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Colourful, hair-raising times on the US celebrity circuit.

Byline: Elaine Morgan

LAST week a reader in cell biology announced that 60% of women worldwide dye their hair. Can you believe that? Worldwide? Are there really delivery vans carrying emergency supplies of Clairol through the snow to villages in Uzbekistan, or up the mountains in Peru?

Surely I can't be living in the only place where women's hair turns white. I know a lot who have acquired beautiful snowy tresses and are rightly proud of them.

Some of these hairdos are white and fluffy like dandelion clocks, and some are smooth and silvery like Steve Martin.

I would be blissfully happy with either of these options. My own chief worry is that if I hang around on this earth much longer, I'm going to look less like Steve Martin and more like Telly Savalas. (If you're too young to remember Telly Savalas, think Iain Duncan Smith.)

I don't look forward to that, but what the hell? I still have one great role model. If Mo Mowlam can get away with it, I can get away with it.

I remember using hair dye myself at one time, though like a lot of other popular pastimes I've enjoyed in my time, it's hard to remember why I did it. It was a bottle-in-the-bathroom job, and I hadn't thought of investing in a pair of rubber gloves. For the next two days I tried to keep my hands behind my back, because all my fingernails were ringed with black like a collier's eyes.

Just recently, half the people you see on TV have hair that's gone stripey, like Regency wallpaper. So far the stripes have been in various shades of tawny, but I bet they'll soon get more dazzling. Hairdressers will murmur, 'The zebra look is very popular this autumn, but with your colouring I'd recommend our Tiger Special. It's gold and black stripes with discreet touches of white.'

The only time my hair really worried me was 30 years ago when I was a celebrity on a whirlwind coast-to-coast tour of the United States, followed everywhere by a courier.

Her job was to ensure I didn't miss any planes or bunk out of any appointments. Since my perm had gone limp, I slept in rollers ready to face the breakfast show cameras.

One morning I leaned over the bath in the hotel bedroom and turned on the taps. Nothing came out, but water cascaded from overhead and soaked me. The courier flipped her lid! Did I imagine they were generously providing this trip for a client who would go on TV 'looking like a madwoman?' (No, sister, but you're not doing it out of generosity anyway.)

Next day I sprinted off and bought a wig. It was light, casual and wavy. I looked like a million dollars - or thought I did, and that's what matters.

If they ever ask me back, I'll buy one before I go - preferably a Tiger Special, in tasteful stripes of black and white and gold.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 9, 2004
Words:499
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