Gordy was standing on a dining chair in his nan’s front room holding a chipped and glued tea plate and eating burnt, buttery toast whilst his nan knelt on the floor, her mouth full of pins as she tacked the side-seams of Gordy’s hideously expensive, brand new 501s.
“I need them to be tight, Nan,” said Gordy, trying to remember how tight Steve Cool’s Levis looked when he visited Bailey’s Bandstand but instead thinking how tight Pippa’s cut-offs looked and how firm her breast felt under his palm as he accidentally touched it.
For a brief moment, he felt faint and nearly fell off the chair.
“Hold still, will you!” Mumbled Nan, through clamped lips, whilst tugging on the bottom of the jeans. “If you want them right then you’ll have to keep still.”
Gordy didn’t really know how tight the jeans were supposed to be as he’d paid far more attention to Pippa’s denims than he had to Steve Cool’s but the salesman in Debenhams had said ‘shrink-fit’ meant shrinking them to the wearer’s body shape so Gordy could only assume that they had to be as tight as possible.
“Make them as tight as you can, Nan, please,” he said.
“Are you sure, Oddbod? You don’t want them to rip.”
Gordy almost laughed. Of course they wouldn’t rip. Everyone wore tight jeans nowadays and none of them seemed to rip. Besides, these were Levi 501s, the Rolls-Royce of jeans, not the flimsy brushed-denim, patch-pocketed inferior type that his mum usually bought him from Foster Brothers or Burtons.
“They’ll be fine, Nan, don’t worry,” he said suppressing a smile. “Just make them tight, please.”
Meanwhile, Daisy was nibbling politely on her too burnt, too buttery toast whilst talking to Grandad and Madge, Nan’s best-friend and next door neighbour who had recently arrived. She had appeared at the back door much like she did at regular intervals throughout the day, usually when the kettle had just boiled, and let herself in with her customary “Cooey!” battle cry – even though they had seen her and waved to her through the lounge window when she had opened the back gate.
Madge was thin, wiry and wrinkled with an elaborately styled hair-do that looked a little bit like an over-sized, over-dyed, blonde crash helmet and clothes that were clearly designed for a woman fifty years younger. She was, however, kind and considerate and worshipped the ground Nan walked on who, in her eyes, could do no wrong.
The conversation had somehow gotten around to the roller-disco and Daisy was telling them all about it. Gordy and his nan were in easy earshot as the front room was accessed through a set of glass sliding doors that separated it from the lounge. The doors were presently open so that everyone could be involved in the conversation.
It was at this point that Daisy made her fatal error.
Quite innocently, she mentioned that she was planning on getting her hair done for the big event, not noticing the sudden gleam in Madge’s eyes or Grandad shifting slightly uncomfortably in his chair. Nan, too, stopped pinning and turned to look at Daisy, willing her not to continue.
But Daisy was oblivious. “Yes,” she said, “I’m hoping to have it styled like Farrah Fawcett-Majors – you know, Jill Munroe from Charlie’s Angels?”
Grandad didn’t know, nor did Nan and neither did Madge but that didn’t stop her from saying “Ooh, yes. Lovely. That would look so nice on you – really suit you.”
“Do you think so?”
“Yes, definitely,” said Madge. “I can see it now. Beautiful. But it’s an easy cut – especially for someone with such lovely hair.”
Daisy had never heard anyone describe her hair as ‘lovely’ before and was so flattered she didn’t notice Grandad nearly choking on his tea or Nan almost swallowing a pin. Even Gordy stopped chewing on his last mouthful of toast as he listened, aghast, with butter running down his chin.
“Thank you,” gushed Daisy, “That’s so nice of you to say.”
“It’s nothing but the truth my dear. Your hair would be a pleasure to cut – I would do it for nothing – I mean, even after all my years as a hairdresser, it’s still lovely to see such a wonderful head of hair.”
Grandad was now looking over at Nan with alarm in his eyes whilst she, in turn, was positively glaring at Daisy, desperately trying to prevent her from falling into the opening trap. Gordy, too, was wishing he could employ the Jedi Mind Trick and was trying to use The Force to tell Daisy that ‘This was not the hairdresser she was looking for’, but Daisy stumbled unwittingly on.
“You’re a hairdresser?” she asked Madge, which was the $64,000 question – to which the $64,000 answer should have been a resounding ‘NO!’
