Tag Archives: Style

I Need A Haircut

Today, we got the clippers out and all three boys braved my previously-untested hair dressing skills. I used to cut my own when I couldn’t afford for someone else to do it, but that was in the distant past and didn’t necessarily yield the best results. Since I don’t want a buzzcut, my locks are as yet unmolested. It’s a couple of months since they had anything done, so they are getting scraggy and the ends have started to split. I need a hair cut.

But in a very real sense, I do not need a haircut. When people protest about lockdown, the closure of hair salons seems to serve as a posterchild for the restriction of our liberties. After all, it’s not something you can really do yourself, especially if you live alone, and most people of all genders and walks of life are used to having “smart” “styled” hair. We see it as a necessity.

It’s not though, is it? The concept of smart, styled hair is very new in the course of human endeavour. As much as the stars and stylists of the screen seem to ignore this, most people weren’t having a regular cut and blow dry >100 years ago (Sorry, “Last Kingdom”), and if the apocalpyse came, we wouldn’t still be made up and coiffured while we fought rival tribes and races for land and food. (I’m looking at you “The 100”.)

Finan..... I call him Yum Yum lol (With images) | The last kingdom ...Clarke Griffin - Wikipedia

Even when I was a kid, your hair was probably cut by your parents, possibly using a pudding bowl as a guide. 200+ years ago, while the upper classes wore wigs to avoid the issue, most people probably kept their own hair either very long or very short (the better for keeping clean and lice-free too).

It’s not just new, it’s also Western. On volunteer trips to Ghana and Nepal, respectively, Jon and I met whole orphanages full of shaven-headed children (boys and girls alike). They didn’t notice or mind, they weren’t hankering after pony-tails, braids or bangs. There is no money for fashion when there isn’t enough money for food.

But even when there is the money, fashion is fickle. Smart and stylish are just words, which we have applied to the same thing for long enough that we’ve forgotten they can change. I doubt many Saxon warriors looked like Finan, and I doubt many post-apocolapse amazons will match Clarke. They would look at picutres of us with curiosity. But they wouldn’t necessarily consider our fashions superior, any more than most of us hanker after mullets, perms etc.

If the covid-cut comes your way, consider it a new way to explore yourself, express yourself, and redefine “style”. Maybe I’ll get that buzz cut after all!

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Not a good thing to end on

Fellow grammar police will have noticed that my post “I Should’ve Known” ended with a preposition. My excuse in that case was that I wasn’t using it as a preposition, so it’s OK, but where do we stand on the rule that you should never end a sentence with a preposition?

In my view, this is one of those grammar rules which is neither absolute nor obsolete. A bit like the rule against starting a sentence with a conjunction, it is a useful rule of thumb and a good one to teach beginners. More often than not, a sentence which breaks one of these rules will read badly and should be fixed, but in both cases, there may be very good style reasons not to change it.

Take a sentence which involves the title of this piece: A preposition is not a good thing to end a sentence on. If we “correct” that, it becomes: A preposition is not a good thing on which to end a sentence. Neither version is unduly unwieldy and therefore I would be inclined to use the latter. However, if you’re writing a casual piece, this version can often seem unnatural and cumbersome and, these days, this rule is rarely followed.

If one is looking for publication, one must of course be guided by house style. Otherwise, I think it’s a matter for the writer’s discretion.  And the same goes for choosing a conjunction to start a sentence with. 😉

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