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THIS week's inspiration is Claire's Accessories, nationwide purveyors of all things girlie, glitzy and covetable. They also offer ear-piercing.

Body piercing of any sort makes me cringe.

I used to know a woman who, during the war, fell into enemy hands. Some sadist tore out her earrings, causing injuries beyond repair; even so, she reckoned she got off lightly, which was probably true.

Anyway, back to Claire's, also purveyors of hair things.

Since last autumn, I've been growing out a layer cut; I fancy a change, perhaps a flapper-style bob which, given my pure white streaks, could be either very chic or very skunk-like. We'll see.

Until my mid-teens, I could sit on my hair - an absolutely pointless talent.

Then it was cut to shoulder length and, because it's naturally wavy, I achieved the flicked-up ends coiffure of the day beloved of Christine Keeler, Mandy Rice Davies and Julie Christie without any help from rollers, back combing or hairspray.

Next, I went short and layered; got bored, grew it long again but, too old for plaits, had to resort to a chignon which persistently collapsed.

So, another shearing and, I must admit, teary eyes at the sight of my lustrous brunette tresses on the hairdresser's floor.

Then, I thought: why not have a perm?

It was disastrous - the world's worst and wildest Afro.

Still, my current 'Einstein plugged into the mains' look is only marginally better.

One telly shopping presenter has a striking, ultra-short boy crop, made even more striking by frequent colour changes - platinum with black; ginger, skewbald.

Last week, I hovered outside the barber's, wondering whether I should take that radical route.

Trouble is, this woman's about half my age with a razor-sharp jaw line and cutting cheekbones; lacking such crucial attributes, I changed my mind and went instead to Claire's.

Chains such as Claire's, Top Shop and New Look don't really cater for the grey pound, for oldies on a run of bad hair, nothing-to-wear days.

They want tweens, teens and twenties ogling their wares, like this kid who came in while I was there, her face lighting up as if she'd stumbled into Aladdin's Cave.

Watching her, I had an 'all my yesterday's moment', time-travelling back to the 1960s and the Woolies counter where I ruled on Saturdays, flogging similarly glitzy bits and bobs to similarly entranced youngsters.

After interminable prevarication, I let Claire's sell me a head wrap - Joan Collins sometimes sports one - to contain my unruly locks.

Stretchy crochet, a couple of inches wide, it cost pounds 1.50.

These days, that's peanuts but, once, the equivalent thirty bob would buy a dress or shoes, bags of groceries or several hundredweight of coal.

How times change.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 7, 2007
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