If you're feeling under the weather, don't bother wasting your Saturday going to the hairdresser. You still have Monday morning to face your colleagues with the haircut from hell.

I'd put off the hair fear experience for as long as I could (I still have panic attacks when I remember some of my teenage coiffures). The trigger was a party, given by an old flame. He had casually let fall the fact his new girlfriend gets up at 6am to go to the gym.

Yikes. 6am. I hardly know such a time exists, let alone that gyms are open then. How can I possibly compete with a woman like that by tea time? The answer came: a miracle haircut that will make me look as good as if I'd spent hours on the treadmill. As Willy Russell's Educating Rita noted, there are always some stupid women who come in to a salon expecting to be transformed into Farrah Fawcett-Majors, and I'm one of them.

As soon as I get there I revise this hypothesis. From the first person who looks at my hair ("Ohhh it's in bad condition") to the person who washes it ("You've got very greasy hair") to the stylist ("You've got a very dry scalp"), I am a whimpering wreck. I feel a like a lone mother confronted by an aggressive social worker: "I'm sorry it's so unmanageable, I've found it so difficult to cope, it just won't do what I say," I cry. "Just give us another chance. I'm doing my best by it."

Amazingly enough, it turns out that there may be salvation for me if I remortgage the flat to purchase some shampoo which is De-Tox, Anti-Pollutant and Anti-Chlorine. Despite my scepticism it will apparently cure everything. Which is just as well, at that price.

After the bad cop (the stylist) they immediately send in the good cop - a colourist with the improbable name of Tarquin. "I've been looking at your hair and it's a beautiful colour here," he coos. "But you can see where it's grown out. The colour's all dead up here, and I could make you look so lovely."

Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, and why should I have fallen for this? But by this time I feel that any small glimmer of encouragement is well worth the astronomical figure he names to get my lowlights redone. I am a sucker.

Unsurprisingly, adding a fringe and a few layers does not make me miraculously thin, taller, beautiful or drop-dead gorgeous. In fact the only thing significantly lighter is my wallet. Later that evening I ponder that maybe the gym option is maybe the best. Monday morning I'll start. Oh, forget it, I'll go Tuesday.