Column: When the perm was a cut above

Carol Forster
Carol Forster

We all had them once - squirly whirly things that sat on your head like some kind of tropical mammal. The perm!

At one time it was just grannies, then the word seemed to spread and it was the thing to do, regardless of your hair type or whether it suited you.

You would sit there with the giant egg box over your head – one of several in a line – and nasty chemicals frizzing your hair to oblivion.

This, alongside the blue rinsers who arrived, after taking of their rainmates.

Back in those days, when you went to the hairdresser, you didn’t have all the fancy stuff of the modern experience with its straighteners, modern dryers, foils and the like.

Instead, you would see a lady with a pair of sharp scissors and a seat where you perched to have your fringe cut.

The old ladies may have been blasted with hairspray that would erect hair hard enough to build a house with!

I remember even earlier, as a tot, sitting on a high hairdressing chair with feet dangling, watching the old ladies around on their regular.

It was a more straightforward business back then, though nonetheless pleasant, and the one we frequented would even give you a lollipop on your way out, which made it worth going, in my young opinion.

It seemed to compensate for the pudding bowl haircut and the stifling aroma of spray. Then, once done, an Alice band or some pieces of brightly cut ribbon would tie the sixties hair neatly into ponytails or plaits.

Admittedly it wasn’t the all round experience of today, with cups of tea or nail painting as a sideline, yet I think it was still enjoyable back then.

The old ladies would put on their rain macs and rainmates and head out into the northern weather, come rain or shine.

Then a couple of decades later came the days of the male perm which was quite a different story but one that remains firmly in mind.

At that point, practically all of the human race seemed to have the squirly whirly thang going on, apart from the mullet heads of course.

There certainly seemed to be some resistance to straight hair back then.

Peculiar really!