Monday, 3 April 2017

Getting Back my Grey

I have finally found a lovely hairdresser.  She totally understands my hair and my emotional screw-ups.

After trying to rescue my hair, it started to really break up so I went for a drastic chop.

Lucky I'm not bald...

I am still angry with myself that I dyed my hair, but I'm so happy that I have found a sympathetic snipper that thinks silver hair is lovely.  

My biggest challenge is a) the people that thought I'd finally 'seen sense' and dyed my awful silver out back to a 'normal' colour again and b) the boredom of growing out knackered, bleached straw to get my lovely, natural hair back.

I don't do well with  boredom.

But at least I've found a hair-dresser that gets it. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

How Fury Ruined my Har

If you read my last blog, you'll know I went through a great trauma last summer.  My darling bonkers mum selfishly threw herself downstairs (bloody attention seeker) and ended up a near vegetable for a few weeks.

I'd left my family in France and flew by myself to London.  I stayed by her bedside for three days preying she wouldn't die then I had to leave her and fly back to spend one last night in France before the long drive back home.  I didn't want to leave her, yet I desperately wanted to be with my husband and children, to get some normalcy back in my life.

The following weeks were so strange.  Me and my sister and my dad were thrown together for the first time in 20 years.  We were muddling along, trying to be kind with each other, but each of us under tremendous strain, not knowing if my mum would survive.  Stress, rage, guilt, frustration and travelling up to central London every other day didn't exactly help.  I came to loathe London.  It stank in the summer heat and in my altered state of sensory and emotional overload, London felt like a frightening place: filthy, noisy, dangerous, crowded.

The fourth week of her being in Intensive Care something flipped.  I was incredibly angry.  Furious.  Rageful.  But when you have young children who love their grandparent and are already wetting the bed and making up imaginary friends 'dying of a broken leg', what do you do?  Having a breakdown wasn't an option.

So, on a whim, I resorted to something I now realise was an old strategy from my teen years. Something I'd do when it all got too much.

I dyed my hair.

Rage hair
I think I subconsciously wanted to create some sort of message to the outside world.


The first immediate result was a fierce falling out with my dear 86 year old dad on Victoria Station, unearthing an argument pattern he and I haven't indulged in since I was at school.  It went like this.

Me:      I dyed my hair.
Dad:     So I see. [Rolls eyes].  It looks alright actually.
Me:      It'll wash out, but I'm just in the mood to experiment right now.  Doing all the reds.
Dad:     [Huffs] Why?! Your mum HATES all the reds!!
Me:      [At volume] She DOES NOT hate all the reds!  YOU hate all the reds!
Dad:     [Nostrils flaring]  She's ALWAYS hated you dying your hair!  You've ruined it!
Me:      [Hyperventilating] No Dad.  It's YOU that's always hated me dying my hair.  Well guess
            what?!  I'm 40 bloody 6 and you don't get to be the boss of me now! [Stomps off to get the
            train leaving furious elderly arthritic father to limp after.]

Yep, good work.  Like he really needed that when his wife of 50 year is in and out of a coma, having brain surgery and a drain for a collapsed lung.  But it did sort of release a lot of pent up tension for the both of us.  And he was right - I had ruined it.

I got bored with it almost immediately and tried to wash it out.  It faded but left a wishy-washy peach colour that wouldn't budge.  So I made mistake number two.  I used a chemical stripper on my hair.

It went lime green.  I wept.

The only thing I could do was cover it up, so I bought a horrible brown (brown!) semi permanent dye.  It was heart breaking.

Mud brown
I hated it, so I took more drastic action.  I bleached it.  Big. Mistake.  Although it initially looked more like my lovely silver hair, it soon became so dry it was like candy floss, then it started breaking off.

At least it wasn't brown
Now I'm back to square one.  My grey is slowly growing back.  I've had to have my hair chopped into a long bob and unless it doesn't start breaking again, I'll keep it that length until my silver has grown back.  Oh, how I miss it so!

But I've learnt a lesson.  Like an addict, two years clean, I fell off the wagon, lured into thinking that my old dying ways weren't that toxic, but of course, they are.  

I have help at hand though - all these years on from first ditching the dye, there are products to help you dye your hair silver and blend in the growth coming through.  See this Good advice from Schwarzkopf.  

I've used a couple of products I'm really happy with.  

Good range of shades
This was the first product I applied to my bleached hair and I immediately felt 'more myself'.  I was a little concerned at the chemical content, however, so I looked elsewhere.

Washes out 
This is an excellent product and completely brightens my hair.  I apply it once a week for about 45 minutes and it seems gentle and non drying.

