Radio Waves by English Rose and Sean O'Hare
"And now we would like to take you over to Victoria with this morning's local news feature."
Damn. What is it with radio - you find some music you like and then they go and interrupt it with chatter. Luckily I'll be getting the car's CD player fixed tomorrow. Time to find another station.
"Hi Julian. Yes, today I'm in the Triangle shopping centre talking to Sue, the owner of Cutters hair salon. Hello Sue, I think you're planning a rather unusual day today."
"Hi Victoria. Thanks for visiting us today. Yes, a little unusual perhaps. In common with all the other shops in the centre we have a special adopted charity, for which we like to raise funds for throughout the year. This year we have decided to concentrate our efforts on raising money for the local hospital's baby and children's unit. They do such good work that we want to help and indeed we have in the past with cheap haircuts where we ask the customers to make a donation to the charity. But today's different. We need to raise much more and a local hair supply company has agreed to help. HairEx are based locally but supply human hair for hair extensions throughout the country. They have agreed to donate a sum of money for every ponytail cut today - an amount dependent on the length cut off. And we will of course style the hair after the big chop at no charge. So any women out there with long hair who would like to help these kids then come along to the Triangle today."
Phew! And I'm driving to work when who knows what may be happening! Wow, I would so much like to watch but I guess it'll all be happening inside the salon.
"Thanks Sue. Yes we're in the Triangle, using the small stage area just outside the salon. Please do come along to watch the brave girls, or anyone with long hair I guess! We are hoping you will come along today - and perhaps you will make a donation to help the models realise it is all in a good cause."
I'm sitting in a traffic jam. It's nearly 9am and I'm already going to be late for work and there's this happening not 30 minutes away! But still I can't imagine they'll get many takers.
"As you know, Victoria you allowed us to launch today's event on your programme last week and we sent out quite a few sponsorship forms. We were hoping that women with long hair could ask their family and friends to sponsor their cut - either a fixed donation or an amount dependent on the length cut or the length left. The word is quite a few of these forms have been completed and the generous women will be joining us a little later. Indeed there are rumours that some women have been sponsored to be clipped bald!"
"Bald! I find it difficult any woman with long hair will allow it to it to be cut so short, even bald? Would you really shave a woman bald."
"Oh yes, given this cause, I would be happy to."
Me too! And I would love to watch! Is this really happening? It's a good job the traffic isn't moving, because my mind is racing.
"OK. Well I think you're making Lorraine here a little nervous. Lorraine was walking though the centre 10 minutes ago. I explained what we were doing and with a little persuasion she has agreed to be the first client of the day. Hi Lorraine."
"Now I have been looking around whilst I am down here, doing an off-the-cuff poll and I reckon that there are quite a few long-haired ladies around - like Lorraine here - who could all help raise a lot of money." Victoria continued her commentary to the studio. "Yes, indeed, although recent fashions have seen much more shorter styles become popular, and they are so much easier to maintain for those too busy to cope with long hair."
"I know," said Victoria, "you should try to do outside broadcasts in all weathers, especially this early in the morning. It's a good job sometimes that I am on radio! So what do you have planned for Lorraine here?"
"I'll start by taking off the excess length, we need what we cut off to be as long as possible so we get a lot more money. Of course we have to bear in mind the style we will give the model, not everyone suits a really short cut."
"It seems as though you're going to be taking it pretty short to me. Sue has gathered Lorraine's hair into a ponytail at the back of her head. How are you feeling Lorraine?"
"Well. Er how much...."
"How much will it be worth? Ooh a few pounds I think don't you Sue?"
"Yes. Lorraine's hair is quite thick and never been coloured or permed. And at well over two feet long would take her at least 5 years to grow again."
"Really. As long as that? Well we better get started, Sue, before she changes her mind. Are you going to use those? Men's hairclippers?"
"Yes. They'll make short work of this lot!" I hear a couple of women laughing.
I hear a buzzing on the radio - almost like interference.
"There we are Lorraine. All done. Would you like a last look? OK Sue would you care to finish off." I hear the buzzing again. "Oh my are you shaving all of Lorraine's hair?"
"Oh no, just the nape. I'll then put a few layers through the top and she'll have a very short and sexy style."
"Great. How do you feel about that Lorraine?"
"I, er, don't know. I..."
"Great. Right we now have a mother and daughter on stage. Amanda and Janice. Hi there."
Still stuck in traffic. I had picked up my mobile and dialled, as I listened to Lorraine having her hair cut. The call was soon answered. "Hi, Good Morning, you're through to FM Bright and Early, what do you want to say?" I told her about the idea that had come into my head while listening and the offer I was prepared to make. "I see. That's extremely generous. We'll have to see I guess. Keep tuned in."
