hilst at school, the young Tony Blair was said to have enjoyed winding up his teachers by wearing his hair long, keeping it just millimetres within the regulations. Rather like how he used to run his government, some might say. Now, apparently liberated by lockdown, he has returned to his roots – or rather, let his roots return. The former prime minister now bears a striking resemblance to a Lord of the Rings character.
After a week spent discussing the minutiae of the prime minister’s interiors foibles (John Lewis is reportedly his personal nightmare, £30,000 a year is seemingly not enough to accommodate the particulars of his discerning tastes), the British people have now learnt that while one PM’s pandemic survival tactic was to let his renovation costs rack up, another’s was to let his hair down.
Appearing on ITV News to discuss Scottish independence ahead of next week’s Holyrood election, the architect of devolution claimed that an SNP win would not necessarily presage another Indy Ref. While this theory left some across the United Kingdom scratching their heads, for most people watching, it left them wondering why Blair hadn’t been scratching his – because if he had, then surely he would have noticed what was happening on top of it.
Within minutes Twitter was alight with quips about the barnet, from William Hartnell’s Doctor Who to Back to the Future’s doc and all mention of referenda, fabric swatches and rescue dogs spoiling overpriced furniture faded from view.
Grey, wavy and shoulder-grazing, Blair’s lengthy tresses were middle-parted and tucked behind the ear. Was there also a hint of grease to aid the swept-back aesthetic, or had product been applied? It certainly hadn’t seen a scrap of deep conditioner – though following a brief exchange with my hair stylist, I am reliably informed that grey tends naturally to err on the fly away side.
There was a lot to comb through. It sat, kissing the top of a crisp white shirt, which was worn with open neck elan underneath a navy suit and on his feet, trainers. The whole vibe cried out with an “I’m not a regular former PM, I’m a cool former PM” energy.
We can relate. With hair salons having been closed for months on end across the past year, many of us have struggled to maintain a modicum of hair decorum. In lockdown one, as our survivalist instincts took hold, we reached for the razors and embraced the buzzcut. By lockdown three, the inclement weather was a welcome relief, enabling hats to hide our disorderly barnets. One thing was for sure: while the pandemic laid bare global inequalities it brought us together in one unifying sweep of bad hair.
Tony Blair unveils mullet-style hair cut in latest interview
Bad hair was so uniting that previously-flawless celebrities shared their tricks for covering unwelcome greys in Instagram tutorials and we all discovered something we never knew about our co-workers: their natural hair colour. Boris Johnson used lockdown as another chance to hone his blustering buffoon persona. Rumours surrounded first minister Nicola Sturgeon – had she been getting bootleg jobs at home? Her do was simply too good.
But back to Blair. Was he talking about devolution or was he about to announce the next Live Aid concert? He infamously spent his years at St John’s College Oxford moonlighting as lead singer in his band Ugly Rumours. Was a comeback tour on the horizon? Sadly, his attempt at Mick Jagger landed a little too Peter Stringfellow for most. As viewers entirely disregarded his political input, we must wonder – are Blair’s locks the real Weapons of Mass Destruction? The distraction tactic is simply too devastating.
But now we must mention the select few renegades who approved of his new aesthetic: centrist dads and Boomers of a similar age who marvelled at his impressive mane. To them, he was the People’s Prince and his hair was his personal lockdown novel. “Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great Pandemic?” children of the future will ask. Blair was taking no chances – he wore his answer with pride.
For most, the question here is why Blair has not yet visited a salon, but rather, was his hair a cry for help and why had Cherie and his kids not staged an intervention? Or, was his band aesthetic a call for the return of Cool Britannia of the nineties, when the Union Jack was something to be proud of, a subtle nod to our United Kingdom, home of left-field fashion and right on politics?
Blair isn’t alone. At Sunday night’s Oscars, Brad Pitt rocked up on the red carpet sporting the tiniest ponytail recorded in history, and Blair’s business-in-the-front-party-in-the-back look was not a far cry from the mullets Miley Cyrus and Rihanna have recently been coveting.
Whatever it was, it was a clarion call for the value of Olaplex and a reminder that we can never return to the dark days of hairdressers being closed.