Scrambling over the wall and plopping down into the undergrowth on the other side; heart racing with equal parts terror and excitement, I set off on a tantalising adventure with my little band of accomplices.

I had had strict instructions from my mother never to climb that wall (high, and pretty dangerous for seven-year-old me to navigate). Had I been found out, I would no doubt have been placed under ‘mum’s house arrest’ for afternoons on end, forced to play games with my little brother (eeuw), tidy my room, or, a fate worse than death itself, write a painstaking letter to my far-flung grandparents.

A haunted house?

On this day, my scruffy tribe and I, still buzzing from our recent stunt of climbing over the safety railings to dangle ourselves into the stairwell three floors up (my heart lurches when I think of that now), had decided it was time to explore what we imagined to be the haunted house next door.

Finding our feet, we set off towards a derelict building among the trees. I recall a secret feeling of relief when we discovered that all the entrances were sealed up, and we wouldn’t be able to get inside. We jostled for position to peer through filthy windows and cracks, forms emerging and taking shape in the darkness inside. Something moved. Then, our frantic sprint back over the wall to safety, high-pitched squealing all the way.

Tribes for a phase

During my teenage years and I found myself a member of a new, slouchy, smart-alec tribe.

No longer identifiable by our grazed knees, but now by our hair flicks (which teenage girl didn’t long to be Farrah Fawcett in the 1970s?) platform shoes, wide bell-bottom jeans, and the obligatory bitten apple core pendant. This tribe was also wont to venture into places that were out-of-bounds; exploring and experimenting alarmingly with things that would have had the power to turn our mothers’ hair grey overnight. Quelle horreur!

Post hair flicks (mine, for the record, made me look nothing like Farrah) I have taken shelter with The Sparkly-Eyed Newly-Weds, The Bedraggled New Mums, and The Bewildered Divorcees… tribes for a phase; listening, encouraging, laughing, dancing, crying; handing out tissues and chocolate.

Today, at 58 years old, I find myself part of a fabulous, rebellious new tribe; a veritable global resistance movement of women of all ages.

Shameless hussies

This tribe’s mission is to challenge a notion, redefine a perception.

I bought into this idea myself, very early on, as I sat on the edge of the bath, watching my mum baste her hair with pungent dark brown tint, sensing her frustration when her hairline sparkled silver again. I knew as surely as if she had spelt it out for me: grey hair is to be avoided at all costs; it is dowdy, dull, and unattractive.

My new tribespeople and I flaunt our silver hair shamelessly, celebrating the unexpected streaks, colours, and hues that appear almost magically, feeling giddy with the sense of freedom that this shift has brought us.

We also know how to rock a red lip.

My mother would be horrified.

Created for Juice Magazine, in-flight Magazine for Mango Airlines – February 2020
Published by Mikateko Media
Featured photograph by Anthony Friend Photography