Career of Champions

“Mummy, I want to be a superhero when I’m older.”

“Do you? Which one?”

“Which one is the best?”

“Well, I think it’s probably Superman. Would you like to be Superman?”



“Why not?”

“Because Superman is Superman. I want to be my own superhero.”

“Well you have to have a magical power to be a superhero.”

“I don’t have one.”

(Thinking there may be a learning opportunity here) “Well maybe you could be an everyday hero instead, like a policeman or a firefighter, or a doctor.”

“Dr. Khan is a hero.”

“Yes, he is.”

“He makes sick children feel better.”

“That’s right.”

“I could be a doctor hero then.”

“That’s a good hero to be.”

“Yes. A doctor. (Long pause). Or a hairdresser.”

Not a hero in the traditional sense, I admit. However, there have been some days I’ve walked out of the salon and would be inclined to agree.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

As any woman will know, finding a decent hairdresser is like searching for a needle in a haystack; and when you find the one that can tame your curly/straight/long/short/thin/thick/flyaway hair you will move heaven and earth to keep them. I have short hair that requires a regular 6 week crop and colour to maintain its precision cut and keep away the wavy 80s Princess Diana/Farah Fawcett style it would otherwise morph into if left to its own devices. I am incredibly particular about who cuts my hair and insist that they gaze at old photos of me with longer locks and bad styling before they make the first incision in order to fully understand the horror that awaits if I do not keep it short and in tip top condition.

Princess Diana on a royal visit for the offici...

I am only ever eight weeks and some hair lacquer away from Princess Diana c.1987 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagine then, if you will, my dilemma when my hairdressers move away from Dubai nearly as often as my friends do.

In the time I have lived here I have had no less than eight hairdressers. The first time I needed a cut I went to a local salon in the Marina where we lived and he sheared the whole thing with a razor blade and refused to let me look in a mirror until he was finished. And the end result looked…well, like I had sheared my hair with a razor blade and no mirror. After that experience I timed my trips back to the UK often enough to ensure my old stylist could do my cut and colour and when it got too unruly inbetween times I stuck a scarf on my head. Eventually (and it must have been a good year or so later) I decided that commuting back to the UK for a haircut was a little ridiculous and decided to brave the salons of Dubai once more.

I found my next salon from recommendations on the forum of a local website. After a single false start involving a junior stylist and six weeks of sporting a mullet only a Premier League footballer could be proud of, I was booked with a more experienced hairdresser in the same salon who mastered my hair at almost the first cut. She lasted for precisely 8 months until she got pregnant, and as it was unplanned and she was unmarried she had to leave Dubai. Something the manager of the salon failed to inform me of until I arrived one day for my appointment. She offered to do the cut and colour for me instead, so I hesitantly agreed, laid back and thought of England. Literally, because when I looked in the mirror again that’s precisely where I wished I was so that I wouldn’t be staring at my PURPLE hair. Yes, this ‘highly experienced’ manager had managed to use so much toner on my dye job that she’d given me a blue rinse. I spent 2 months using special shampoo and an awful lot of product to try and hide my ultra violet fringe.

Are you keeping score? So far that’s a tally of five. Number six saw a radical rethink. No longer a big fan of trying yet another tinpot outfit in a random high rise on the Sheikh Zayed Road just because a few Jumeirah Janes had had their uniform pencil-straight highlighted long bobs trimmed there, I decided to go with the safe but expensive option and hit Tony and Guy. Amy, my stylist, strolled in looking hip and laid back, kicked off her Loubs before snipping and sculpting the funkiest hair I’d ever had. I finally felt like I’d found my hair mecca.

Of course, this isn’t the end of the story because – guess what – Amy decided that she was going back to London. I was seven months pregnant at the time, extremely hormonal and somewhat devastated. (I may have even cried about it but don’t tell anyone.) I stuck with Tony and Guy, but unfortunately due to circumstance the next hairdresser in line didn’t really stand a chance and she lasted a mere two cuts – one before my son was born and one soon after – before I was swallowed into the world of parenthood where six-weekly trips to the other side of town to sit in a chair and do nothing for two hours were nothing but a dream. I was on the hunt again, and this time my friend came to the rescue and gave me the number for her hairdresser who did home cuts.

Enter Luca. Luca was – is – perfect. Italian, male and straight he is exactly who every woman should want to do her hair. I have always had a theory actually, that the best hairdressers are straight men. Call me hideously politically incorrect, but I think a trip to the salon should be a bit like walking past a building site. I mean, you can pretend to ignore the comments but a bit of attention never hurt anyone, right? Anyway, back to the point. Luca has been my stylist now for three years, and has restyled and resculpted my hair to the point where I am barely recognisable from when he first clapped scissors on me. I absolutely love my hair these days. Love it. So when he announced last month he was leaving Dubai and I threatened to hunt him down, bunny boiler stylie, there is a good chance I meant it.

I feel like I’m being dumped, or worse still let down gently to spare my feelings. He has promised he is keeping on his clients in Dubai and will be back every four to eight weeks, but is this code speak for that throwaway classic ‘let’s stay friends’? Am I keeping a torch burning for him when really I should just find someone new? What if I make a date and he stands me up? Then I will be left desperate and alone, starting all over again with my caveman hair.

I really thought I would make it through to the end of my time here without having to search for yet another hairdresser but now I fear the worst. I am under no illusion that commuting back and forth to Dubai from the UK will be easy to do every month and I suspect the novelty will wear off sometime within the second six months he is gone. But, like all bad breakups, I can’t quite face the thought of moving on and finding someone new just yet. So like a fool, I will do what women have done for time immemorial: I will wait for my hairdresser’s call and if the inevitable happens and he resigns completely I will start the search for someone new and hope that I can find ‘the one’ all over again.

And if not I will be headed back to London SW13 to see if my stylist remembers me from 2006.