Glimmers of Life

Archive for March 2010

Ok so I heard about this movie and I just thought ‘oh dear’. It sounded like something cringe-worthy Will Ferrell might star in. But then I heard hristopher Mintz-Plasse was starring in it (McLovin from Superbad) and that confirmed my convinction not to see this movie.

But then I heard that Jonathan Ross’ wife had helped to write it…. interesting…
Then I heard the director Matthew Vaughn was British and saw how genuinely enthusiastic he was about the movie.
I also heard that the movie was really violent and that it “wouldn’t encourage anyone to become a superhero” and so now I’m intrigued.

The trailer suggests lame superhero spoof that’s sure to make you wish you’d spent the entrance fee on something less boring instead.
But now I’m expecting something a little Kill Bill, something a little Wanted, with a bit of Shoot ’em Up thrown in for good measure.  That’s quite a trio to live up…. let’s see what it has to offer….


They say that black hair is really versatile, I’m not sure who “they” are but i’ve heard that said several times. In fact when I think about it I have had a fair few different styles over the years but I had never tried the weave. I’d managed to get through 30 years without ever having tried one of the staples of black hairdressing…so i thought it was about time i tried.

My thinking behind the decision was that a weave can’t really do any lasting damage – except to your bank balance. And fortunately for me my local black hair shop had just opened a hairdressers and they were offering cheap deals to build up the customer base. So it seemed that the stars had aligned and it was my time to enter the world of the weave.

Now having not been a part of a black community for a good ten years, I was coming to this wide eyed and wet nosed. All I knew was that I wanted a weave…oh and a fringe… but the devil is in the detail….

So I turn up on the day of my appointment with thoughts of flowing Beyonce locks – in my head I was on a dance floor near the wind machine busting a funky move while my new hair danced in the breeze. The hairdresser had said i would need 2 packs of hair but that’s all the advice I got, so it was quite a shock when I was met with a barrage of questions from the Asian lady behind the counter when all I wanted was 2 packs of hair.

She tried asking me what brand I wanted… I gazed past her at the array of hair hanging from the wall and could only come back with a very British, “I’m awfully sorry but i’ve never done this before… erm… I’m not sure.” The lady shop owner wasn’t fazed she just said, “Ok what length do you want?”. I wanted to offer a  “Well I don’t know?!!” in a stroppy teenage style, but i ended up pointing to a vague point between my shoulder and my elbow saying sheepishly “About there?”

We went through straight or curly
We went through length (14 or 18 inches)
We went through human or synthetic
We went through colour
We went through texture

Then we got to price (I gone for some straight dark brown, 18 inch human hair)….. and then went back through the previous questions until I became too embarrassed to ask any more questions – and I was also starting to feel bad about the amount of times I’d sent her up the ladder to show me hair i couldn’t decide if i wanted.

Eventually I made it out of the shop with the required 2 packs of hair. I went upstairs to the hairdresser and waited my turn. As i waited all I could think about what the hair I was clutching, is it the right colour? I should have gone more blonde…. Would she let me exchange it?

The woman already in the hot seat was standing up after her weave was complete. She’d gone for curls with a reddish hue – she looked fantastic. That’s what I should have gone for, but it was too late now, it was my turn in the hot seat.

First they tackled my afro-like mop – pulling and plaiting it into submission around my head. They had a bit of trouble because my hair was too long and wouldn’t sit right, but soon I was onto round two the sewing in of my new hair.

Within two hours it was done. My new hair was there. My eyes went wow, but my heart sank a little. It was so straight, so square…  I looked so much younger.  By the time I got home all the strange looks I’d received in the shop, had wore me down. I stared at it in the mirror and had to admit that it looked terrible. The hair was too straight – it looked like i was wearing a wig, the colour was all wrong – it jarred against by pale winter tone and looked really fake.  My husband wasn’t much help as I think he hated it more than I did, and was advising me to take it out to avoid acute embarrassment at work in the morning.

But i’d spent the money now and if I took it out what would I do with what’s left?

With this in mind I left the hair and decided to just rush through the corridors of work hoping that people wouldn’t really notice. I have actually experienced taking bad hair to work before – the difference then was that I didn’t know it was bad… I actually thought it was funky. However the comments that brightly started “Oh you’ve changed your hair” and then just hung in the air as I waited for the “it looks nice” that never came, told me otherwise. Typically the day I took this hairstyle to work was the day that everyone seemed to have a question for me. To my surprise the hair received rave reviews.