"Hello," I heard two voices say in unison.
"Janice. Your hair isn't that long is it, but Amanda has made an interesting offer I understand."
"Yes she has said she'll give half her pocket money to the children for 6 months if I get rid of my boring hairstyle."
"Well Janice. It looks rather nice. But we can't disappoint the children. Please take a seat. And Amanda - yours too."
"Mum! That wasn't part of the deal."
"Oh come along, it'll be fun. Besides long hair is old-fashioned for a young woman like you. Come on, sit next to me."
"Well, as you heard Amanda wasn't expecting to lose her hair also. Now they are both sitting next to each other, covered with a cape, with two of Sue's stylists about to start work. Sue what do have lined up for these two?"
"We thought the same style. What we call a chilli-bowl. It's a bobbed style cut high above the ears. And you can see Alan trimming Janice's shoulder-length bob into a shape now. Too short to be used by HairEx but of course we have her daughter's generous offer."
"Now with Amanda, as with Lorraine, we need to chop the bulk off first. We already have the hair in a ponytail."
"Mum. I'm not sure...."
"Oh don't be silly. Here let me...."
"Oh my, Janice has jumped up - her haircut hasn't finished yet - and taken Alan's scissors."
"Well I never. Most mothers are keen for their daughters to keep their hair long. But Janice has lifted Amanda's ponytail and has begun to cut. She's concentrating hard. Amanda's hair is remarkably thick."
"There Amanda. All chopped off. Now you can sit still while they finish styling our hair."
"While Alan and Sue are completing that... oh my, it's those clippers again. Don't know what it is about them but listening and watching them always makes me feel a little odd. Does anyone else have that feeling? You seem to be clipping shorter this time Sue." Victoria spoke constantly into the microphone.
"Yes that's right. We're not using a guard so that the nape is almost shaved, to contrast with the longer top lengths. Quite dramatic isn't it."
"Indeed it is. And I now hand you back to the studio for an important announcement, Julian..."
"Thank you Victoria, but don't go away, this might interest you.... we've just had a phone call into the studio from a listener who has a proposition, what's his idea Jo?"
"Well it is for Victoria actually, the listener has offered £1000 to the hospital if Victoria gets HER hair cut."
"What! My hair, but...."
"Well you said earlier that it was difficult to care for didn't you?" Jo teased her co-presenter
"I know, but... oh, this is a bit of a surprise. £1000?"
"Yep, that's right."
"Phew, that's hard for me to say no, given the sacrifices those before me have made. As long as it's not too short... OK, will someone take the mike?"
I arrive in front of the stage just as she sits down. Never having seen her before, my image of her was created solely from hearing her voice. I can see that she's tall, and a brunette, dark brown hair cascading down her back and the lights showing how glossy and well-kept it was, despite what she had said earlier.
"Well Sue, it looks as though I'm in your hands. I have to say I didn't expect this."
"Neither did I Victoria. But it's all in a good cause. Now hold still while I fasten this."
"Oh, that feels tight. Sue has just pulled all my hair into a ponytail."
I know, I can see it. Pulled tight at the back of the head, sticking out slightly and then cascading down in a wavy waterfall. The rest of the hair smoothed flat. She certainly looked nervous but was trying to hide it behind her professionalism.
"Er, you won't be cutting it as short as the others will you?"
"Need to maximise the length Victoria, more hair - more money!"
Bzzzzzzz! Victoria's eyes open wide. "Oh my, I never...."
"But I thought you liked the clippers Victoria? Now lean forward slightly while I take the tension."
I like the clippers too! Sue is pulling the ponytail and moving the clippers to the base of the ponytail, with a large smile on her face.
"Oh they're cold. Are you using a guard?"
And the hair is slowly severed as the teeth of the clippers begin to bite.
I could see Victoria was a little upset, but trying to hide it.
"There we are!" And Sue dropped the silky ponytail into her lap.
I watch as Sue then begins to expertly cut the hair that remains. It appears haphazard but then I realise that she is cutting textured layers, leaving some lengths longer than others. No words were spoken throughout this. I was mesmerised.
"There we are. Radio's very own Miss Posh Spice."
Indeed that was what the cut looked like, she looked even better now than she did with long hair.
"Now I'm just going to clipper the back and sides to even it out. OK?"
"Er, yes. Yes, OK."
The longer layers are pinned up and the clippers began to glide up the back, over the ears, virtually shaving the hair away.
"There, much better."
I watch Sue comb the hair out, applying a little gel to texturise the look. It looks stunning. £1000 might be expensive for a haircut, but hers was worth it! And it was in a good cause.
