Today I was wandering, as I often have to, on one of my self-serving errands, if you must know to the hairdresser. Not only was the day balmy, teasing between grumpy clouds and crayon-blue sky, but I was free to dispose of my time as I saw fit for the better part of some hours. So you see, Petunia, I was able to loiter with perfect right, at the base of a forested hill. Free to enjoy the empty street and drowsy houses, free to listen to the patch of dry forest hum its song of season's change. The trees were too far away to see me of course, and I don't think they marked my staring in any case as I am sure they were gazing across the narrow valley at the other patch of their brethren on the opposite slopes. I could not stay - my leash of time and commitments would not permit it. Such days should be enshrined in the vaults of memory. I should like to think that the half-understood songs would play again in my almost-dreams, those moments between sleep and somewhere else. So Petunia, even such a far off host has played its soothing song for me. What can this world be without trees?
Hairdressers are of course not without their skills. Indeed apart from keeping the Suschewalden citizens' locks tidy and attractively coloured, they hold the office of knowledge keepers. So, if anyone knows anything about anyone it's Florence Bowsflint, the owner of Hair-Lock the only hairdresser and barber in town. She cuts and colours the women's hair and her husband Reg looks after the men. The only person who has never visited her establishment is Mr Holtsmyer the florist. The fact that he has a cranium of thriving follicles only adds insult to injury as far as Florence is concerned. But he keeps his secrets and his hair studiously away from her salon, despite the coupons and cut-price vouchers she regularly slips into his mailbox or leaves on his counter. Each time, the little slips of paper reappear on her counter with a single seasonal flower. No note, no mention of them in conversation, just the single flower and the untouched vouchers. What perhaps annoys her the most is his apparent complete unconcern about the black mane he casually braids into a long cue which swings a confident pendulum across his back as he walks past her shop. Her fingers convulsively snip the big silver hairdressing scissors even as she returns his cheery wave through the front glass-window. She says people with secrets were not to be trusted.
Tea-drinker, writer and editor. Ecologist, environmental scientist, futurist and student of irony.