This morning, I finally succumbed.
I knew I eventually would, and that, when I did, it would mark the real end of middle age and the beginning of old.
For months, I have been watching the TV commercials on both sides of the Atlantic: gorgeous women with beatific smiles, promising a transformation with a little electronic device and “virtually no pain” (being a coward, that “virtually” was what had been holding me back) and, at £200, a bargain.
Yes, I bought a NoNo and, after breakfast, set about shaving my face that has turned into a fleece.
I’ve never had what one could call a bald face. From puberty, the black hair on my upper lip made me look like Hitler’s less attractive transsexual brother, and there has always been a touch of the orang-utan about me from the knees down.
But I managed to keep it under wraps, thanks to the hair remover Immac on my face and a Gillette double bladed razor on my legs. Men never noticed, because if I thought I was in with a chance, I always de-haired before leaving the house. Most of the time, my efforts were in vain; either the men never materialised, or they were too drunk to notice if they were sleeping with a yeti.
More hair started to appear in my late Forties and, in my early Fifties, I started to buy 10x magnifying mirrors just so that I could keep a careful eye on facial events. And I mean events. Suddenly, there were concerts of hairs competing for space and, on my chin, a particularly vicious black hair that rose from its pore like a Vesuvius of devastation.
Immac had, by now, changed its name to Veet. I’ve never really understood name changes on products. When the canine food Mister Dog changed its name to Cesar, they printed on the tin “previously known as Mr Dog”. If it hadn’t worked as Mr Dog, why remind consumers of the failure? I never ate another Opal Fruit when they became Star Bursts. And what was wrong with the word Marathon, before it was changed to Snickers, which sounded like a smelly shoe?
I just don’t know about Veet. I’m not at all sure it is as powerful as its predecessor, but maybe that’s a good thing. I recall a date I had with a TV comedian 20 years ago and decided to remove my Hitler disguise before dinner. It all but stripped my skin from the nose down. I tried everything to restructure the damage, but everything just made it worse. Eventually, donning at least 20 layers of foundation, I made it to Soho’s Red Fort restaurant, where I was indistinguishable from the Tandoori on my plate. He never called again.
The Veet stripper has done a pretty good job of de-fleecing my jawbone, and so I tried it all over my face. It was incredibly effective, even if I had to spend the day looking like a premature newborn. So I thought the NoNo might be the answer: a little contraption that promises to remove all unwanted hair, both for men and women. In addition to the “virtually no pain” (How much is “virtually”? I screamed at my TV screen), the price seemed ridiculous (“NoNoNoNoNoNo!”), especially as I could accumulate a lot of Superdrug points by stocking up on Veet, but I succumbed when I saw it at the reduced price of £170 in the British Airways magazine on a flight.
I knew not to start shaving after a few champagnes and wake up with no eyebrows and a Mohican, hence my breakfast appointment with my new toy.
I read the instructions very carefully. I knew it was working, they said, because there would be a smell of burning. Eh? I was prepared for the pain, but burning? After half an hour, I was rather enjoying it, until I realised I had the roller round the wrong way and the contraption had not actually been operating.
Then I started. And couldn’t stop. Staring into my ultra-magnifying mirror, I decided that never had so hairy a woman ever walked the face of the planet, and it all had to go. Roll up, roll down, roll across, figure of eight. Neck, cheeks, forehead, moustache, jaw . . . the NoNo slalom was never going to end. And what’s an eyebrow here or there.
My face is now as smooth as a baby’s bottom, and I am very pleased with the results, even if the smoke alarm battery needs replacing. The treatment has not, however, touched my moustache, and the black hair is proving as stubborn as Hitler, so it’s back to the supermarket to stock up on Veet.
At my age now, though, I’m almost beyond caring. The men who are interested are so short-sighted they won’t see it anyway, and the others are dead.
It’s what I call a NoNo Win situation.