The Monday Extract on The Spinoff


An excerpt from Pip Desmond’s best-selling memoir about her mother’s descent into dementia.

I read about a hairdresser who had three customers pass away under the hairdryer; she took it as a compliment that they’d felt relaxed enough to do so. That could have been Mum. She had been going to David’s hair salon in Wadestown once a week since 1965, when our family shifted into the suburb. From Newtown, she continued to drive across the city every Thursday to let him wash and style her fine, straight hair into a bouffant, add colour when needed, then put her under a dryer with a cup of tea, her head covered with rollers.

She found a kindred spirit in David. The hour and a half she spent with him was her one concession to being pampered. He’d done her hair when her mother died, when her husband got sick, when her kids left home, for weddings and birthdays, Christmas and Easter, and just so she could face the world. The appointment had always been important to her. But now it was the high point of her week.

Until the Thursday that Kate discovered Mum had made an appointment with Ginny’s hairdresser, Amadeus, in Newtown, for the same time as her appointment with David.

Mum said David had rung to say he couldn’t fit her in any more and, while she was very put out after all these years, there were advantages in going somewhere local. This was true. Since Mum had lost her licence, it was a hassle to get her to David’s. But it was a fixed point in her unravelling life. We all agreed it was sacrosanct.

Read the fill extract here.