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  You could have a big dipper   

only hair by John Gerard Fagan

like many Scottish boys growing up

my hero was the Swedish footballer Henrik Larsson

not only was he brilliant for Celtic, he had the best hair I’d ever seen

dreadlocks down to his shoulders

that’s what I wanted

so when I was 19 in Thailand and saw two wee ladies offering dreadlocks as one of their hair options I sat down and got them in

they had steel combs and it felt like my hair was being ripped from the skull

had to sleep face down as my scalp was raw

but home a few days later they looked magic

at my part-time job at the local hotel they looked at me with an eyebrow raised

I couldn’t work there with that hair style

so after some deliberation I took them out

but after six months of growing my hair I decided they could piss off

the dreadlocks were coming back with a vengeance

my mum did the back of my head

I did the front

thought I’d keep them till the summer and see

but I looked after them

kept them clean with non-fragrant shampoo and beeswax

they became part of my identity

I finally cut them all off 14 long years later while living in Tokyo

felt like I was losing a part of myself

but after a while I realised a change was long over due

Henrik was almost 50 and had short grey hair

it was only hair

only hair

I had attributed far too much to it

it didn’t define me

time to move on.


John Gerard Fagan is a Scottish writer and author of Fish Town. @JohnGerardFagan

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