The kid has magnificent hair, a great blond bouffe of it, a cloud of hair, an enviable mass. It's a scalpful of exuberance.
It gets in his eyes and he has to sweep it away whenever he tries to read something and I want to say to him, please don't cut it, however annoying it might get, however it might whip across your face or catch your cornea or simply irritate you, whatever you do, don't cut it, please, because it won't be long before you have to for some reason or other and then that will be that and you will not pass this way again.
But I don't say any of that, of course, because an old man urging a young man not to do something is the likeliest way to make him do it.
The kid wants to write and he's got some talent and I'm enjoying tutoring him but I'm also enjoying just seeing all that hair. The other day I caught sight of him in the street when it was windy and the hair was dancing.
It was like wild stuff tethered to his head, like the Gorgon's (or do I mean Medea's?) snakes, and of course my thoughts went back to when I too was 16 and the back row of our school photograph from 1974 or so was just a writhing sea of hair, of rapidly self-replicating keratin.
Rob Thorpe's hair was like curtains drawn across his face. Neil Withy's too. (Neil Withy got a job that Christmas delivering mail but he soon tired of humping heavy sacks of cards and he buried two of them deep in the woods but was caught and before they hauled him up in front of the grim-faced magistrate who liked nothing more than to lecture the young, Neil had his hair cut. That says what has to be said about long hair.)
The lounge bar of The Bull Inn at Ditchling, Sunday lunchtime, maybe 1975, and four or five of us marched in - Mark and Willy and Bob and me, and maybe, just maybe, Andy - and we were wearing cheesecloth shirts and jeans so flared you could have camped beneath them, and unlined skin and the grins that come with youth, but the landlord saw only the hair.
"Out," he bellowed from behind his bar, "out" he bellowed before he could so much as think, and he shooed us away to the delight of the fat old men at the bar with their lunchtime gin.
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"Long-haired louts," the landlord called us, "long-haired bloody louts," and though we were in truth a long way short of louts there was no denying the hair and nor would we have wanted to.
That landlord was famously crusty but he was also of his time. World War II was just 30 years gone and he and his mates hadn't pulled on the uniform and stood up to Jerry so that the long-haired should inherit the earth.
There, in his pub, so long as he had dominion over it, one scrap of the kingdom would remain uninfested by this threatening mass of youthful hair. This seditious hair. This idle and unruly hair. This rude and wrong hair. This unrestrained, offensive hair. Hair is Caliban. Hair is Pan. The devil is a hairy man. Get a haircut. Get a job.
My own hair was red. I never liked it. Ginger, they called me, Goldilocks. Nevertheless, I grew it to the shoulders like a Civil War royalist. But the hair I craved was black hair, African hair, hair that would grow into an enormous frizzy ball I could stick pens into. An afro they called it. I so wanted an afro. When I see one today I still yearn.
My mate Mark, who was of the pub party, was the handsome one among us. I've just realised that at 18 he looked remarkably like Prince William at the same age some 30 years later and, just as with William, the girls swooned. But unlike William he grew his hair.
Poor William never got the chance. His posh schooling forbade it. And then in his 20s William's hair caught a glimpse of his future as the Duke of Wherever, and it recoiled in horror, receded from his scalp like an outgoing tide and within a few short years poor William lost all his bright heart-throbbery and joined the line of bald and square-jawed Germans from which he sprang and that was that and evermore shall be so.
Grow that hair, son, let it blow. There's plenty of time to be bald.