Wednesday 3 March 2010

With A Song In My Heart & A Tong In My Hair

A chance comment on another blog reminded me of something...

...Back in 1962, when I was very young, and even shorter than I am now, a few significant things happened...

My beloved old grandfather died, and just a few weeks later, my beloved new brother was born.

My teachers that year were named Miss Flewitt [Miss Fly-By-Night, Dad called her!] and Mr Guilder.

Telstar was launched, and Marilyn Monroe died [I remember those events - but little other 'world news']

The 'Big Freeze' began in December, and lasted till March 1963 [oh I do remember that. It was so cold]

I remember that we had a car accident, and skidded into a ditch. A lady with a chauffeur in a fur coat [the lady, not the chauffeur] stopped to help us, and I had my first taste of real coffee from her vacuum flask. And apparently I asked her if the coat was mink [it was!]

But one song was popular that year, on the radio a lot, and it stuck in my little brain. I went round singing it all the time. I didn't realise the name would be so significant for me in later life!

But there was a brief spell during that year when I stopped singing...

waving dog I had dead straight hair, and my Mum lamented this fact to her hairdresser. The 'professional' said "Oh, Mrs Hall, if you just train it, it will wave by itself" [which sounded to me like teaching a pet dog to perform tricks]

Then the wretched woman sold Mum some amazing curling tongs like these.

The 'blades' were metal, the handles heat-resistant plastic.

tongs You had to leave the ends in the coal fire till they were hot - then wind your hair round them and the curls would 'set'.

It was barbaric!

I was a fidgetty little thing, and as I wriggled, inevitably the tongs touched my skin and I got burned.

After a couple of attempts to turn my straight locks into Shirley Temple ringlets, when I ended up weeping, with singed frizz and a blistered neck, Mum admitted defeat.

shirley temple

[on reflection, she was in the latter stages of a difficult pregnancy, and probably not thinking straight. But I did not understand that at the time]

NB that picture is Shirley, not me!

I suppose I should be grateful Mum never came across this ad...


What would Elf'n'Saty [as one of my pupils spelled it] say about those tongs now? A child would probably be taken into care and her parents fined for such cruelty.

Those were the days...


  1. To disguise my dead straight hair my mum used to put it up in a bun. My hair was pulled up, severely, to the very top of my head and then somehow wound round a thing not dis-similar to a ring doughnut. My hair was pulled very tight, there were lots of hair pins involved, and I HATED it, my head was so sore. From memory this happened most usually on Sundays, before I was packed off to sunday school at the local church, to give my mum some peace and quiet!

  2. That sounds horrific! I'm sure they would have been condemned immediately by the dreaded H and S.

  3. I was a curly locks and that song always makes me smiile, as my Dad was a Bobby and me and mum were always his girl and she used to sing it all the time.

  4. This post reminds me of an episode of the Waltons where the lady in the shop (name, name?) procures a hairdressing machine and Mummy Walton or Granny Walton or somebody gets their head singed? And goes about in a head scarf until it grows out. Which is what I always wanted to do when my mother got her hands on my very straight hair!


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