looking at porn or something to do the visa and he came back from the Embassy yesterday with some nonsense about how the photo wasn’t accepted and he’d go again today but I see from the website the visa process takes two weeks. If I have to cancel this trip, I will be most annoyed. God I’m bored of being in a couple. I must plan my move to Mt. Athos sharpish. (I had to rescue your message from the spam, for some reason.) (And one foreign country to both you and Russian ladies but where there are lots of Russian ladies springs to mind.) (Hope breathing gets easier again soon.)

36. pleite - February 14, 2007

Narrowback, hello! Yes, the hair might very well have come in that direction. And I can picture some good bouffant locks on an imaginary American lady, but do they do rock-hard, razor-sharp bird’s nests too? I am actually smiling out loud at remembering one of the hairstyles Debbie Harry did – I think she was hiding a bomb in it – in that film Hairspray. I watched with a schoolfriend who did one of those nice explosive, hysterical laughs, which tickled both me and my father, if I remember rightly.

If you do find a spare sec, I suppose Leipzig is a manageable hop, skip and jump from here.

37. leon - February 14, 2007

[BiB] There was one quite attractive one, and one who was more interestingly dressed but had a face like a smacked arse. In either case, the menthol gaspers weren’t doing anything for their image, in my eyes anyway.

38. BiB - February 14, 2007

…because they smoked menthol or because they smoked überhaupt? Can’t remember if you smoke.

39. leon - February 14, 2007

Both. I’m a non-smoker (my family seems prone to smoking-related illnesses; plus it’s bad for the skin, y’know) but my real objection was just that these menthol things were extremely stinky. They might as well have been puffing on a packet of Tunes.

One of them did have unnaturally-coloured hair, too, but in a kind of stylish way.

40. pleite - February 14, 2007

Leon, I’m sure you know, but coffee is bad for the skin too. And all I do is drink coffee. Even during my sleep. Although I haven’t smoked for a few days, because of busyness, so I might as well try to give up again.

Falling in prickly bushes is bad for your skin too, by the way.

Puffing on Tunes. Fantastic. Excellent. Which reminds me, must go and have a restorative zinc+vitamin C tablet. B. recommended them and they now constitute about 95% of my diet. I think your diet sounds far more interesting.

41. narrowback - February 14, 2007

I don’t know if there are still sightings of rock-hard, razor-sharp bird’s nests since I long ago gave up exploring the more isolated parts of this country… but I can say that they used to be prevelant.hairspray used to occupy massive amounts of shelf space in retail establishments.

my friends and I used to call it “helmet hair”.

42. BiB - February 15, 2007

You see how much we have to be grateful to environmental awareness for? All those sprays became no-nos and women’s hair went from rock-hard, razor-sharp to environmentally-friendly nice and floppy. Marriage and happiness indicators probably went shooting up and everything. (I’ve got a feeling I may have had a minor hairspray-period of my own, aged about 17. Too old to care now, thank god.)

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