Madge had worked in hairdressers once in the early fifties – sweeping the floor and making tea, sometimes washing hair but she was NEVER a hairdresser even though she liked to think that she was.
Of course, poor Daisy wasn’t to know that for ‘Crimes Against Hairdressing’ Madge had previous form. Barb, Alan, Kev, Gordy and Nan, too, had all been past victims of one of her scalpings, each having been lulled into it by Madge’s flattering and fictitious credentials. Only Grandad had escaped because he was bald and Izzy because after her other two children had been sheared within an inch of their lives, Barb swore it would never happen again.
However, Madge just smiled knowingly at Daisy and replied, “Ever heard of Mister Teasy Weasy or Vidal Sassoon?”
Daisy hadn’t but said “Yes.”
“Well, I’m Madge Essom.” This was clearly not an answer that meant anything whatsoever – it certainly wasn’t the answer as to whether she was a hairdresser or not but Daisy seemed to miss this completely.
“Wow,” she said.
“Yes, wow,” said Madge proudly. And then came the hammer blow. “I could do yours if you like – save you a lot of money. Won’t take long?”
By now, Nan was shaking her head furiously and trying to verbalise a warning but her mouth was so full of pins that it resembled a porcupine’s bum and she could do nothing but make some very odd noises.
Grandad was trying to defuse the situation by saying, “Oh come, now, Madge – you’re far too busy,” even though the woman hadn’t actually been ‘busy’ since 1967 but he was grabbing at straws. “And Daisy, surely you’d be better off going to a place that’s much more young and trendy—” he continued desperately before being cut-off.
“Young and trendy!” Exclaimed Madge, “Why how old do you think I am, Sid?” Grandad knew for a fact that she was not a day younger than seventy-eight but thought it best not to bring it up. “I’ll have you know that I still keep up with the fashions and would like nothing better than to help Daisy out – and save the poor girl some money too!”
“Do you think you could cut it like Jill Munroe?” Daisy broke in.
“Jill who? Oh, yes you mean the little girl from ‘Charlie’s Thingamajig’s’, yes, of course I can. Easy.”
‘Little girl’ and ‘Charlie’s Thingamajig’s’ should have been enough to stop Daisy in her tracks but instead, whilst Gordy, Nan and Grandad were waving their hands and shaking their heads in a bid to stop her, she said, “That would be great, thanks.”
“Super,” said Madge. “Come with me and we’ll get started straight away.”
“No, Daisy, wait!” Shouted Nan, frantically spitting pins out on the carpet. “Stay here, please – have some more toast, have a drink! – Sid, show some gumption, quick!” ‘Show some gumption’ was another one of Nan’s famous phrases and meant ‘show some initiative’.
“Yes, stay!” Said Grandad trying to do what his wife had demanded. “Stay and have some Nesquik – please!” The word ‘Nesquik’ had never previously passed Grandad’s lips and he knew not what it was but it had to be better than the fate that awaited Daisy at Madge’s house.
“Why, Sid, Mrs Lancaster, anyone would think you don’t trust me to cut Daisy’s hair – which of course, I know is not true.” Said Madge, “She’ll look perfectly lovely when I’ve finished with her – just like this Charlie she loves.”
“Jill Munroe FROM Charlie’s Angels,” said Daisy correcting Madge.
“Yes, quite, dear, Charlie from The Angels,” said Madge.
Nan and Grandad were speechless now. They knew Daisy was lost and they wished they could save her but it was too late.
However, Gordy wasn’t ready to give up. “Hadn’t you better be going home?” He said, attempting to save his friend from Madge’s incompetent clutches one last time. “Your mum and dad will probably be worried!”
Daisy smiled. “You’ve met my mum and dad, right?” She replied sarcastically, “I’ll be fine, don’t worry. I’ll meet you on Saturday night down at the roller-disco. I’ll be the one who looks like Jill Munroe.”
More like bloody Matt Munro, Gordy thought, if Madge had anything to do with it. But he remained silent as Daisy, being led by the hand, left Nan’s house by the back door and headed innocently to Madge’s ‘salon’ next door.
As Gordy and his nan and grandad looked helplessly on, it was like watching a lamb going off to slaughter.
“Oh shit and corruption,” said Nan, using yet another of her famous phrases.
And Gordy and Grandad couldn’t have agreed more.
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