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Writings of Albert Morris
Article 3 - No hair peace on a wig and a prayer

I HAVE become friendly with a neighbourly King Charles spaniel. She obviously recognises one pure in thought, word and deed and therefore fit to be a dog lover. A small, affectionate creature, she reminds me of the days almost beyond even my recall when I was attached to another small, hairy bundle.

When the flying scud sweeps across Edinburgh’s skies, when the moon is a ghostly galleon, the wind keens around the traditional TV aerials and satellite dishes and rain drums a tattoo on the ancient mosaics of pavement chewing-gum, I summon up remembrances of things past and, invariably, the image appears of something resembling the hair of the dog that licked me - my long-departed wig.

Hark! Do you hear the windows rattling, chimney cans twirling their threnody to the gale and the slates crashing and see the sodden umbrellas being turned inside out to resemble broken bats’ wings? A bad hair day, you say. Listen: those who have never headed into the wind on the starboard or port tack or ran before the blast with a full head of artificial hair billowing like a spinnaker have never known the agonies of leaking self-confidence and the danger of running aground on the rock of social embarrassment.

I had a wig. Why should I deny it? Apart from my then-fashionable, clip-on tie, it was the only false thing about me and was made by an Edinburgh firm that specialised in such head adornments so that I could write about my experiences in the draughty city with a top-line, firmly-anchored toupee. It came with another hairpiece that, in a certain light, resembled a wombat’s sporran and was therefore rejected for my head out of hand.

The one I kept was small and discreet. Fitted onto my scalp with double-sided sticky tape, it was meant to remain in place even in the face of extreme meteorological disturbance. It looked essentially friendly except after immersion in a special cleaning fluid, when it resembled a half-drowned, hairy tarantula.

I was attracted to the little chap who went with me everywhere and kept my Miltonic mind cosy, and as I walked the wind-blown streets, friends would wink, give me a nudge that was as good as a nod and say, "it’s very good", or, "you would never know".

The former England cricket captain, Graham Gooch, is said to wear a high-tech, breathable, synthetic scalp with human hair interwoven with his own strands, an arrangement that would probably remain immovable even if Mr Gooch took a headstrong plunge down the Niagara Falls. My hair-mooring techniques were less certain.

I made a bijou wigwam for my friend - a cardboard box with air holes - and when about to be taken for "walkies", it looked as if it could leap onto my head and, after a few turns, settle down happily, untaped.

Tape was my undoing. The company big-wig said: "You should know the score with toupees. Always use new tape or you’ll be sorry ."

A busy chap like me, head full of nominative and adverbial clauses, has little time for hum-drumming headline maintenance. I often forgot to retape and merely gave my top dressing a friendly, fixing thump, moving off with a wig and a prayer and, thus, seldom had hair peace.

At Beaufort Scale force 6 (wigs soar, eyebrows rise) the little chap strained at its moorings and, at times, showed wave-like undulations, suggesting an area of intense cerebral activity. On other occasions - a favourite place was the city’s North Bridge - it would, like a cork from a champagne bottle, shoot from my head, chase traffic, snap at ankles or spread itself heraldically against lampposts.

Once, forgetting its presence, I plunged into the deep end of a public swimming pool. Bubbled screams spouted from nearby women and when I surfaced and looked round, I saw my detached wig, resembling a hirsute kipper, bobbing briskly towards the shallow end.

After a few months during which it displayed incipient wig-slip, indicating ambitions to become a beard, it was, in one of its madcap, aerial moments, run over by a bike and suffered terminal hair-line cracks.

I gave it a simple but dignified burial and although it is, perhaps, on some celestial wig-stand, it still sticks close to my affection and will forever dog my memory.

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