So me and my mum are on the phone discussing where Limerick is.
We are a typical Ulster family. Our knowledge of the geography of the Republic of Ireland is, umm, a tad sketchy. We know it's north of Cork. But everywhere is north of Cork, right?
Mum's just back from a day trip to Dublin. That's how this conversation started. I'm walking up and down the hall of the flat as we talk (1). For some reason daughter number one is walking behind me. I turn to face her while my mum tells me that she thinks Limerick is on the other side of the country from Dublin (2).
"Turn around," daughter number one tells me.
"Turn around." I turn around.
"I thought so. You're going a bit thin at the back."
Truth is, I already knew. Every time I go to the barber over the last year or so, when he holds up a mirror to show me the back of my head - after number two clippers round the back and side and a tidy up on top - I can spot a little lacuna of scalp amid the neatly trimmed hair. When I run my hands over the back of my head I can't feel it. But I know it's there.
I've been expecting it for ages. My dad's Teddy Boy locks had long begun to beat a retreat by the time he was my age.
My own follicular retreat has only just reached Cork. By the end of his life my dad's had reached Donegal.
Knowing this for years, I fantasised what would happen when the inevitable male pattern baldness asserted itself.
Never having actually been keen on my hair (3) I rather liked the idea of having an all-over buzzcut. A Grant Mitchell, they probably call it down south. No more product required. Because I'd tried them all - hairspray (very eighties), hair gel, hair mousse, hair wax. Anything that would give it some oomph.
At some point in my thirties I realised I didn't actually have to wait. So I went out and got that buzzcut. I loved it.
My head felt like whippet fur. Everyone else - my mum, J, every passing human being - thought it, or rather I, looked terrible. They probably thought I looked like Phil Mitchell. On a bad day (one of his serious drinking days, probably).
Increasingly I suppose I won't have a choice in how I style my locks. I can look forward to the tide going out and not coming back.
At which point I'll probably start worrying about the shape of my skull. Does my external occipital protuberance look big in this?
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