Those hanks of hair in the windows of Afro-Caribbean hairdressers; those hanks … all buttery in the neon light – my hair, buttery also, and coming out in … hanks. I go to the East End to have it replaced, on the Docklands Light Railway it’s still coming out in brown strands that turn to yellow greasy smears on the moquette.
The other passengers move away from me, I’m alone, slipping about on the front seat, as the dinky little carriage goes into the ski jump just before Limehouse station. F has opened a salon off the Mile End Road – strange, for a fiftyish middle-class woman who’s worked all her life in publishing. It must be something to do with her daughter, who she adopted alone from an agency in Sierra Leone. The little girl is now a great strapping thing with fat arms, and she’s crammed into a pink and glittery tank top. She welcomes me with a big hug, seats me in the chair, and then gets on with the job: taking entire half-pound pats of Anchor butter and slamming against my balding head. I weep with relief.