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Cotswold Mother: Getting the chop

PUBLISHED: 17:48 05 June 2014 | UPDATED: 17:53 05 June 2014

Thoughts of infidelity became an obsession. I donned dark glasses and popped into salons to pick up price lists, taking furtive looks around me as I emerged, terrified I’d be spotted / Photo: Artem Furman

Thoughts of infidelity became an obsession. I donned dark glasses and popped into salons to pick up price lists, taking furtive looks around me as I emerged, terrified I'd be spotted / Photo: Artem Furman

Archant

There's no way round it: lately our relationship has got a little stale. Where's the excitement? Where's the thrill? It's all just a little bit predictable

Photo: mathomPhoto: mathom

I have been with my hairdresser for a long time. I met her at a salon when I moved to Chipping Norton, almost 10 years ago, and she has been cutting my hair ever since. When she left to work for herself as a mobile stylist, I left too, swapping the luxury of the salon for my kitchen chair (and saving myself a pretty penny into the bargain).

We get on well, she and I. I still like her, and I think she likes me. We talk lots and we’ve never had an argument. But there’s no way round it: lately our relationship has got a little stale. Where’s the excitement? Where’s the thrill? It’s all just a little bit predictable. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more…

I found myself looking at other women’s hair, wondering where they’d had it cut. Was their stylist more adventurous than mine? Did they get a head massage when they had their hair washed? Were they offered Earl Grey and a biscuit? However much I tried only to be loyal, I couldn’t help my thoughts drifting towards something new. Something different. Something exciting.

Louise came round to give me a trim, and I could hardly look her in the eye. Should I tell her I’d been looking elsewhere? Confess to my wandering eye? I wondered if honesty really was the best policy: would it be the making of us? The catalyst we needed, to give our relationship another go? But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. How could I tell her she wasn’t enough for me, after so many years together?

So I told her about my holiday, and she asked about the kids, and all the time I was imagining lying back in a leather recliner, with someone else’s fingers running through my hair. “Are you okay?” Louise said. “You seem a little distracted.”

“I’m fine,’”I muttered, blushing so extensively my highlights turned red. She knew: I was sure of it.

Thoughts of infidelity became an obsession. I donned dark glasses and popped into salons to pick up price lists, taking furtive looks around me as I emerged, terrified I’d be spotted. I contemplated heading out of town, where no one knew me: I’d heard of a place where they gave free samples of shampoo in beautiful linen bags, and became convinced such products would revolutionise my hair. But I didn’t do it. I never crossed the line.

Then the new salon opened in town. Sleek. Elegant. Expensive. I heard word the owner came from London; that they served cocktails; that their chairs were imported from Japan, and made from the softest leather. I walked past once; twice. I flirted with them on Twitter. Then I booked an appointment. It was as easy as that, but even as I took the appointment card and stroked its Cotswold green lettering, I wondered if I could go through with it. I imagined what Louise would say, and pushed the thought aside. I wanted adventure. Excitement. Shiny hair.

I woke this morning with adrenalin coursing through my veins. I wore a new dress and red lipstick; could hardly wait to drop the kids at school and get to the salon. It was everything I had imagined. A glass of champagne was thrust towards me, as hands explored my hair and the hairdresser threw out phrases such as ‘beautiful colouring,’ ‘lovely length,’ and ‘very badly damaged – have you been dyeing this yourself?’ And then it was upstairs to the basins, where I lay back and shivered with pleasure: not at the touch of my colourist, but at the contrast to my own toothpaste-encrusted, odd-sock-strewn bathroom. Such bliss! Such happiness! Such… guilt.

The remorse began at my follicles and ended at the tips of my fingers, which twisted themselves in my lap in shame. My champagne forgotten, I chewed my lip and stared at the gargantuan gilt mirror before me. At the face of a cheat. How could I do this to Louise? Sure, I’d have great hair, but Louise gave me great hair! And what were a few shampoo samples, if it meant the end of a 10-year relationship?

I reached for my phone. I couldn’t live with the guilt – I had to tell her. I tapped out a text message, pouring out my confession, and begging her to forgive me. “It’s not you, it’s me,” I said. “I was thinking of you all the time...” Text message sent, I waited anxiously for the fall-out. It came quickly. “Is that the new guy from London? I’ve heard great things – let me know what it’s like!” Was that it? Was I so easily forgotten? I choked back a sob. “More champagne?” my new hairdresser asked.

“Bring the bottle,” I said.

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This article by Clare Mackintosh is from the June 2014 issue of Cotswold Life

For more from Clare, follow her on twitter: @claremackint0sh

Or visit: www.claremackintosh.com

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