THE WAY THINGS ARE
Colette NiReamonn Ioannidou
Tribal and ethnic hairstyles are often fascinating. Hair has been humankind’s vanity accessory as far back as the Celtic warriors who starched their locks into scary stalagmite peaks to make them look more fearsome to their enemies. Elaborate and ludicrous wigs once bedecked aristocratic heads in the drawing rooms of Europe, and even today the old-fashioned wig tradition is carried on in the law courts in Britain.
When I was growing up hairstyles for men were rigorously governed either by the squeaky clean short back and sides or Brylcreamed pancakes fronted by a cow’s lick that gale force winds couldn’t shift. Time moves and with it male boldness in adopting styles their grandfathers or even fathers wouldn’t have dared carry on their heads. Now the Dothraki are here and they didn’t storm in riding magnificent steeds or yelling in their constructed language; they just are. I think there must be a secret wormhole from TV series land at the back of certain barbers’ shops that allows them quiet access to our little island and our time. Either that or some of our menfolk have been watching Game of Thrones and fancied the Dothraki wild and woolly look; it even sounds Greek.
The man-bun has been in evidence for a while, not dissimilar to that worn by Orthodox Greek priests. Now added to that we have the steel wool mode hair wafting stiffly in the breeze, or scraped back with little razored-out designs at the sides, and the beards… corkscrew curls and fancy filigree arrangements that would make a Venetian balcony look mundane by comparison. How long does it take them to fix ‘the look’ in the morning?
What makes men adopt this particular style? Perhaps they find by wearing the ‘Dothraki’ an inner dormant warrior self that their normal everyday lives don’t offer. Do they stand in front of their mirrors at night dreaming they are members of the clan associated with the beautiful, dragon-riding Daenerys Targaryen?
Then there’s the Vikings series in which lusty men write strange symbols all over their bodies and eye line their eyes. Maybe they were short of reading matter in those days and of a slow night when they were a tad weary of rape and pillage they sat around reading each other’s tats for fun.
Being a geriatric armchair warrior myself, I binge watched The Last Kingdom, Wessex by name, (which basically arrays some of the same characters on both sides as did the Vikings) in which the hunky lead warrior kept telling us at the start of each episode, ‘I am Uthred, son of Uthred.’ And it occurred to me that ye olde English were not unlike ye forever Greek Cypriots for recycling the same names generation after generation.
On one of Graham Norton’s shows, I watched famous Irish actor Colin Farrell, of whom I’m a great fan, tell the company how his son caused some consternation by saying that his father was blond. The man looks as Mediterranean as my half Cypriot son. It turned out Farrell was filming Alexander at the time and it’s the only movie I didn’t like him in. Farrell is a terrific actor, able to take on any part. For his roles, Farrell has half starved himself or fattened himself up like a Christmas turkey. Yet I don’t think he rode into the gym on Big Head, Alex’s wonderful charger, to heft weights before appearing as the Greek legendary conqueror. Compare Brad Pitt in Troy, all muscled up and macho, to the Irishman’s slender, graceful Alexander who didn’t look as though he was tough enough to pummel pitta dough let alone his foes. Watching Alexander in a cinema in Cyprus, surrounded by Cypriots was a weird experience for me. None of my female friends like action stories (all right blood and guts) preferring social dramas or romance (tie me to a chair) and I couldn’t find anyone to go with, so this person who wouldn’t hurt a clichéd fly but can watch such gory epics, set off alone. The film progressed and – lo and behold, Uthred, son of Uthred, several members of the cast it seemed to me, were yelling at each other in Irish accents. It was so strange to be Irish living among Greeks to see – and odder, to hear, Irish actors portraying their ancients.
In another film the title of which I can’t remember, I saw dishy Irish actor Ciaran Hinds in a minor role playing some ancient someone or other with glossy, high maintenance ringlets cascading from his head and his beard. He also played Mance in Game of Thrones in which both hair and face looked as though they hadn’t been washed in a year. Some folk just don’t care about hair. I can’t say the same for the Cypriot Dothrakis.