I breezed into the hairdresser, the one I've been going to for 10 years, on a day the daffodils were nodding away in his window box. The last time I set foot in the place was on Christmas Eve and he'd been a model of well-worn charm, honed to perfection by the years he's been in Sloane Street. Now he had turned into a March hairdresser. Out of control.
The sun was shining into the salon, on to my tatty, chin-length bob, the one he's tended so conscientiously for so long. 'Springtime, time for a new look,' he announced, before I'd even settled into the chair. 'Shorter, more height, more weight on top, a bob is only worthwhile when it hangs just so' - that is, not like mine. Before I could say shampoo and blow dry, he was away, hacking off six inches.
I looked up once, shivering, from Harpers & Queen, to see my right ear totally exposed, and collapsed into helplessness. This was not a normal trip to the hairdresser.
'Don't worry,' he said, as I was leaving, shell-shocked, with my crop of inch-long fluff. 'Your hair will have two weeks of trauma and then it will settle down.' He advised bigger earrings and a brighter lipstick to balance the new look. So I bought both on my way home.
I returned feeling cold, despite the sunshine; but at least I had avoided being given chestnut lowlights. My 10- month-old baby was sitting in his high chair, eating toast. Instead of a smile and welcoming babble, he looked at me suspiciously, with mouth turned down. He wasn't sure who I was. I thought he was going to cry. I thought I might cry, too.
But then my older children broke off from their tea to stare up stonily: 'It doesn't suit you, you look younger,' they said - apparently there is nothing worse than a mother with a new glamorised image. This suddenly had an immensely cheering effect: I rushed off to try the new red lipstick.
My eldest daughter instantly grabbed a good opportunity - I had gone to the hairdresser because we all had to go to a party later that week. She informed me: 'I've got nothing to wear, only black leggings and Doc Martens or a kilt. I must have a new dress.'
So did my second daughter, who has refused to wear anything but blue jeans and sweaters for six months. So we all went to Marks & Spencer for new spring outfits. They eagerly chose floaty feminine cotton dresses with swingy skirts, and flapping ankle- length cardigans. I could hardly believe my eyes.
It was infectious. On the way out I took a detour through the adult rails and picked up a little crepe suit - madness really, the sleeves are too long, the skirt is too tight, the colour an insipid green, and I certainly didn't need it, but hell, it's spring.
Back home, my four-year- old, scenting a touch of spending in the air but excluded from the dress-buying spree, renewed her plea to go to Euro Disney (she had met point- blank refusals before). Feeling younger and irresponsible (by now I had my new earrings on) I crumbled, and said we'd go next month, as an early fifth birthday present.
The others were just gearing up to asking if they could string along, too, when the doorbell rang. The gardener who dug up the borders a year ago had returned to propose stage two: more planting, more expensive, but nice. In the golden sunlight, the sprouting lawn, daffodils and damson blossom framing the back garden only served to accentuate the bare soil, waiting to receive roses, clematis and delphiniums, and spring into fruitfulness.
'Another touch of blue would be so nice' - I added scabious to the list. Then we planned a mini-orchard and an archway for roses in the space currently reserved for bonfires. And a second big terracotta pot of flowers by the front door.
No wonder April is designated the cruel month. That's when the bills come home to roost. But right now I'm feeling quite heady after a month of March.Reuse content