Locks and Other Things Coming Out of Lockdown

Photo by Diane Bunyan, The Workshop (Hairdressers), Airdrie

This strange photograph, which to my eyes has the appearance of two fluffy poodles competing in a race against each other, was taken by my hairdresser following my recent appointment for a lockdown-style haircut. The photo captures the hair gathered up following that event. 

It took me over nine months to grow those luxurious lockdown locks. They gave me great comfort during that period. In a school magazine decades ago I had a piece of prose published which described my slightly long hair at that time as ‘nature’s scarf’; my detached locks are now useful only for stuffing a couch (if they still do that kind of thing these days).

I genuinely have felt very much colder during the last eight days, and I’m conscious I’ve been a bit quieter too. There’s many reasons for my reduced volume but the chill has felt like a physical weakness.

Though I have never imagined myself as any kind of Samson (who got his strength from his hair), I have gained a little understanding of the way he must have felt when a treacherous Delilah arranged for a trim so that he could be handed over to his Philistine enemies without offering resistance.

Confidence is a strength and I feel that the removal of my Covid comfort blanket of hair has left me feeling exposed, naked and, as I mentioned before, kinda cold.

Before continuing, I should clarify that there was no devious Delilah involved in my story, that I arranged the appointment myself and the hairdresser followed my instructions.

Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com

More than that, I even brought my Irish passport with me to give the hairdresser an idea of the style I was looking for. On looking at the passport photo, my hairdresser remarked that there is no way in the world passport control would have accepted it as an accurate likeness of the way I looked pre-haircut!

You will notice that I have not attached a photograph of my newly-shorn head and so far very few people (some on Zoom) have seen the shock transformation.

Speaking of Zoom, this would be an appropriate time to mention that Dragonflies present…are supporting the launch of my debut chapbook Art of Insomnia at their event on Tuesday 4th May. I have three brilliant support stars, whose names I’ll reveal in a post closer to the date. There are also three other poets publicising new publications on the same evening.

Dragonflies events are very relaxed, friendly and welcoming and that’s why I’m delighted they offered me this opportunity. I know that if you come along you’ll find the evening enjoyable, and comfortable even if you’re not in the habit of attending literary events.

So, if you want to see what I really look like when I cannot hide under my hair, what are you waiting for? Although the event is free, you can only get in with a digital ticket from Eventbrite. Use the link here :-https://flightofthedragonfly.com/flight-of-the-dragonfly-presents/ – to access the Dragonflies present… page.

On that page you’ll find a link to register and book a digital ticket. There are also links to individual pages relating to each poet, so if you want to find out more about each of us and our books, and see a sample of what you will find therein, you can.

I hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there.

Advent Day 22: Obstacles

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Broken Washing Machine, Late Receipt of Christmas Card Order, An Unexpected Visit, Winter Warmer. 

These are not new poem titles but four actual happenings which I could claim prevented me from writing a blog today. Obstacles. Excuses, if you will.

Over time I have learned that apparent obstacles are often about whether your attitude or inclination is positive or negative. Are they something you stare at with despair accepting them as signals you should turn back? Or are these things over which you find a way to climb, things you try to overcome, with the possibility of bringing a smile of achievement to your face?

On a short post such as this there is no time nor any desire on my part to make a detailed analysis of how to deal with obstacles, so I’ll just use these four issues of an everyday nature to illustrate the point in a straightforward way. 

Each of these situations by itself would operate as a distraction which I could blame for a failure to post my blog. The fact that four did in fact occur on the same day would, in some views, absolve me entirely and give me a free pass.

To convince you of the time-consuming potential of the four setbacks, I’ll provide a bit more detail.

Situation 1. On the last two occasions I washed a load of laundry, the spin cycle did not work and I was left with a wet load for the tumble dryer. I do have a maintenance agreement but, before booking a repair, you must follow certain troubleshooting steps to check whether the washing machine can be fixed by the owner before calling out an engineer. This is particularly important because there is a strain on technician resources at present and a repair booking may not be available at an early date. I started to foresee the Festive Season as a probable laundry pile-up period

Situation 2. This year I decided to order 40 Christmas cards directly from a charity I support, and sent an order and cheque to the Freepost address of the supplier on 21 November. The cards finally arrived yesterday afternoon, a full calendar month later, just as I was going out shopping.

Situation 3. In the early part of today I had many other routine things to attend to and when I got those out of the way, I had decided to have a shower before tackling Situations 1 and 2. Just then the door bell sounded. Thinking it was just a parcel delivery, I went to the front door in my Covid leisure wear (Pullover and PJ bottoms). To my embarrassment it was an unexpected visitor with a Christmas gift. She asked if she’d got me out of bed. I had to ask her to wait for a moment outside of the house because Covid rules meant I could not ask her in. I quickly got changed, tidied myself up a little then joined her outside for a chat. Given her generosity it was incumbent on me to give her my time which I was more than happy to do.

Situation 4. I had booked a Zoom ticket for a special Cheltenham Poetry Festival Zoom Event called Winter Warmer with a number of poetry and musical contributions, and John Hegley as the Featured Poet.

Situation 3, as you will have noted, sorted itself out at the expense of a bit of embarrassment and some time. Having a proper chat and catch-up was the right thing to do and we both enjoyed it, but it did eat into the time available to accomplish the other matters.

You’re probably thinking I should have given the Zoom Event a miss to take the pressure off but I decided that would only happen as a last resort.

Instead I just focused and took the proverbial bulls by the horns, telling myself to relax and everything would work out fine.

Situation 1 resolved itself fairly quickly. It did not take long to find that the necessary repair to my washing machine could not be done except by a trained engineer. I went through the booking system and arranged the repair for Christmas Eve.

Situation 2 was more time-consuming. I just had to knuckle down and write out the Christmas Cards as efficiently as I could, take some to the Post Office and deliver a few locally, getting back home just five minutes before the Zoom Event was due to start. 

Situation 4. I joined the Zoom Poetry Event on time but with the video off so that I could complete a few other tasks and get changed into an Elf costume (don’t ask!) before being seen.

So all the situations were dealt with, the perceived obstacles were overcome. I felt happy and satisfied at the end of it all. 

I offered myself no excuses, and ended up enjoying all of the experiences which had felt like obstacles.

That is also why I’m writing this post very late!