Having now canvassed friends, family and those other people who you speak to but who don’t fit into either of those two main categories, it seems that those people who really know me don’t really like it, and those who know me less well think it’s great. My conclusion from this is that it’s a good hairstyle, I’ve seen loads of others with it recently… but it just doesn’t suit me and my personality. But I’ve not given up – I’m gonna try a weave again… but maybe I’ll go for the curls with the red hue.

Ok as a quick introduction I should say that I love going to the movies but I’m not a film buff with loads of knowledge about who directed what, when, and what it all meant. I should also say that I am not a great rugby fan – but I know a man who is – so here goes….

Invictus is a film about the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the fortunes of the South African team. The story is basically how Nelson Mandela “helped” the team and vice versa.

Now despite not being a rugby fan this film actually seemed to go pretty quickly for me.  It was engaging enough and I learned something. You could tell Clint Eastwood (the director) was hoping to rouse some emotion from the depth of a probably indifferent audience – but for some reason it missed my heart strings and sort of grazed my arm – which got a little goose pimply at the theme tune over the finale.

Now I’ve heard that the rugby scenes are pretty good, and there were Oscar nominations for Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman so critically it’s faired quite well. However I didn’t think the performances were outstanding, the rugby scenes looked fine to me – but ultimately it just ok, and a bit forgettable. But if you’re a girlfriend, or a wife who gets “encouraged” to go…. do not be afraid, you shouldn’t fall asleep and you might actually come away with something to talk about other than how buff Matt Damon looks (oh and he does fleeting look buff).

Hope that helps!

I have black hair. Not black as in colour but black as in kinky afro. It’s a fact. But one of the questions that seems to structure my life is – what to do with a problem like black hair?

“Problem”… that may be too strong an accusation… but over the course of my life I regularly find myself asking the question – what should I do with my hair?  It’s a question that many women will be familar with whether they have black hair or not but I find that the question takes on extra levels of complication as a woman of the diaspora with an actual afro to manage.

In an ideal world I would look at a magazine, or a famous person – pop to the hair dresser and pay for them to work their magic. But… it doesn’t work like that.

For example if I see a short style I like in a magazine – you can’t just go and get it cut, safe in the knowledge that if it’s not quite right it’ll grow out in a month. There’s a real chance that a bad hair cut could stay with me for yeeeeeeeaaaaaaars, that’s yeeeeeeeeaaaaaars of taking the hair dresser’s name in vain and muttering dark thoughts under my breath whenever I walk past a mirror, as I wait for my hair to get back to a decent length. Cutting it on a whim is just a foolish idea. It needs to be investigated, it needs to be thoroughly researched, ideally i need to see someone else who looks  just like me in it before I take the plunge.

Ok so I see a famous person whose hair I like…. for example Beyonce. But Beyonce is an international mega star, probably with a top hair specialist or two in her entourage to ensure her hair is fabulous 24/7.  When I go to the hair dresser and they tell me it’s going to be £100 for the weave and extra for the hair…. for that kind of money I want some assurance that it’s going to actually look amazing when I come out of the shop and at least a bit gorgeous in three months time. But not being within a black community it’s difficult to find a good black hair dresser. It really is a case, especially in the early days of just taking the plunge – but who has that kind of money to waste on a dodgy weave?

So why don’t I just leave it natural? ARE YOU CRAZY? I am already the token woman of colour in my world – having an actual afro…out there, wild and free… they’d think I’d gone native! I’m just joking with that last comment, but a fro for me still poses problems. Firstly there’s the fact that I’d look like a boy – I know there are black women across the country rocking a practical low fro – but as I am neither a fine slim woman with delicate features or a strong voluptuous beauty – a fro for me results in biological and sexual ambiguity. Secondly, I have been advised against it in the past. It was one of those times when i was asking this very question, I’d recently read a piece about black women not being proud of their black hair and wanting to look like European women, it talked about famous black women (popstars and actresses) all having straight hair and how bad it was that they were abandoning their heritage. Inspired I went to the hairdresser and when she asked me what i wanted I boldly (half heartedly) said, “well ideally I’d like to leave it natural”. The hairdresser looked me in the eye, via the mirror, tried to run her hand through the dry entangled mound on my head nearly spraining her wrist in the process and simply said, “I think it would be better if you didn’t”.

So again i find myself asking the question what should i do with my hair – but despite being in my (early) 30s I still don’t have the answer.