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Ah, Good morning Mrs Willoughby, good morning Theresa,’ crooned Miss Deborah.
The smell had not changed but the heat was less intense. Mrs Willoughby was caped and led away for her regular wash and set.
`Now Theresa, we had not decided on a set. I want you to look at this book and pick out any which you like.’
Miss Deborah handed Theresa a dog eared book which was at least forty years old.

Theresa opened it and glanced at the first section about short hair styles. In it each style had a name. The hair was cut short above the ears but the top was left long and curled into a bewildering array of different styles. Bambino and Will o’ the Wisp were two names. Not fancying any of them, on to the next section about medium hair styles. These had names like Jetsetter and Classique. In these the hair was less curly but swirled and teased into a halo that surrounded the head. Theresa found the styles ridiculous but saved her astonishment for the last section devoted to long hair. Here the hair had been piled on top of the head in gravity defying concoctions. Names such as Duchess or Countess were typical.
`Ah Theresa, having difficulty?’ Miss Deborah broke Theresa’s reverie. `Then let me pick one.’
Miss Deborah took the book and swiftly selected a style.
`I think this will look good on you,’ she said handing the book back.
She had selected a style called Temptress from the medium section. It was one of the less extreme styles but still gave a halo effect
`Shall we go with that?’
Not being able to counter Miss Deborah, Theresa gave her assent.
`Good, good lets get started then,’ Miss Deborah instructed.

Theresa was clad in a blue floral pattern nylon cape and led to the washing station. Her hair was washed and she was politely shown a chair. Soon a pretty young woman with a perky brown bob appeared. It was hard to say who was the most astonished.
`Hi, I’m Barbara. I was expecting a much older lady.’
`And I was expecting a Miss Deborah clone.’
They giggled.
`You’re having a perm and I’ve got your set diagram,’ Barbara said, `now we need to decide how tight a perm. I think either a blue which will give a tight wave or a red which will give a definite curl.’
Theresa’s first instinct as she was not normally adventurous was to go for the blue as the least curly but to her surprise she found herself saying,
`I’ll go red, I think I’ll be a curly girly.’

Barbara combed out and started to cut. Theresa was glad to see her hair go. She wished she had been more adventurous with her earlier haircut. A steady snipping and they got talking.
`You’re a lot younger than our normal clientele,’ Barbara said
`My Mother in law comes here; she thought a proper hairdo would sort me out. I’ve had a lot of split end and greasy hair problems. I’m not at all sure about the set but the perm ought to solve a few problems – you’re a lot younger than I expected.
`Oh, Miss Deborah is a good payer and looks after us, also the old biddies are very generous with their tips, and there is a big demand for a job here.’
Barbara cut and layered Theresa’s hair while they chatted. They found they got on well. The hair was cut just below ear level and then it was the next step. A trolley was wheeled close and an assistant handed Barbara each perm rod and tissue. Barbara wound on and locked home each rod starting at the nape and finishing at the forehead then each side was wound on with a yellow rod in some places. Barbara did not talk much as she was concentrating too much.
Suddenly Mrs Willoughby loomed over them with a gleaming head of newly set grey curls.
`I’m off to my meeting now, I’ll get the Miss Deborah to call when you’re done and I’ll pick you up,’ she boomed to the shop in general.
Barbara continued steadily with her work
`All done.’ now the next step as she proceeded to wrap a sausage of cotton wool around the rods and placed a shaped tray on Theresa’s nape to catch the drips. A plastic surcoat was wrapped around Theresa’s neck and Barbara applied the foul smelling lotion. A plastic cap was placed on her head then a device that looked like a Dr Who mindprobe but was a heat lamp was aimed at her head.
`We’ll leave you to braise gently for half an hour, I’ll get you some magazines and a drink,’ said Barbara.
She returned with a bundle of just out of date magazines and a coffee. Theresa started to read but the heat on her scalp got greater. She felt the rods tighten and tighten and felt sure her hair was being burned out of her scalp- she had read about horror perms! She half wanted to cry out but she felt that Barbara must know what she was doing. The heat got worse and worse and worse and Theresa started to fidget.
`They’ve forgotten, they’ve forgotten,’ she was close to panic now. She was going to cry out but she was too polite. Just when she could not endure more, Barbara reappeared and removed the heat lamp and cap and studied the hair. She unrolled a rod and announced,
`You’re done,’ as she removed the bundle of cotton wool.
Theresa was led to the washing station where lukewarm water partially put the fire out on her head. A fresh bundle of cotton wool was wrapped around her head.
`We need to get you neutralised now,’ explained Barbara
A fresh solution was put on and a fresh cap put on and Theresa was on her own again.
This time it was much more endurable. It ended when she was led to the washing station where the rods were at last removed. The hair was rinsed and Theresa enjoyed the sensation of just warm water trickle over her scalp. She arose and the apprentice carefully towel dried her hair before leading her back to the chair. Theresa looked at her shortish hair and she could see the definite curl in the wet hair. What am I going to look like when this is all over, she brooded.

