by Murray Ewing
Meddie had fantastic hair
It floated snakily on the air
A slow-motion sculpture of waves and curls
The envy of all the other girls
Minty (whose hair was short and plain
And frizzed at the slightest hint of rain)
Said it was all just so much fuss
“It’s only hair,” she said to Tim on the bus
She fancied Tim. She thought he liked her, too
They often found themselves together in the queue
But his eyes went funny when he saw Meddie’s hair
And Minty thought the whole thing just so unfair
Minty was chatting, one day at the bank
To Minnie (whose hair was long but lank)
When Meddie walked by, trailing twirling strands
Like some beautiful hair goddess from a far-off land
“It’s not right,” Minnie said. “It just can’t be real.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Minty. “Don’t you feel
“There’s something supernatural, almost evil, about it?
“Something witchy and hexish in the way that she flouts it?
“The way it fascinates and slyly enchants
“You want to look away from it, but you can’t.
“It’s eerie, it’s weird, uncanny and fey.”
Minnie said, “I was thinking more, extensions and hairspray.”
But Minty’s eyes were fixed on Meddie’s wavy halo
She hadn’t known she felt it till she heard herself say so
But surely, there was some necromancy or glamour
Made Meddie’s hair fantastic (and forced Tim to fancy her)
She vowed then and there to learn Meddie’s secret
There was no way on Earth she could possibly keep it
From a girl so determined, and driven by the despair
Of a lifetime consigned to second-class hair
She followed her quarry each lunchtime for days
Round Boots, M&S, and what had once been Safeways
But was, shall we say, more than moderately riled
Each time Meddie bypassed the hair-care aisle.
Her obsession only deepened. She took to spending nights
Outside Meddie’s flat, watching till the lights
Were turned off and her quarry (so she presumed) went to bed.
She learned nothing to do with hair, or other matters of the head.
She spoke to a guy at the office, who
(She’d heard) had been on a date or two
With Meddie. His name was Tom.
Apparently, they hadn’t got along.
She quizzed hairdressers and salon-staff
With a growing collection of photographs
Of Meddie’s hair, from all angles, by all lights
(There were even infrared ones, taken at night)
She consulted rare volumes in restricted sections
And worm-eaten books in occultists’ collections
The Glamorous Grimoire, The Scissors of Solomon
De Hairis Mysteriis, The Trichonomicon
No answers. No answers. No answers anywhere.
What was the secret of Meddie’s great hair?
The more Minty learned, the less she felt she knew
Finally, there was only one thing to do
“Meddie?” “Yes, Minty?” “Can we have a word in private?”
“The ladies’ loo in a minute or two?” said Meddie, twirling a ringlet
So Minty popped to the ladies’ lav and eyed herself in the mirror.
This was it. Have courage, girl! It was now or it was never.
Meddie sashayed in, a minute or so later
All slinky-limbed and snaky-locked, and fragrant as a flower
She stood there, primping herself that little bit closer to perfection
And the girls regarded one another, reflection to reflection
Meddie opened her handbag and began to lay out makeup
As if, caked though she already was, she was going to do her face up
“If you have a question, Minty dear, I’d go ahead and ask it.
“But I think you want to know what makes my hair so fantastic?”
So close, at last, to Meddie’s hair
Minty at first could only stare
Then gape, then gawp, then drop-jawed goggle
Her eyes went wide and her brain went boggled
It was moving! It was hissing!
Each fork-tongued strand was kissing
The air — and Minty’s ear — with a lisping, sibilant sigh
Meddie raised an eyebrow, but Minty had gone dry
“I’ll show you my secret, Minty dear. It isn’t just my hair.
“Fix your eyes on the mirror, and just keep standing there.”
Meddie took some tissues and began to wipe away her face
Minty’s eyes went wider still and her heart began to race
“Don’t look at me directly,” Meddie said when she was done —
When the makeup, and the glamour, and the human face were gone —
“I really doubt the boss would like it if the ladies’ loo
“Was decorated, however prettily, with a life-size statue.”
“You’re—” Minty said, then choked, so Meddie said, “I am.
“Stheno, Euryale and I are sort of on the lam.
“We got fed up being mythical. Being bossed around by Zeus.
“Cooped up on Mount Olympus — really, what’s the use?
“Nobody has a need for gods or monsters nowadays.
“Humankind’s having plenty of fun without us anyway.
“I thought I’d join in. Get a job. Just be one of the girls.
“Thing is, there’s only so much I can do about these curls.
“I can hide my face with makeup. I can reduce the power of my glare
“(I wear these special contact lenses). But the trouble is, my hair.
“I can’t conceal or contain it. It has a mind all of its own.
“Whatever I do, people notice it, and won’t leave me alone.
“Yes, it looks fantastic. But that is just my nature.
“I’m a thing of fantasy. A monstrous, mythical creature.”
She sighed. “So there you go. My secret is laid bare.”
She snapped her compact shut and calmed her hissing hair
As Meddie repaired her makeup, Minty felt the need to explain.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I really am, for being such a pain.
“I wouldn’t normally act like this, or make so much of a fuss,
“It’s only because of this boy Tim, who I sit with on the bus…”
Meddie smiled at Minty. “No need to worry about me, then.
“I’ve tried them, but I have to say, I’m not into mortal men.
“So ask this Tim out. You’ll be surprised. It’s not just looks that count.
“Besides, if there’s anyone you should worry about, it’s the Sirens in Accounts.”