Bamboo chairs, I feel, should be an essential furnishing to any space in which one wishes to write or think.
I am sat in such a chair, on the Dahab shore of the Red Sea. The salty water is lapping up against the red sands as the sun retreats below the horizon, the call to worship is sounded and the Ramadan fast is broken for the day.
It is warm and a warmer breeze is lifting strands of my freshly washed hair.
Though perhaps I should call them the ‘remaining strands’.
Today, I washed my hair for the first time in 12 days.
Before you mock, it’s quite an achievement. My personal best, until 30 minutes ago, was 5 days.
I feel I should point out it was my intention to push back my hair-maintenance boundaries, rather than my usual case of incurable laziness.
I had been sadly informed that the water in Cairo didn’t make for an overly Herbal-Essence-Mermaid-esque hair-washing experience. And honestly, what is the point of a shower if you don’t come out shimmering, tossing your wet hair, surprised that seabirds aren’t singing praises of your newfound cleanliness?
With my hair plaited into military-approved, tight and uniformed french plaits (Kim’s handiwork - not mine), I resolved almost immediately to keep them in place before arriving, 12 days later, at the Red Sea.
Aching, tired and blinking in the dazzling sunlight of the morning, we clambered out of the overnight bus into a taxi and within minutes swept up in a cloud of dust at The Coral Coast Hotel.
It was not long before I was in my bikini and marching (the whole 10 yards from hotel to beach) towards the water.
Unfortunately, there was no Baywatch-style running headfirst into the sea, but rather 5 minutes standing ankle deep in the water gingerly avoiding seaweed - a lifelong pet hate, and difficult, given I was on the edge of a coral reef - undoing the plaits that had served me so well for so long.
Having my hair up - almost along the same train of thought as dreadlocks - had made for much easier personal hygiene travelling through the deserts of Middle Egypt, but now it was time for some serious scalp rinsing.
The struggle - too long to be remotely poetic - did give me time to realise that it was the red hills of Saudi Arabia providing the backdrop to this beautiful view across the water. Then a majestic, voluminous barnet, redolent of the 90s, was released and wafted gently in the sea breeze.
Fannying about for a further few minutes, trying to locate an un-seaweeded patch of seabed on which to stand, finally, wonderfully, I bellyflopped in.
Cool water spread across my scalp and, for a while, I just lay on my back enjoying pretending to be a mermaid as my hair unfurled in the water. It was just fabulous.
But then I felt something move past my foot, and I hopped it out of the shallow waters with little grace and wobbly bits bouncing everywhere. Smooth.
On shore I regained some composure, and a towel, and returned to my hotel for a shower as a horrible thought dawned on me. If you’re meant to shed 100 hairs a day, and it’d been firmly held up for 12 days, how much hair was going to come out in the shower?
Well, I’ll show you.
Yes, I had liberated my own miniature coral reef into the shower.
I will not deny that I texted my hairdresser in a minor panic asking for advice. I’m paraphrasing, but she promptly replied: ‘Rinse it, condition it, and stop being a twat.’
So. Yes. My hair is free, clean and sitting on my shoulders. However, the time I’ve spent bashing this out, it’s been getting in my face & tangling up like a bastard.
I should imagine they’ll be back in plaits by the morning, smothered in lashings of conditioner.