ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

When Autumn Leaves (and my hair) Start to Fall


Mother Nature, mistress of the seasons, seems to have completely skipped summer this year as autumn tightens its golden grip and the jobsworthy gardeners amongst us will have already planted their daffodil bulbs in readiness for next spring. Yet autumn, the season of decay and mellow fruitfulness has come around far too soon for my liking and along with the falling leaves and the famous song, my hair seems to be following suite – although, it isn’t exactly drifting past my window and neither is it red, or even gold at the moment, as I can’t afford to go to the hairdresser these days the prices they charge, but my once tousled and unruly mane is definitely losing its not so golden grip and shedding all around. Now, I don’t know whether this is down to the new meds, a side effect of which is hair loss, the season of decay and mellow fruitfulness, or my age – a bit like the poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sherlock’s (or sheer locks as we are talking about hair) brother perhaps? –  


“The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first grey hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many.”


Well, I may not be a beauty, but I definitely feel as though I have seen one season too many and so apparently does my falling hair, which I hope like the daffodils will pop back up in the spring, although I would look a bit daft with daffodils growing out of the top of my head.

Cost aside, an urgent consultation with my hairdresser was deemed necessary in view of my falling locks, as opposed to leaves, but I find as I get older, I dread a visit to the salon more and more. This is down to two reasons. One you have to sit there in front of a mirror and stare at your face for hours on end with your hair scraped back, thus exposing your wrinkles, turkey neck etc. in all their glory and two you are obliged to indulge in polite conversation with your stylist. In other words, you have to talk about frivolous things, such as holidays or where you are going that night, which in my case is usually nowhere. So I have to make up some mythical engagement, otherwise my stylist might lose interest in the end result if I am only going to sleep on it – and sadder still, sleep on it alone.


By placing yourself in your stylist’s hands you are also putting yourself in a position of extreme danger, as at some point they will be wielding a pair of razor sharp scissors, so you have to be very careful what you say for fear of annoying, antagonising or upsetting them. The fact that your hair is getting thinner is cruelly and unnecessarily pointed out to you and meaningful questions are then asked, such as, not been looking after yourself lately, or the dreaded and more revealing question of, are you on any kind of medication which could be causing this extreme hair loss? This leads to the quandary of whether or not to reveal to your hairdresser that you are HIV positive. Why should you, you may respond, as hair is hardly a danger, as supposedly it’s already dead, or like mine, about to become an endangered species. However, what if there should be a slip of the scissors twixt hair and lip?

Until now, I have not given this question much thought, but in view of my public profile, I wondered if my stylist had finally got wind of me, so to speak and if it was time to let it all out, although not the wind I hasten to add, which according to medical advice is better out than in – but definitely not advisable, I would have thought, in a public place.


I’ve been going to the same hairdresser now for years, but unlike me, she never looks a day older and her ever changing underlings and trainees, like policemen and newsreaders seem to be getting younger and younger every time I go and what’s more they seem to speak in some sort of indecipherable young person’s code. I think this aberration of the English language has come about through the use of mobile phones and the national obsession with texting. For example, the word ‘book’ now means ‘cool’ because apparently that’s what your phone comes up with if it’s set to predictive text. Even more confusingly, at least for the likes of me, ‘long’ now means boring or overcomplicated, as in, ‘that short film was very long.’


I’d better be careful then when I ask my hairdresser to keep my hair long, as it might end up being short – or worse being boring.


I didn’t know either that if a person was suffering from ‘fomo’ it was not a new term for being a gay female but a fear of missing out, or that young people no longer have wardrobes, they have chairdrobes, which doesn’t really surprise me considering my son, who doesn’t have either, instead he has a  floordrobe.  It seems people no longer have what used to be termed as a holiday romance, they have a vacationship, but not obviously with a nillionaire as they have texspectations – as in greater presumably.

Nowadays you might come across some strange and mysterious abbreviations on mobile phones, such as ‘focl’ which stands for, falling off chair laughing, or ‘ricl’ rolling in chair laughing. Picnic is no longer a jaunt into the countryside with a hamper; it is short for – problem in chair not in computer. Is that a bit like computer says no in ‘Little Britain’?


But beware if you see the letters ‘tgwig’ inscribed on your husbands mobile phone, he is not talking about branches or wigs for his balding pate, he is saying – thank god wife is gone, or likewise watch out for the letters ‘dnimb’, which mean – dancing naked in my bra, which would be even more unsettling in that they could signify he had suddenly taken up cross dressing.

Baggkyko is not a little elf from the hobbit or ‘Lord of the Rings’, it means, be a good girl and keep your knickers on. I think the next example is more likely to be used by a much older texter, possibly an inmate of a nursing home, ‘ihtgttbwijd’ – I have to go to the bathroom, wait I just did.

I don’t know, life was so much simpler when I was young, as was going to the hairdresser, although some of the methods of achieving the style of the day, which at the time was a curly mane or ringlets, were tortuous to say the least. Pride suffers pain, my mother used to say, yanking my hair into sections then rolling it up in knobbly rags, which I was then forced to sleep on, or not as the case was more likely to be. I thought this barbaric custom had died out with the dark ages, but apparently not. There are many current websites containing references to the ragging of hair and there is even a You tube video you can watch. To save you the bother, if you fancy yourself with ringlets, although do take care if you are of a certain age as there is a danger of looking like ‘whatever happened to baby Jane’, here are the step by step directions copied from one enthusiastic ragger.

