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Why I always sing along to David Crosby’s “Almost Cut My Hair”

A few weeks ago someone on the Internet accused me of engaging in the “politics of envy” and class warfare, and I began to wonder what would have happened if it’d been prepared to get a haircut. The second time.

It amuses me that I’m considered left wing by anyone. And it certainly amuses any genuine left wingers. I’m in my fifties, living in one of the most conservative, middle class areas in Melbourne. I own property, and, because most of my money is in Super, I really hope the share market does well. As for my resentment of private school funding coming from some sort of envy, well, I should point out that I did go to a private school – one of the more expensive ones. They made me cut my hair. Very short. I didn’t rebel. I was pleased that I was being given the opportunity. After all, back then, you had very little chance of succeeding at Year 12 unless you went to a private school. I wasn’t on a scholarship; my parents made sacrifices. My brothers were all older and had left school at the minimum age, but I was “academic” so I had a chance to go to University. So when the principal said he’d take me – on the condition that I cut my hair – I didn’t fight.

Of course, it was a bit of a culture shock. At my high school, we had one turf wicket on the oval. We juniors played on a concrete one just beside it; the turf was for “special” matches. At my new school, the practice wickets were turf. My old high school had just purchased a machine that could record television; my new school had three. Anything that was relevant was recorded and shown to students. Politicians spoke to us at assemblies.

Politics of envy? In the end, I felt that far too many of the people at the private school were living some sort of deprived existence. “I could never go out with someone who didn’t go to a private school,” someone once said to me, “They wouldn’t understand so much.” I smiled, of course, and went on drinking tea.

X will be retiring soon, and I think you’d make a good politician,” said a close relative when I was in my thirties, “but you’d have to cut your hair.” I smiled. “Why on earth would the National Party endorse me?” I asked, only to be told that my relative was on the selection committee and that there was no obvious candidate. “I’ve already cut my hair once,” I said.

A few weeks later, my relative told me that a family friend had been asked. And endorsed. So, I’d missed my chance.

The next week I cut my hair. It was covering my eyes – that seemed like a good reason to do it.

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