As my natural colour is coming through, I remembered that I have a much darker streak at the front and underneath at the back.  I wanted to continue using the Bblonde but tint the bleached hair with a darker grey.  I found this:

Good range of colours
I use this just on the area at the front of my hair to blend in my steely grey streak.  It's like a creme conditioner and not drying in the least.

I have also finally found a lovely hair dresser who totally got what I'd done and how much I regret it.  She's going to 'go on the journey' with me, which is exciting in itself.

But this story doesn't have a bad ending.

My darling mum has made a miraculous full recovering!  In only a few months, she was back at home and getting stronger and stronger.  She's now back at her choir, flower arranging, helping readers at the local school and has taken up pilates!  How bonkers is that?!

Although I'm annoyed at myself for ruining my hair, every time I look at it, all I can think is SHE DIDN'T DIE.  And that helps to remind me - it is, at the end of the day, just hair...

Death - you can DO ONE!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

I ruined my hair - but I had a reason.

Confession: I ruined my precious silver hair in one impulsive moment, and you'll get it.  At least I hope you will.

I took my family plus my eldest son's girlfriend on holiday to Brittany in France last summer.

It was a six hour drive to Dinard, but we made light work of it and had a laugh in the VW we hired.

We headed straight to the beach the next morning.  These are photos from that morning in France - before it all went to crap.

I was sitting in my deckchair, toes dug into the warm sand, watching my two youngest sons digging a sandcastle, when I saw my eldest son's girlfriend running towards me up the beach with my mobile phone.

Turns out my mum had fallen head first down her steep stairs and sustained such a massive head injury she was being sent to Intensive Care at King's College Hospital, London.

People, ie, me, react in funny ways to this sort of news.  I wasn't immediately upset, but I was a bit cross - how dare she do this on my first day of my holiday??  We'd driven SIX HOURS to get there.  Until I really realised she might actually die.  First reality check: my Dad saying in his sweet scottish accent 'She won't wake up, Al'.  Second reality check: my husband Marc telling me 'Nurses say you need to get there fast, or you might not see her again'.

I couldn't get a flight until the next afternoon, so we took the family to St. Malo.  It's beautiful, but I'm not sure I'll ever go there again.  I wasn't in a rational state, although I thought I was..  Sometimes a photo speaks louder than words.  This was taken that day by my son's girlfriend, Georgia.  Sneaky pixie took it when I wasn't looking.

G suggested she took these pics of us together.  It was a bit of a disaster, but they made me laugh so much.  Each of those boys, unbeknown to me were in shock at their Grandma's terrible violent accident.

I'm not sure how I managed to get through that night before I flew back.  Local wine helped.  I'm not ashamed to say I prayed, alot.  Somehow, even though she wasn't conscious, I knew she was alive and that kept me going.

It get's worse.  I dyed my hair.  In my defense - I thought she would die!

And she didn't though, but my hair has died a thousand deaths since.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Coming Clean

I haven't been entirely honest with my GreyMatter readers over the last year.  I owe you all an explanation about a little scam I've had going - I hope you will forgive me for misleading you.

A few blog posts ago, I raised the alarm about a particularly nasty 'grey-hater'.  A rather snide, misogynistic fellow with a large beard, who hates his wife and doesn't have much to say about women in general.

In the post I re-tell how he offended my friend Midge, then wrote about it in his blog livingthedreamdfl.

Well, I have to confess - C.K. Blaine, the evil grey-hater, is in fact, me. Well - he's me in the the written sense and my husband (long suffering poor chap) in the pictures.

My very sporting, supportive husband - in an itchy, fake beard.

So - what on earth made me write a blog pretending to be a complete tosser?  Well Conrad (C.K.) Blaine is one of the main fictional characters in my new novel DOWN FROM LONDON.  I started blogging as him just as an experiment, to see how audiences might react to him (they hate him/love to hate him).  Very quickly, I was getting a lot of traffic through the blog and I have to confess it got a bit addictive!

My GreyMatter followers did a stirling job defending my lovely friend Midge (she was in on the whole thing) and I always felt a bit guilty about that, so towards the end of my time as C.K. I tried to redress the balance.  Here is his post in which he has a terrible experience when trying to dye the grey from his beard - MId-Life Meltdowns and Mentors.  So, you see, he has his comeuppance and eventually has some respect for those that chose to cut the dye.

We had enormous fun writing the blog and although I still haven't been forgiven for making him wear the beard, going out with my husband dressed as a hipster were some of the funniest outings we've ever had.  And the funniest thing of all?  Everybody - for a time at least - thought he was real. He's been quoted in newspapers and hotly debated and vilified on social media.  He made friends on Twitter - one lovely chap even wanted to take him for a beer. 