Barbara reappeared with a fresh tray of rollers. These were far bigger than the perm rods and she proceeded to wrap Theresa’s top hair in them, the base of the sides and back were pincurled.
`I’m doing your set, I’ll give you a diagram when you leave. You will need to buy some rollers as you will need to sleep in them, also you’ll need a hairnet,’
`Great,’ thought Theresa, `I’m going to look quite the homely housewife.’
Barbara finished and soaked Theresa’s hair in setting lotion before wrapping a hairnet over the lot.
`Let’s get you to the dryers,’ as Theresa was led to a row of whirring domes. She was sat next to a rubenesque lady and the dome lowered and ignited. She was left to her magazines again. Five minutes in and an even larger lady was seated next to her. She was wedged in! She could not move without causing her neighbours to tut and cluck – one even asked her to move up! An unendurable quarter of hour ended when the rubenesque lady was moved and Theresa could at last move freely.

Five more minutes and it was Theresa’s turn to be done. Barbara escorted her back to the chair, peeled away the hairnet and gently removed the rollers. Theresa’s hair was now in huge curls.
`I’m going to comb you out, now,’ explained Barbara.
Barbara started at the back and Theresa could feel the vigorous combing. When Barbara moved to the top and sides Theresa began to get seriously alarmed again. Her hair was a total frizz. It looked like three birds nests had been carelessly thrust together. She had this time the courage to express her concern.
`Oh, don’t worry! I’ll need to brush it. It’ll be alright,’ soothed Barbara.
Just when hair could not get any worse, Barbara switched to a brush and rat tail comb and with rapidity Theresa’s hair came to resemble the picture in the setting book. The halo grew and expanded as each hair was coaxed into position. Barbara spent a few minutes with the rat tailed comb ensuring each hair was perfection and it was over.
`All over now,’ Barbara said `now you will need hairspray and I recommend this brand,’ as she showed Theresa the can, `it gives a very firm hold and does not leave the hair sticky.’
Using her hand to shield Theresa’s face she showered Theresa’s new halo with hairspray.
`There, what do you think,’ said Barbara as she held up a mirror so Theresa could view the back.
Privately Theresa hated it, it made her look haughty and arrogant as well as making her look far older, but of course she was far too polite and did not want to hurt her new friend’s feelings.
`It’s very nice, thank you so much.’
`Don’t forget your hair is permed so don’t wash it for three days,’ admonished Barbara.

Barbara helped Theresa up and removed the nylon cape and walked with her to the reception desk where Miss Deborah and Mrs Willoughby were chatting.
`Ah Theresa, my dear, you look absolutely stunning, it’s a vast improvement. Now the good news is that I’ve paid for your hair and given Barbara here a good tip and I’ve booked us both in for a week’s time. We’ll make it an event,’ Mrs Willoughby declaimed.
`My dear, you look simply divine. A transformation indeed from that scruffy creature that was here just a few days ago,’ Miss Deborah simpered and turning to Barbara said,
`You’ve done a truly marvellous job.’
Barbara blushed.
`Now here is the setting diagram and instructions what to buy and do to keep your hair immaculate,’ said Miss Deborah handing over an envelope.
Theresa thanked Miss Deborah and then Theresa turned to Barbara,
`Thank you so much and I hope to see you in a week’s time.’

They were out and Mrs Willoughby ensured Theresa bought the required items. Theresa hated it when the shop assistants were so servile to her. `Yes, Madam.’ `At once, Madam.’ It carried on at the cafĂ© where they had a coffee. While she was drinking her coffee, Theresa tested her new hair, she pressed her little finger on to it and she felt the hard shell of hair. She pressed harder and felt airy nothingness before her finger reached the scalp.

