Yesterday, in the Scottish Poetry Library, a lady with a carrying voice and hair the colour of candyfloss was telling stories to a group of children. Both her hair and her voice, I discovered through close watching, were useful in commanding the children’s attention. The hair was a wig, of course, and the voice had that Joyce Grenfell quality about it, authoritative tones with a pinch of persuasion and a light dash of threat, ‘George, don’t do that!’ It was the type of voice I can’t imagine anyone maintaining for longer than an hour without having to gargle with salt and water. Like the children, I was fascinated by her hair: it gave her power, made her fun, filled her with lively optimism. Not that I was invited to, but the last thing I wanted to do was touch it. I recoiled at the thought of drawing my hand through her fine pink locks and coming away with a sticky palm, sugared nails and fingers that stuck to door handles.
Whilst pastel manes and curls coloured like packets of love heart have made a comeback, dying ones hair the colour of candyfloss (outside of pantomime dames and drag queens) is, as far as I can see, rare. I’ve spotted a Twenties bob the colour of early blooming lilac in spring; I’ve seen ponytails inspired by the palest pink cherry blossom in May; I’ve walked past curls as orange and irrepressible as dandelions on a poorly tended lawn; and I’ve even admired a shocking pink pixie crop-cut whose colour reminded me of a particular winter sunset behind Edinburgh Castle. But candyfloss pink has been shoved to the recesses of the hair salon’s colour cupboard. For who wants to nuzzle something that looks as though it might crystalize when it rains, or turn into a sugar biscuit when you stroke it? Anything the colour of candyfloss has too many associations with kiss-me-quick hats and a fumbled grope behind the coconut shy. Which is another thing: candyfloss is never shy, as my sample of one (my storyteller in the Poetry Library) has proven. Quite the opposite – she was garrulous, buoyant and assured beneath her pink fringe. So much so, that I began to change my mind.
Despite myself, I found I was warming to the notion of trying it myself. Perhaps, like that spare box of candles kept in the bottom left kitchen drawer, we all ought to shove one to the back of the sock drawer for a rainy day. Emergency candyfloss wig: to be donned when one needs to command attention and dredge forth a carrying voice. Maybe, without her pink hair, my storyteller was like Samson after he was barbered in his sleep. I didn’t see what she had under the wig, but lets say hers was gravy hair, the sludgy colour of sauce thickened with cheap granules, and when her real hair showed up her voice faltered, turned apologetic. From beneath brown hair she would bleat and plead, ‘Children, please listen to me.’
Could it be that candyfloss hair is, in fact, a superpower? A secret so secret that even those who know about it don’t even know they know it? That when the power of the wig is pointed out to pink-hair-lady (after she carefully places it upon the mannequin head on her dressing table, pats it tenderly and kisses it goodbye), she hunches her shoulders, stares and the grout between the floor tiles and squeaks, ‘I’ve never really noticed that I’m different when wearing my wig.’ But I have noticed. And the more I consider it, the more I think I’m onto something. Surely this is why the judiciary wear wigs – think of all the power it gives them! And if they were to eschew that moth-ball yellow colour they wear in favour of candyfloss pink, well, there would be no stopping them! It would be like that scene from the film Amadeus, when Mozart, in a heightened state of manic genius, conducts the orchestra wearing a pink wig, one that is undeniably candyfloss in colour. That’s decided then, I’m getting one.