So, now you are all in on the joke, here are some pics of my husband 'bearding up' ready for another outing as C.K.Blaine.

And more disturbing still, several of my friends have told me that 'they would'.  This inflated the husband's ego somewhat until I pointed out that 'they wouldn't' if he was just being himself. Beards clearly have an intoxicating effect on women!

So, the book.  It's called Down From London and is set in my home town of Whitstable.  People who are 'down from London' got given the nickname of DFLs shortly after they began to visit in large numbers in the early 1990s.  The story is really about the tensions that still exist between locals and 'outsiders' - the mutual hostility, the misunderstanding and the huge class and cultural differences.  

Of course this isn't an isolated story of one town.  This happens everywhere, all over the world. Wherever there is a pretty, 'quaint' sea-side town within easy access of a city people will visit. Holiday-makers, tourists and urbanites will inevitably flock there, to escape city life, the heat, the poor air - whatever.  And in turn, this influx will inevitably change the character and dynamic of the town.  I hope people who read the book will see parallels in the places they may live too, whether they are stressed-out city dwellers desperate for some sea air, or long suffering coastal townspeople, fuming at the hoards of fancy-folk descending at the weekends.

So apologies for the deception - I hope you will enjoy Blaine's blog, now knowing it was me!  I hope also and that knowing my motivation behind the blog, you might want to check out my book.

It's available for Kindle and for Print On Demand on Amazon.  Please click the title below to take you through to my Amazon page.  


And if you live in the UK you can pop along to Whitable town and get the book in Harbour Books too! 

You can also check out the other things I'm up to on my website.  New blog coming soon.  Click AliDilnutt.

Thanks for your continued reading and support!  x

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Guest Silver Sister

I'm absolutely delighted to introduce my guest blogger, Sharon Tucker Rogers today.  We met some years ago, on-line, at the now infamous Cafe Gray and became 'real life' friends when a whole bunch of us Silver Vixens met for a posh nosh up in London one Christmas.  

I get to put my feet up for this post - while you are entertained by Sharon's no-nonsense, wicked take on her experiences at the hands of the Daily Mail. 



Sharon is third on the right.

"Who is that Backcombed Bitch?"

When Alison invited me to write a guest post for this blog I was delighted to have a platform to speak out from after seeing myself and my friends looking absolutely unrecognisable in a recent newspaper article.

I’m in this group shot, I’m in the middle, the one who looks like an over-inflated sex doll with a touch of Miss Piggy.  I sure as hell don’t look like me.


 It’s uncanny.

Five women, one of whom was me, were featured in the Daily Mail this week talking about how we have embraced our natural grey hair. I was a little reluctant to involve myself in this, firstly because my own political leanings are very different to those of this newspaper and also because I know that any of their articles featuring women attract a huge number of vitriolic comments online.  

Oh yes, there were comments, plenty of comments. But I could hardly be upset because I agreed with what the majority were saying. Last time I looked there were 675 comments. I read a few, agreed with the verdict of most, then stopped reading, but here are a few that are representative of the majority view:

Yes. Yes we do.

So why did the Daily Mail decide to represent us this way? Did they deliberately make us look old and frumpy?

Mrs. Frumpington-Smythe may have been an inspiration for them.

Or even…. Yes, the blue dresses, the stiff, matronly hair styles, maybe THIS was the style icon of choice!

Helen Mirren is a beautiful woman who looks bloody amazing in real life. Not quite so amazing when she was playing Queen Elizabeth II, all stiff and proper.

Ah, but maybe THIS is the Daily Mail’s true vision of womanhood. No coincidence, surely. Even the sofas are similar.

I really believed that some misogynist at the Daily Mail wanted us to look as dated and as unsexy as possible but having talked to a male friend about it I began to see things differently; whoever set this up really believes we look good. 

My friend’s husband is called Mick.  He suggested I may have missed the point and that there are men who really do like women to look like this. I bow to his greater knowledge on the subject of what some men find arousing. He opened my eyes to a whole world I knew nothing of, that of the strict school mistress fantasy. I’ve obviously led a very sheltered life. I didn’t even realise it was a thing. Where have I been these past 51 years?

Mick said I could quote him. This is what he said when I complained they’d made us look like ‘corporate bitches’.

“Not sure if they were aiming for corporate or the other C word. No, not that one; I meant cougar of course. Makeup, tight outfits, fuck-me shoes. I think you may be giving those morons too much credit. Think they missed the mark though, as one of your friends pointed out, your natural selves would have been a more appealing image.”