They picked the children up, the youngest was fast asleep but the eldest took one look at Theresa and burst into tears and was quite inconsolable for ten minutes. This of course made Theresa even more uneasy. Theresa dropped her M-i-L off.
`I’ll see you Friday as usual,’ Mrs Willoughby boomed.
Theresa arrived home; her eldest was still producing floods of tears every time she tried to pick him up. It was with some relief when he at last went to sleep.
She prepared that evenings meal and with a streak of devilment changed into her best navy blue polka dot dress and overdid her makeup. She wanted to be quite the Stepford wife for husband’s arrival home.

Her husband arrived home and Theresa was there to greet him,
`Good Evening Darling, did you have a good day at the Office?’
`Good Evening Mrs Willoughby Mk 2 because you look like my mother,’
Theresa enjoyed the rest of the evening as she nagged her husband just like his mother did.
`Sit up straight.’ `Take your feet off the table.’
Her husband laughed it off.
Preparation for bed took far longer for Theresa as she had to wind those confounded rollers in and put on the hairnet.

Next morning she fixed her hair, it wasn’t difficult to tease it back into place and lock it securely with a shower of hairspray. Her eldest still burst into floods of tears at the sight of her. That night she again donned rollers and hairnet. She felt that lovemaking lost some of its pleasure in a hairnet!

Friday came around and a visit to M-i-Ls, she was very careful with her hair but it had been three days since the set and it took ages to swirl it up into a halo before it was frozen in place with hairspray, she was really hating her hair now – it took ages to do and it made her look someone she wasn’t.. Mrs Willoughby beamed approval at her when she arrived.

That evening Theresa decided to wash her hair as the three days since the perm had passed. She washed and towel dried it, she was going to put rollers in and try and replicate the set but she noticed in her vanity how curly her hair was and she decided to fit the diffuser attachment to her hairdryer. She dried it to a super curly cap of curls that nicely framed her face and suited her perfectly. She ditched the rollers and hairnet and next morning found it took seconds to restore the curls to perfection but her eldest son still burst into oceans of tears at the sight of her!

The next two days saw Theresa really come to love her perm and how maintenance free and tidy it was – and to think that for years she had been so terrified to have one. It also made her stand out among the stereotyped poker straight tresses of her friends. The one grey cloud was Tuesdays shampoo and set

Tuesday came and Theresa was filled with a steely resolve. She would not be bullied; she would not be timid and accept what others decided. She loved her new curls and was going to keep them. She picked Mrs Willoughby up.
`What has happened to your lovely new hairdo, Theresa?’ Mrs Willoughby demanded somewhat aggressively.
`I much prefer my curls, they’re neat, they’re tidy and they suit me. I just really hated that set. It took ages to do and made me look someone I wasn’t.’ Theresa snapped back.
Mrs Willoughby had never heard Theresa speak like that and it was she who retreated. They dropped the children off and headed to Miss Deborah’s.

The same heat and smell awaited them.
`Good Morning Mrs Willoughby, Good Morning Theresa,’ greeted Miss Deborah. Mrs Willoughby was escorted for her wash and set.
`I see you have not kept up your gorgeous new look Theresa,’ admonished Miss Deborah.
`I know, I find I prefer my curls so much more and I so want to keep them.’ Theresa confidently replied.
Miss Deborah’s pale blue eyes stared intently at Theresa for several seconds.
`You know, my dear, you have a point, they certainly do suit you but they are so disorganised. I think we’ll stop the set and I’ll tell Barbara to organise those curls into something ladylike and practical.

Theresa was washed and then renewed acquaintance with Barbara.
`I hated that hairdo but I never thought I would love a perm so much, it’s so easy to take care of. I don’t know why I was that scared of getting one,’ explained Theresa.
`I didn’t think that hairdo it suited you either but I was only obeying orders,’ giggled Barbara as she wielded the hairdryer. Barbara brushed Theresa’s curls into organised rows.
`You will still need the hairspray,’ she giggled again as she doused Theresa’s hair. She had given Theresa a head of regular layered curls which looked ultra smart, she told Theresa how to get the same effect at home and Theresa arrived at the desk at the same time as Mrs Willoughby.
`Ah Theresa, you look nice,’
This was all Mrs Willoughby could say to admit she had been wrong. The two ladies still go to have their hair done every Tuesday morning.
Theresa was content; she had learned to stop worrying and to love her perm.

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