SARAH VINE: With women in charge, hair salons would be the first businesses to open
Citizens rejoice! The Government has decreed that from June 15, Britain will once again be a nation of shopkeepers.
Non-essential retail such as mobile phone shops and fashion stores (and car showrooms, which are allowed to open from next Monday) are to fling wide their doors to a grateful public who, it is hoped, will come flocking in their socially-distanced droves to worship at the temples of consumerism and restart our economy.
It is the beginning of the end of lockdown in a tangible sense (though not that tangible: the guidance also states that we are not supposed to touch any of the stuff unless we intend to buy).
But while it spells hope for thousands of businesses, I fear there may be a slight fly in the ointment. In a word: hairdressers.
While the beginning of the end of lockdown spells hope for thousands of businesses, I fear there may be a slight fly in the ointment. In a word: hairdressers, writes SARAH VINE
Yesterday, we heard they won’t open until July. July!
It has often been theorised during this crisis that had the Government put more women at the heart of decision-making, matters might have gone more smoothly.
I can now see clearly that this is the case. For who but a group of middle-aged men with excess nasal hair and bushy eyebrows would make such a daft error as to open up fashion before hair and beauty?
Really, it’s quite simple. Men buy clothes when they need them: new socks to replace those with holes in; new trousers when they lose (or gain) weight; a new jumper if the old one’s moth-eaten.
They tend to stick to the familiar and shop quickly and efficiently, with targeted precision. It is simply another task, like replacing a light bulb or going to the dump.
Women are different. We rarely shop for necessity if we can help it; we shop for pleasure. For us it is a form of escapist leisure activity, a way to slip out of our ordinary lives into a fantasy world where we might just be Kate Moss or Eva Longoria, if only we had the right dress.
For the same reason we read glossy magazines and subscribe to Instagram feeds featuring impossibly beautiful ‘influencers’ doing impossibly glamorous things. This transports us away from the kids and the bills and the fact that even though he says he’ll load the dishwasher, he never does it properly and you always have to do it again anyway.
And the thing about this non-essential shopping women do — which sustains so much of the fashion industry and retail in general — is that it is very dependent on mood and self-esteem.
If we leave the house feeling a million dollars, we’ll spend. Confidence breeds confidence: the more you like what you see in the mirror, the more you buy.
By contrast, if your roots are showing and your face looks like putty, everything looks bloody awful and it’s all pointless. So you dump the lot and head for the nearest cake shop instead.
It’s basic psychology. And it’s why hairdressers, beauty clinics and the other wellness services that power our self-esteem are so important to the overall retail landscape.
And never more so than now. Every woman I know is desperate to get her roots done or her split ends sorted. Others want a pamper, a decent pedicure, some waxing or a facial to blast away the cobwebs.
For who but a group of middle-aged men with excess nasal hair and bushy eyebrows would make such a daft error as to open up fashion before hair and beauty? writes SARAH VINE (stock image)
I long to get my eyebrows threaded and can’t face leaving the house in any meaningful way until they have been. Because, frankly, why get all dressed up in new clothes if you still look like you’ve lived in a hedge for three months?
In this crisis we have discovered entire sectors of previously undervalued workers who, it turns out, are worth their weight in gold. Hairdressers belong in that category, too, and there is no earthly reason, that I can tell, why they can’t reopen along with everything else.
Surely with appropriate PPE, a strict appointment system and lots of common sense, they can get back to work. And we can get back to saving the economy, one pointless purchase at a time.
The X factor for Papa Musk
I used to think Elon Musk was a mad genius. Now I realise he’s just mad. Having decided to name his baby with the singer Grimes X Æ A-12, the couple have changed it to X Æ A-Xii. Apparently because California doesn’t recognise numerals as names. Oh, right. That’s their objection.
Only in the Golden State.
I used to think Elon Musk was a mad genius. Now I realise he’s just mad, writes SARAH VINE
Cummings clan have feelings, too
On a deeply personal note, watching the very public focus on Dominic Cummings over the past few days has brought back vivid memories of finding myself — and my family — similarly under siege in the run-up to, and beyond, the EU referendum.
It’s no exaggeration to say the relentless hostility almost broke me, and there are times when it feels as if it may yet do so.
Whatever mistakes Cummings may have made, being the target of so much anger and negativity is a very difficult thing for a human being to bear — and he is, after all, human, despite what his detractors would have you believe.
It’s even harder for his wife and child, who arguably suffer twice, as targets themselves and seeing him hauled over the coals.
It makes me question why anyone would want to be in politics. Because, trust me, no amount of power or influence, real or perceived, is worth seeing your loved ones destroyed in this way.
Cummings’s wife (pictured) and child arguably suffer twice, as targets themselves and seeing him hauled over the coals, writes SARAH VINE
Having a pie or a fatty burger for lunch can apparently ruin your memory. I can’t remember the last time I ate either. Then again, perhaps that’s precisely the problem.
Ever since No7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum came out tops against far more costly face creams in a 2007 BBC Horizon programme, the launch of a new No7 cream — in this instance, Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex Night Concentrate (RRP £34) — has been met by the nation’s women with the same levels of excitement as the prospect of a date with Brad Pitt. This latest offering claims to be able to ‘reduce the appearance of wrinkles and restore skin tone lost with age and exposure to the sun’. Currently, there is a 100,000-strong waiting list. Let’s hope its restorative powers live up to the hype: by the time most of us get our hands on it, we’re going to need, at the very least, a double dose!
Furlough isn’t a free holiday
Speaking to friends of mine who run small businesses (a chiropractic clinic, a production company, a dog-walking service), a pattern is emerging. Staff who have been furloughed simply don’t want to return to work. Their rationale is that they can get 80 per cent of their salaries to sit in their gardens, get nice tans, play with their kids, make banana bread, do yoga and generally have a nice summer — and return in autumn when the scheme ends.
Don’t get me wrong, I can completely see the appeal of this idea. Trouble is, if everyone behaves that way, there won’t be anything to go back to. The furlough scheme was conceived as a vital lifeline for people during this deadly crisis — not an excuse to have an extended holiday at the expense of the taxpayer.
Staff who have been furloughed can get 80 per cent of their salaries to stay at home and do yoga (stock image)
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