Monday 19 May 2014

Passivity in threes

I’m having a gorgeous time by the beach at the moment.  But a couple of weeks ago it was a disaster which came in threes.    
Reflecting on the blows I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t more stressed.  Was it the parallel joy of reconnecting with loved ones in Australia?  Was I in a particularly sanguine mood?  Or perhaps too shocked to react?

I’ve decided it was simply that I couldn’t get the milk back in the bottle.  The damage was done.  Beyond my control.   So the electrical circuits in my brain disengaged and watched from afar – waiting for the future to slowly reveal itself... rather than fighting or resisting the reality of the situation.  And it was this passivity, this instant resignation, which I found to be far less stressful than trying to affect change.
In some respects this can’t be a permanent state of affairs.  Apart from the fact that I’m probably the least passive person you could ever meet, there are practicalities which will eventually demand attention and action. But in the short term, it was an interesting experience in letting stuff wash over you.  And I’m inclined to think that lessons I’ve learnt from living in a big tough city like London, have been unexpectedly beneficial.

The three disasters:

1)    My house has been trashed.  There are holes in the walls.  Broken doors.  Incredibly stained carpet.  A pesky cat who is busily pulling out threads on the now wilting carpet. So much dirt, dust and clutter that who knows how many creepy-crawlies have found a home.  A collapsed retaining wall in the rear courtyard (which the Body Corporate were supposed to fix over two years ago).  And everything is breaking at once such that I have to quickly replace things like the oven, garage door motor, floor tiles etc.  This was quite a shock when only two and a half years ago the house was in perfect condition.  And the tenants smiled and told me they’d cleaned the place in anticipation of my inspection!  Hmm, none so queer as folk...

2)    I went to a new hairdresser to get a tiny bit of colour on the roots of my hair; just to tide me over until I get back to London.  And after decades of insisting on a natural look and only a subtle use of highlights... the new brand she used turned a T shape stripe across my head bright orange.  Seriously, Bozo the Clown orange – not at all complimentary to my former golden-copper tones.  Yes, aaaggghhh!  My hair is my thing.  So what could I do except let her try to fix it.  She added another colour, then my hair went purple.  Yes, mahogany purple.  The poor girl was as stunned as I was.  She called the Hairdresser’s Crisis Helpline (apparently there is such a thing) and they told her to give me a bleach shampoo.  Really?  On my very natural and never bleached hair?   Aaaggghhh again.  Then my scalp and forehead went bright red and started to sting.  She added more colour, something to take the brightness out, and a few highlights to aid the blend.  And six hours later I left the salon with patchy red skin on my face and still looking very much like a relative of Bozo or a raging Drag Queen.  I’ve washed my hair daily, my scalp has peeled off in disgusting clumps, and only in the last few days has it faded enough for me to not want to have a bag on my head.  But what could I do.  She didn’t mean it.  She didn’t charge me.  And she really tried to help...

3)    I received a letter from the publisher of my children’s books telling me with pride that the GirlzRock and BoyzRule series have been released as CDs.  An exciting development, after several years, to have these new readers going out anew to school libraries.  I open the accompanying package with enthusiasm and there is my name on the cover – spelt incorrectly!  I am immortalized as Julie Mullens right when I’m out there discussing publication of a long awaited new book as Julie Mullins.  Doh!

I was beginning to think I’d been jinxed, given these three incidents occurred on three consecutive days.  However as I sit on the plane on my way to Auckland, I can see the funny side.  And I wonder how many hours it will take my precious friend Hayley to ask: “what the hell happened to your hair Mullins?”  
She didn’t exactly say that, as we were distracted by her new baby and the toddler competing for attention.  But her honest friendship could be relied upon when, after about thirty hours, I blurted out the Major Hairdresser Malfunction story and she sighed “oh thank goodness you don’t think it looks good... I was getting worried”. 

So I did what you can do: I opened a bottle of wine and tried to forget about it.  There’s still time to sort out my house and tenants... she says optimistically... my lovely hairdresser, Toni, will rescue my locks the day I get off the plane again in London... and I guess children aged 5 to 7 years don’t really care about the names of authors on their books... so my ego will just have to get over it.
Meanwhile I’m at the beach in Kiama on the south coast of NSW, the sun is shining, the water is gloriously warm, and I’m having very valuable time with my dear Mum.  You’d be mad to worry about much else really.

Ah, passive.   Not usually me.  But nice to try it on.

Toni Benjamin – my wonderful (regular) hairdresser -
(ph) +44 7810 454389