I expressed great surprise that any man could find us alluring in that group shot. I said I’d been too thick to realise that anyone could possible think we looked good to which he said:

“Ah, penny has dropped. Lots of Daily Heil readers are 70 plus so their idea of sexy is somewhat... ... trying to think of a good way of saying it, repressed maybe. Trust me, not understanding the true shallows of the male mind doesn't make you thick.  Blokes are quirky to say the least….I should point out that I can't speak for all men. Some of them have fascinations that I can't even begin to comprehend.”

That was unexpected. However, we did not appear in the article to titillate the inner school boys of certain men, we wanted to show women that they don’t have to dye their hair if they don’t want to, and that it can still look good. None of us feel that aim was achieved.

All the women featured in the Daily Mail shoot were already involved in the Naturalistas project. Vanessa Mills, who looks like a particularly prim lady from the 1960s in the Daily Mail images is herself a photographer and has been building a body of work that shows a very different picture women of our age who have embraced naturally grey hair. The following photographs show the difference between the Daily Mail’s styling and our own. All the photographs on the right hand side or below the Daily Mail photographs are by Vanessa and you can see more of her work here:  

Vanessa Mills as her real self, no bouffant! So much better.

Ros looks years older in the Daily Mail photograph than she does as her beautiful, natural self. She says she felt like a drag queen with that hair and makeup.

Denise looks beautiful in both these photographs and is not averse to a bit of glamour at times, (er, not this much though!) but I think she looks younger without over the top hair and make-up.

Rachel looks positively scary in that top photograph. There’s a definite look of strict school mistress. This is how she usually looks.

And this is me as myself, not dressed like some predatory cougar type woman which is how I look in the Daily Mail. Who the hell IS that back combed bitch?

I don’t regret doing the shoot, it was an interesting experience, I met lots of lovely people on the day of the shoot who were in no way responsible for how the Daily Mail chose to present us, they had a job to do and were themselves answerable to some disembodied person who was viewing the images remotely and saying yes or no, but it’s a shame that all five of us dislike how we looked in the final image.
Right - I’m off to embrace my inner Miss Piggy.  I didn’t even know I had one!

Sharon Tucker Rogers  

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Hair Nazi Nicky Clarke Bans Royal Greys

Hair Nazi Nicky Clarke Bans Royal Greys

Foppish English ex-Royal hairdresser, Nicky Clarke has recently been spouting off about The Duchess of Cambridge's grey re-growth.  The lovely royal abstained from using harmful dye - as recommended even by the manufacturers themselves, whilst pregnant and by doing so created a media storm of interest about her (SHOCK/HORROR) grey hair.  

Ginger, floppy haired Nicky, clearly bitter for being passed over as favoured hairdresser for the royals was reported as saying, 'Kate needs to get rid of her grey hair - it's not a good look.'

Now, please accept my apologies - I read this in the Daily Mail.  You must understand I only read this to know what the enemy are up to (and coz my Mum likes the cross word bit in the middle). But even I was shocked.  Obviously - if you look at him, me, or in fact Kate, could take him out with one headbutt of our hideous grey heads, but actually - WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS???

Well - let's see shall we...

He has the smallest Wikipedia entry ever...Nicky Clarke - that can't only be representative of the length of his scissors right?

He has the worst hair EVER.  Here he is through the ages.  Please enjoy as you stroke your hideous silver locks....

I''m a Lion, RAAA!

Hmm.  Maybe I shouldn't have slagged off the wife of the future King of England...

Eh up love, you look more like a bloke than I do.

Heavy.  And that's not just the beard.  Some serious fat camo going on here in the chin department.

Liking the medallion.  Englebert Humperkinck eat your heart out.

His chins came to the press conference to give him support.

Swedish porn star 


And so we see Nicky Clarke - no matter what his credentials 'doing' women's hair, is hardly in a position to comment on our lovely Kate's barnet.  He's like the worst of builders whose own house is a crumbling wreck, a complete eyesore that the local council and neighbours want torn down.  

So here is the offensive hair he talks about:

The Duchess of Cambridge 




A disgrace to our national identity!!

Letting down the whole of womankind!!

Except she isn't.  Here are some other choice things he (allegedly) said:

'Unfortunately, it's the case for women - all women - that until  you're really old, you can't be seen to have grey hairs.'

No?  Come and stop  me fop head.

'It's different for men, They can go grey and still be considered attractive.'

Well maybe - if they were attractive in the first place.  You don't stand a chance then CLARKE.

'Kate is such a style icon, even a few strands of grey would be a disaster.'

Bhopal was a disaster.  Chernobyl was a disaster.  Ebola was, and is a disaster.  A few strands of grey hair on the head of a woman in her 30s IS NOT A DISASTER!

Thank you Nicky Clarke, for reminding me exactly why I will never dye my hair again.  It's exactly because of 'men' like you.  :)