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Slick Rick

by Phil Thornton

My hair has always been a law unto itself. It's very fine and straight but I have a massive cow's lick on the fringe when it's grown long and tends to grow in an upwards tuft at one corrner instead of levelling itself off as the hair grows into a fringe. Not a problem once the hair is long enough to manage with a brush, comb or yer ma's Silvikrin but it always looks a c=nt when attempting to grow out a number one.

In the mid-80s, I happened, more by accident than design, to have one of Runcorn Old Town's foremost 'Damon Grant' style mullets and as my mate, Bernie (aka Cheeky Boy) 's bird at the time was a hairdresser, we went to her for various tonsorial embellishments, such as the now laughable but at the time cutting edge, 'back perm.' This only really worked if your mullet was long enough to cope with a loose perm applied the back of the hair, shortening it by a good few inches. The look was supposed to slinky and moist not frizzled and dry like a sun scorched frog's skin. Jeanette did mine very nicely and this was the look that remained around for about a year or so until 85 when either you got a crop in the Manc fashion or a slick back in the Cockney style. As it had taken me years to grow my hair long enough to cope with perming lotion, I kept my locks long until I finally relented some time in 86.

I went along to Cheeky Boys house and asked Jeanette to give me a trendy slick back. The origin of this particular style is lost somewhere in the annals of scally folklore - some say it first began as a uniquely Cockney style inspired by Gooners who had taken to wearing paisley shirts, diamante brooches and pegged 'wedding do' kecks accompanied by smooth gelled hairstyles - the evidence for this is largely to be found on 1985's 'Hooligan' doc where some of the younger ICF heads such as the ginger haired 'Mugs Really' character sported this style of dress whilst others were still rocking dangerously overgrown mullets and even wedges!

However, I think it was largely to do with the scally/student crossover whereby the previously ghettoised sportswear and indie uniforms mutated into a kind of hip-scally look that enabled young urchins to gain entry into previously out of bounds pubs, bars and clubs. Suedies replaced trainers, cord pegs and chinos replaced jeans and tucked in shirts, belts and even blazers and ties (!!!) replaced kagools and polo tops. The hair became a short, gelled, slick-back or was sometimes shaped into spikey clumps on the top. Some of the indie crew by us were the first to adopt this look and even began to find better kecks - those heavy woolen baggy efforts and baggy striped or patterned shirts (top button fastened) with Hush Puppies.

They looked boss I thought and so, before a family party I took the step of sporting my new slick back look in public. I'd just started seeing my now wife who'd never seen me without a long, shaggy headed pile of hair. As my locks were cut away I knew a disaster was happening but it was now too late. I felt like Samson, shorn of the source of his might, as I looked on in horror as the new shape of my head startled and appalled me. The back was very short and the fringe flopped forward making me appear like some traumatised, half-starved Warsaw ghetto child. Thankfully Jeanette had some extra strong gel which she plastered on as she combed the fringe back over the top of my head. This looked fine if you were say Ally McCoist or Rhett Butler but I looked more like Butler from off The Busses.

As I walked along Church Street en route to the Barley Mow for a pre-party drink, now armed with my new look; suedies, baggy woolen ('cushion cover kecks' as I christened them) and striped yellow and orange shirt with super-industrial strength gel (lathe grease) holding my coiffure rigidly in shape, we passed a group of young women. It was my bird and her mates. Oh no! She didn't even recognise me as we passed them, then when I turned round, they all burst out laughing, pointed at me like I was a circus freak before carrying on their way.....the opposite direction to where I was going, still giggling at the hilarity of it all. I had been utterly humiliated infront of my mates and her friends.

Even my so-called pals were highly amused by this embarassing episode. It was OK for Cheeky Boy; he had ace hair. We was the Marti Pellow of our crew whereas I was the skinny bass player. I'd only been seeing her for a few weeks and thought that, after this, it was all over. I wouldn't have blamed her in all honesty. Who'd want to be seen with someone who resembled an Edwardian Music Hall comic with a vitamin C deficiency?  20 odd years later and we're still together and whenever she begs me to grow my hair long to look a bit smarter, I remind her of this incident to which she usually replies, quite rightly "Get Over It, Slick Rick!"

Next month - growing a 'dougal' Acid House centre-part the hard way!              

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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