Thursday, November 30, 2000

Oh she's glamorous. She's standing behind the counter of the Crypt Charity Shop talking cancer with two old ladies in glasses and padded anoraks. She has a swathe of blonde hair swept up in an elaborate system of clips and rolls, and pink lips the colour of the tips of daisy petals. I pretend to be looking at the golden necklaces which only cost 25p each, twirling the stand so the necklaces splay out a little, kneeling down to try on a gold and green plastic bangle, sticking my arm out in front of the mirror. I've heard this conversation a thousand times in charity shops.

'She had the operation... ooh I know... she don't look bad... yes but I heard.... no cards, no cards at all, and her son didn't visit even once.'

I straighten up and pick up an ornament obviously made by a small child. It's in the shape of a dinasour, and it's made from tiny shells. The shells that make up the ridge along its back have been painted with fluorescent pink and orange paint. As the glamorous lady talks, her ponytail bounces. Actually it's not really a ponytail, more a Brigitte Bardot bouffant, as though the hair has been collected and held in a bunch above the head, then the elastic band has been slipped on loosely, very loosely, and the whole affair's been allowed to fall just so, then fixed in place with Elnette. It looks soft but is perhaps slightly granular, like cotton candy.

The way the hair of others feels against their heads is not something I've had the chance to explore very much. I know how mine feels. I like to slide my fingers underneath my hair, parallel with my scalp, so there's a weft of hair between each of the fingers. I tuck my thumb out of the way and run my fingers in circles over the soft bits of hair when I'm tired. I marvel that anything could be so soft. Sometimes I slide Jake's fingers against the nape of my neck in the same way, to make him feel what I feel, but he doesn't do it right. His touch isn't delicate enough to appreciate it, I suspect. 'Soft, isn't it?' I say, but he just agrees, in that 'yes, dear,' voice used to appease inquisitive womenfolk, and moves his hand away.

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