Before the advent of Hair Restoration Surgery back in the mid 1970′s. I promoted hair pieces for Paul Brendon Salon's in Manchester. One of my first clients a 65 year old gentleman called George provided me with what I can only describe as a 'profound experience'. An experience that impacted on my life and has continued to do ever since.
To those of us who worry about hair loss and thinning hair it makes interesting reading. So here's my recollection of the events that can only be described as a really 'moving experience':
George had total top scalp loss. He was 'clean' bald.
George's daughter Pauline was his spokeswomen. As Pauline explained, he wouldn't open his mouth. He had lost his speech. He either couldn't or wouldn't talk? That soon after he lost his hair, he stopped communicating with people, included her.
Part of my job was to take a template of the clients bald head. This was done by wrapping his top scalp with layers upon layers of 'cling film'. Then applying numerous layers of 'cellotape' onto the 'cling film' until it became stiff, forming the precise shape of the man's skull.
I then marked out George's proposed hairline on the template, explaining every move to George as I did but he didn't respond. He just sat there with in silence and expressionless.
Anyway, the template, along with a lock of George's hair was sent away for making-up. The process took about 6 weeks complete, ending with the final fitting at the salon.
I was there at the fitting but had to leave before the cutting and shaping of the new hair piece into the required style was completed. I left George in his daughter Pauline's capable hands.
His hair piece was the then 'latest' 'skin' type. It had a translucent, opaque plastic base and showed the wearers scalp when the hair was parted. The parting was so realistic, you couldn't tell is wasn't his real scalp.
The results were generally excellent, all down to final cutting and trimming. All done in-house at the salon.
One day, a few weeks later I was sat in the 'Paul Brendan' Salon having my hair cut. I was facing the mirror, with the mirror reflecting the very steep stairs down to the salon from street level (Peter St, Manchester)
As the hairdresser was styling my hair, my glance caught a guy running down the stairs in the reflection of the mirror. He was literally 'skipping' down what really were steep stairs. I remember thinking, I hope he doesn't reach such momentum that he couldn't stop, ending up crashing through the glass doors!
I hadn't followed his final movements for a couple of seconds as he was out of the mirror reflection and I had changed positions, with my neck bent forward as the cutter was cleaning my neck with a razor, so I was looking at the floor.
However, I recall being aware of someone standing next to my chair. First I saw his shoes. Brand new 'Hush Puppies', the coolest shoe of the late 60′s. Light brown suede no less!
Next, as I slowly unwound and stood up I caught the 'slimline' dark brown quality slacks, and finally,the beige coloured 'Crombie' type coat before finally reaching face level.
He was a pleasant looking guy with a beaming smile a man aged about 48/50 years old. He was immaculately dressed and looked 'the business'!
He thrust his hand out and I naturally responded and returned his powerful handshake. Solid and confident. His smile was more a grin. I didn't have clue who he was until he leaned his head closer. "Malcolm, It's George I Just wanted to say thank you Malcolm from Pauline and me for everything".
He then literally turned on his heels, opened the door, looked back, waived then took the stairs up to ground lever 2 steps at a time. All happening so quickly I didn't have time to respond.
I have to admit I was choked, I sat back down in the chair facing the mirror and fighting back the tears. I welled up and just sat dead still and silent for a few minutes, trying to contain my emotions.
When I finally composed myself I looked over at my hair dresses and she too had 'welled up'? Probably in sympathy with me? By the time I told her the whole story she was sobbing and I was consoling her? As the saying goes, 'you couldn't make it up'!
That situation had a profound effect of my understanding of the affect that male pattern baldness can have on someone's life. An extreme case for sure but it' 'blew me a way', if you'll forgive the Americanisation?
As I recall the event of that day, I can only conclude that it left me in a state of shock. I had witnessed an absolute swing from one extreme to the other.
Not a 'mood swing'? George wasn't going back. His whole identity had returned and he was articulate and confident. He was a 'winner' again and he felt good about himself.
From Hair Restoration to Life Restoration?
Worth writing about!