"Phew, thanks Sue. I'm, er, well in shock! Well, if I can go though with it I hope all you other listeners will too. Remember it is in a good cause."
"Taking my place in the chair now is Francesca, a brave lady as she is the first to have her head shaved. Are you really ready to be bald?"
"Yes, my friend's baby was saved by that hospital so I will be shaved for that hospital! Besides it all costs so much to keep straightened and looked after"
"I guess so. I hope you don't mind me saying but it is unusual for a black woman such as yourself to have such long hair. It reminds me of Diana Ross."
"And she can afford the upkeep! I want to be rid of it!."
"Well she has a big smile on her face, so, Sue, if you are ready?"
I watch Sue step forward with the clippers, turn them and place them on Francesca's forehead and drive them backwards.
"Oh my. Sue has a cut a path right through Francesca's hair."
"Unfortunately HairEx can't use this hair as it has been chemically treated but a few friends have sponsored her so it is worthwhile. Perhaps you would sponsor someone you know to have their hair cut or shaved?"
I watch Sue complete her work. Throughout Francesca has had a great big smile on her face. When finished there is a light stubble. Francesca reaches up. "Oh could you shave it all off please."
"Of course. Alan, could you?" The other stylist steps forward and spreads foam over her scalp and then, with a safety razor, begins to shave.
Finally he finishes and wipes away the remaining foam to leave a glossy scalp.
"Well Francesca, you look amazing. Doesn't she everyone?" The audience around me cheer and clap and I agree. She looks stunning.
So much so that I suddenly pipe up, "Another £1000 for Victoria to have the same!"
The crowd join in cheering for her to sit down again. Sue looks over to her and gestures to the chair. Back in the studio Julian speaks, "Well this is one of those moments when I wish I wasn't in radio. Knowing how much Victoria takes pride in her hair this surely is a generous thing for her to do, she has already had a lot of her brown hair cut off, this is a brave step for her to take only 2 weeks away from her wedding. Are you going to go for it Victoria?"
"Well Julian I've done a lot of things during my radio career, but never anything like this. I'm on the spot here. I'm on a national radio station and this is for a lot of money that is so desperately needed it's hard for me to say no."
"So it's a yes then?"
Before Julian can hear her answer the crowd release a big cheer, drowning her response. They take her step towards the chair as a sign of agreement and before she can speak again a cape is thrown around her.
"Okay, but not too much off please, Sue." She does her best to make herself heard, Sue nods. Satisfied she has been heard Victoria sits down.
"Okay I'll take it off," Sue whispers what she has heard to herself, "but I'll make it look special for you."
I watch Sue turn the clippers on and without further ado send them charging up the back of Victoria's head.
"Oh, Gosh!" Victoria shouted, causing those in the studio to wonder just what was going on.
Again the clippers rise and hair starts falling everywhere. I notice that Sue is being careful to leave some hair around the face - a sort of longish fringe. But not much else. The back of Victoria's head was now pure white scalp. Does she realise? I think not.
Finally the clippers are silent. A mirror is held up for Victoria to see the front. She nods, satisfied it has changed little from her previous short cut. All she is able to see is a long fringe - some is hanging down, the rest has been combed back over her head. Another mirror is held behind and she almost faints.
The rear mirror revealed the extent of the clippers' work Where there had been once long brown locks that were shortened there was now pale scalp. The whiteness loomed large, all Victoria could see was the bald back of her head.
"MMM.. My hair," she said. "What have you done?"
"I've taken it all off like you said, but thinking you would not want to be as bald as Francesca I have left you a fringe, which if you will allow I will plait for you."
By now Victoria was beginning to fully appreciate the extent of her surprise depilation. Her hands covered her head, seeking out hair, finding it only at the front of her head.
"Oh my God, I am bald!"
Back in the studio Julian tried to remain composed. "Well we'll leave Victoria to get used to her new style, it sounds radical but I'm sure she'll get used to it."
Meanwhile back at the Triangle Sue completed Victoria's style by swiftly plaiting the hair so it could lay on top of her head, lying on top of the faintest of brown stubble.
"She looks excellent," I thought to myself. "What a day, for £2000 I have seen a beautiful woman shaved bald, but leaving a bit at the front was extra special." and I walked away happy
Victoria meanwhile stood on the stage, her link to the studio finished. She wondered what to do, what could she do?
"I hope you like it!" Sue was so enthusiastic about it, Victoria wondered if Sue knew what she had done.
"Actually, I..." But before she could finish, Sue's arm was grabbed by her assistant and she was led away to the chair where another lady sat. Sue was handed the clippers and with a smile she turned them on.