Preparation Work

“First you will need some rags which are strips of cloth, such as an old sheet, one of your husband’s old shirts, or even socks! To make your “rags” simple tear up the cloth evenly one inch by two inches. I have a supply of 40-50 of these strips handy at all times.”

All I can say is with that amount of rags it’s a wonder her husband has any shirts left, or socks for that matter, although to be frank, it’s a miracle she’s still got a husband if she goes to bed with forty to fifty socks rolled up on the top of her head.

“Now for the ragging,” she continues enthusiastically, “Ragging works best if you have wet hair, so wash your hair well, use leave-in conditioner and comb through hair. Now your hair is ready to be ragged, although it is best to rag your hair a few days before the event, as your hair may not be the way you planned.”

What does she mean by that, not the way you planned. That sounds a bit ominous to me. Maybe she forgot to add take the socks out.

Now You Are Ready

“Begin at the front of your head, take a strip of your hair and lay a rag, (or sock presumably) then roll up and tie in a knot, or secure with a bobby pin (bobby pin – never heard of one of those but I’ve heard of a bobbys helmet) or by tying off the rag strip with a nice bow. Repeat this all over your head. You can then blow it dry (or presumably get someone to do it for you) or sleep on it. Now you’re ready for a good night’s rest!”

Is she kidding?

“When you awaken in the morning and you are ready to style your hair, take it down out of the pins or rags. Your hair will be free of tangles and should have taken a very nice curl. ENJOY!!

Curls aloud as opposed to ‘Girls Aloud’

“You may have fun experimenting with how tight you roll your curls up. However, keep in mind, humidity does play a factor in how long you keep your curls. On the days that I am not sure of the humidity, I bring a nice barrette with me just in case I need to clip my hair back due to a loss of curl.”

That sounds a bit extreme not to mention against health and safety regulations, wrapping your hair round a sandwich or a bread roll.

“However, if you prefer body and waves over curls, roll your hair up in a tight bun and pin up on the top of your head, but not too high, or you’ll notice a crease in the front of your hair when you take it down in the morning!

You might also find a stray strip of salami or considering her reference to buns the odd maraschino cherry.

“As you can see, these clever curls are easy-to-do and can be very convenient towards preventing tangling and a sweaty neck in the summertime. Give it a try some weekend for something fun and a bit different to do! Happy Hair Days to You All!”

I think I’ll give it a miss, thanks all the same and risk having a sweaty neck – sounds disgusting. I think I’ll also give going to the hairdressers a miss in the future, in that way at least I’d be better off financially. Although there’s one good thing about it I suppose, at least you get to read all the current magazines, the ones you wouldn’t normally bother with, such as ‘Hello’ and the likes and within their glossy pages you can discover all kinds of things. For example, I had no idea there was such a thing as vibrating mascara, imagine the damage you could do with that.

As I left the salon that day after parting with all that dosh on my credit card, I was handed a huge carrier bag with some free samples lurking at the bottom and a couple of boiled sweets. I sucked the sweets on my way home by way of consolation and the next time I came to wash my hair, I routed around in the bottom of the bag and took the samples with me into the shower. I peered at the sachet marked shampoo with my misted over glasses – sensitive skin formula specially formulated to help relieve skin irritations, moisturise dry itchy skin and promote healing (there, I knew my hairdresser was on to me) although it would take more that a bit of oatmeal, aloe vera and sweet almond oil to heal what’s ailing me. However, I carefully followed the directions; massage into damp fur avoiding eyes and ears and work lather down to tail. Well, I know my hair is long and scruffy and at times hangs over my eyes, but what did she think I was, a golden Retriever, or worse a poodle. I read on, ‘towel dry then brush until coat is completely dry.’

It seems, as I found out after wiping my glasses on the towel, that the makers of the hair products my particular salon uses has come up with a new range especially designed for pets. What’s more, the new motto inscribed on their carrier bags is – giving back is the new black.

Well how about giving some money back instead, or at least some free samples not designed for canines? It’s a wonder she didn’t give me some flea powder for good measure.

The way things now stand in regard to my falling locks is this, although I am now considerably financially worse off, I  have the perfect camouflage for autumn and can blend in with my surroundings with ease with my branches exposed to the elements – not to mention my ears.

1 Comment»

  barb wrote @

Well, Adrienne, after such a humiliating and traumatic time at the hairdressers due to your recent hair loss, I have to say that I consider both myself and your sister extremely fortunate. Not having been recipients of the thick and lustrous hair gene which is prevalent and prominent in some members of the family, we have thankfully avoided this ‘later-life’ shock! For us, pathetically thin hair, consistent extensions and the odd hat have been a way of life – the latter usually worn on a windy evening when the threat of ‘ear protrudence’ is at its highest! Not for you has there been the need to ‘pull and spray’ in an attempt to achieve that full- bodied (a head with hair) look – you didn’t think we liked looking like that, did you?!! Anyway, suffice to say, should you need any tips (in about a hundred years when your hair is anything like looking thin!), you know where to come!! I bet your ears are flat as well, aren’t they?!! Barb XX

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