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Sunday 21 August 2022

Way to go, PB!

The "swanky" restaurant in Paris where the
Unsolicited Testmonial became physical

Purple hair isn't PB's only unusual attribute;
she is also part owner (a tiny part to be sure) of a
race horse, and is seen on TV (second from right) 

My elder daughter recently turned sixty. A few extra twists and turns in a life that has been all twists and turns and she could be retired like me. I find this strange.

Although presently impeccably respectable she has led a rackety working life. Cleaner at a recording studio then a police station, over a decade as a phlebotomist at the local hospital (hence her self-chosen blogonym – here on Tone Deaf – as Professional Bleeder), teacher’s assistant, then science teacher, now culinary technology specialist at a secondary school.

It isn’t then too surprising that, for reasons I won’t go into, her hair is artificially coloured light purple. And this has led her into the sparsely populated Land of the Unsolicited Testimonial.

It started locally among groups of teenage girls with whom, PB admits, she has little in common. “Love your hair,” they giggled. Often in droves. Same thing from a ticket collector at Kings Cross station in London.

Now it has spread to France, even that hive of sophistication, Paris, where PB broke her journey to our holiday villa. There she wandered, killing time. A young English couple took time off to pay the now familiar compliment. A young man of unknown origin struggled to do the same. At a “swanky” restaurant a waiter provided special attention.

On the return journey she opted for a very late lunch at the same restaurant and was told “It’s always time for lunch in France.” Then she was spotted by the waiter of a fortnight ago.

“You came back!” he said, in French.

“You remembered me,” she replied.

“You have purple hair,” he said.

On departure he kissed her on both cheeks, a French “first” for her.

To me, she admits, her French is improving.

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.

PS. I forgot. An ultra-chic Parisian woman said "quite a lot" (in French) about the hair. PB got muddled, saying she didn't speak French. "Yes you do," said the Parisienne


  1. I love that your daughter has purple hair. I've never dyed my hair, but if I were to... maybe I would dye it purple. I'm 70 years old, it's not too late!

    1. NewRobin13: I think you would also have to complete the equation by going to Paris alone with your new head colour. New NewRobin13, new location. One reason being that France and the USA (I have lived in both) are culturally polar opposites and I revel in these differences. I had to cross many unexpected frontiers in both, not least the linguistic ones.

  2. I've always wondered why you called her Professional Bleeder. Good story. I accepted a job as the administrative manager of the Romance (Languages and Literature) Studies Department at a university because when I was sitting in the main office waiting for my interview, I saw a French professor kiss a staff member on both cheeks. I was impressed.

    1. Colette: You may well have wondered why I call my younger daughter Occasional Speeder. In fact I didn't. She herself chose it for its shared assonance with Professional Bleeder. And for other more obvious reasons.

      Did you get that job? And if so, did being an admin manager on behalf of Romance languages expose you to the difficulties (and charms) of French? I took French at school, dropped it in favour of German, then - on returning from the USA in 1972 - I started taking, and paying for mano e mano tuition in French which only ended when my most recent teacher died a few years ago. Why did I do this? At the outset I couldn't have told you but as my French improved matters became clearer. Visitors to France who speak French (however badly) enter an entirely different world from those who remain monoglot. And when they reach what I regard as the ultimate goal - the ability to make French folk laugh - there's yet another, entirely elitist, world.

      Deciding who qualifies for a double kiss in France is - culturally - one of the hardest decisions a foreigner may ever have to make. I once made a huge booboo on this and it still makes me cringe.

  3. So that's why PB is PB!

    I take it that the boldness to have purple (purple or violet or lavender) hair equals speaking French! Or improves one's linguistic facility... May I say, despite the times, that men are famous for using the broad brush when it comes to color names. But you write poetry, so I shall assume that because you are a poet, you are a rare flower among your kind, and flat-out purple it is!

  4. Marly: It was the way different strata of society felt the need to address PB that was surprising. She herself is no blushing violet (other than hairwise) and all who approached her got good value responses. Her progress as a polyglot is probably attributable to her enormous self-confidence which she has effortlessly converted into a classroom asset. A necessary skill given her pupils are all Muslim. I've never considered myself a real poet, more a versifier. Of the 70 '- 80 attempts only two can be said to contain fragments of grace and originality.. . A reasonable ratio for a very late starter, I suppose.