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Letter From America: How Not To Lose Your Hair

...A fellow soldier back in the Fifties was completely hairless. He was a pleasant chap from Liverpool in the days when the Beatles were still grubs. If he minded being bald he didn’t say so, although he did keep his hat on at times when his brother warriors had theirs rolled up under an epaulette or parked on a nail driven into the barrack room wall for a cheap hat peg...

Ronnie Bray contemplates immanent baldness, then reaches a conclusion on how not to lose one's hair.

To read more of Ronnie's entertaining columns click on Letter From America in the menu on this page. Read also chapters from his life story, A Shout From The Attic.

It came to me this morning as I noticed that the hair on top of my head had assumed a kind of impish wispiness that some might take to be approaching baldness. After discussing the situation with the doggies, the answer came like a bolt of lightning. It was so easy. Since baldness is a spectre that haunts most men and some women during their advancing years – which are the years when you stop going forwards and start going backwards, so why do we call them ‘advancing’? Well, I will solve that problem tomorrow if I can get the doggie’s attention again.

A fellow soldier back in the Fifties was completely hairless. He was a pleasant chap from Liverpool in the days when the Beatles were still grubs. If he minded being bald he didn’t say so, although he did keep his hat on at times when his brother warriors had theirs rolled up under an epaulette or parked on a nail driven into the barrack room wall for a cheap hat peg. Not that the hats were cheap. The cost of replacing a capi militaire was almost a month's pay for an ordinary squaddie.

It was the hat peg that was cheap, being a spare nail that someone had pulled out of one of the rafter beams. The nails worked themselves loose for no apparent reason, and were then pressed into service as hat pegs, toothpicks, grout scrapers, towel holders, and every conceivable employment that the British soldier’s unlimited initiative is capable of inventing. The reason they were cheap is because they cost us nothing. They just worked their way out of the roof trestles and presented themselves ready for duty.

We never did fathom the mystery of the loose nails. Several of us took a closer look at them in situ when we swung down the barrack room from trestle to trestle in best simian fashion, but although they kept on coming loose and even falling onto the floor, we were unable to discover the cause of their surrender. Army life is replete with mysterious happenings.

For example, it is a military mystery why our depilated Scouser not only had to lay out his razor, comb, and lather brush for daily inspections, but also had to cough up a shilling every two weeks to placate the camp barber whose wrath was not worse than his trimming. Even though the man had a totally hairless body, the result, he said, of juvenile Scarlatina, he had to drop his offering into the barber’s begging bowl. Well, he didn’t actually drop it in: the Powers-That-Were – and many and mighty are they - filched the twelvepence from his pay and dropped it in the barber’s bucket on his behalf.

I would not be surprised to learn of an infantry battalion composed entirely of unipods who were nevertheless required under pain of having their knee bruised to shine both boots. Such is the military mind – perhaps an oxymoron – and soldiers blessed enough to have left their service days behind will have ample store of similar tales to tell.

In those days of our youth and immortality when we sported as carelessly as the ancient Olympians did, we gave bond thought to the possibility of coming baldness. True, we always had Craftsman Fletcher to remind us that God gives and God takes away, but that did not mean that we were in for the same any time in our foreseeable futures. Many of us had bald dads and granddads, but they were antediluvian so what could they expect but to lose their hair. I don’t like to brag, but not one of them needed to have lost their hair. If only my solution to the age old ageing problem had been around then!

My step-dad and my maternal grandfather were both bald enough for ten men, but I could not even imagine myself going down the same path. My patria biologicus still had a shock of nicely waved hair until he died. I am now the age he was when he quit life’s struggles for a quieter time. I don’t care that my hair is automatically thinning itself out, and if I did, it would be evidence only of male vanity, a false quality that serves us ill.

Even if I had cared about it before, I would have stopped worrying about it now because I have the ultimate solution to the vexed question, "What must I do to keep my hair and not lose it?"

Like cheap hat pegs and towel holders the solution is amazingly simple. Keep it in a cigar box!

Copyright © 2006 Ronnie Bray

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Other stories at:
http://www.2theheart.com/author_ronnie_bray
http://www.meridianmagazine.com/voices/011024summer.html

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