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A Shout From The Attic: Being A Missionary - 6

"For reasons strictly connected with youthful vanity and a complete lack of good sense, I decided to dye my hair,'' writes Ronnie Bray.

A fond wife threw a bottle of hair renewer
at her husband's head, at which he exclaimed:
“We must part--the dye is cast."

For reasons strictly connected with youthful vanity and a complete lack of good sense, I decided to dye my hair. In latter part of 1956, I was serving in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, as the missionary companion of Korean veteran Elder Billy Ray Anderson who hailed from Green River, Wyoming. We lived in a room of The Chapel, Knapp Road, in Cheltenham, and had use of a toilet and a kitchen, but there was no bathroom. Our personal hygiene was taken care of at the nearby public baths run by the Town Corporation. For a few pennies we could take a bath in good hot water, and shampoo our hair by kneeling up in the bath and dipping our heads under the water.

My common brown hair was fated to be turned to a luscious jet black by the sachet of mordant elements I bought at the chemist’s. Wet hair, rub in, wait, rinse off, dry hair, comb, amaze and mystify your friends and astound your enemies. It seemed like a good idea. I bought it.

Our next visit to the baths, and I took the brew with me. Thanking the portly and slow ambler who operated the taps from outside the slipper bath enclosure, of which there were roughly a dozen, for his generosity with the hot water, I knelt and opened the mystic sachet that would my leaden hair to black transmute. Then I dunked my hair into the water clear, before pouring on it the magic slime, rubbing it in as directed, to achieve maximum colouration.

Leaving the potion on my hair, I turned my attention to the rest of my toilette, soaping and cleansing my body until it was done, and time to remove the chemical poultice from my head. I dunked and dunked and dunked, until the water ran yellow – yellow! I expected black! Leaping from the bath, I examined myself in the mirror. My hair was darker, to be sure, but my face was yellow. I scrubbed and scrubbed but traces of the jaundice remained. Billy Ray laughed to see such fun, but in the space of a week, my face had returned to normal – and so had my hair.

Perhaps there is something in the old axiom that talks about being satisfied with what you have and the folly of believing that the grass is greener – or blacker – on the other side of the hedge. I have not coloured my hair again.


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