Jan. 8: Indian Prime Ministers have expressed gratitude to the doctors who fixed their knee and heart by conferring the Padma honours on them. David Cameron has been pitchforked to the grateful club now, picking his hairdresser for the MBE (member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).
Lino Carbosiero, the British Prime Minister’s hairdresser, has vehemently snipped suggestions that the honour had anything to do with hiding an apparent bald spot on Cameron’s pate.
Carbosiero is hurt by accusations that he got his MBE only for being Cameron’s hairdresser. Cameron’s official spokesperson has also said: “There is an independent process for decisions around honours.”
The hairdresser, who charges £90 (Rs 9,200) for a man’s cut, said: “The negativity saddens me because it’s all about, ‘Why should a hairdresser get it?’”
He said he believed that the honour reflected his charity activity and his work campaigning for the state registration of hairdressers. “It shows that people are recognising that hairdressers aren’t just fluffy and stand behind the chair and talk nonsense all day. We do a lot behind the scenes as well.”
Carbosiero’s sentiment gels perfectly with that of a hair stylist in Calcutta. Bridgette Jones, the city-based hair and beauty expert, said in response to a question: “I love the idea of a Padma for hairdressers. Our awards should celebrate creativity and fresh talent and no matter which field you are in — hairdressing or sports — if you’re doing creative work, you should get credit for it.”
Like Carbosiero, Jones also points out that hairdressers do much more than stand behind chairs and gossip. “Hairdressers do put in much thought and create different looks, colours, change images. So, why not a Padma for a deserving one? I don’t think it will be ill received in our city,” Jones said.
A country whose honours list boasts a hotelier is unlikely to be petty-minded about widening the list. With January 26, on the eve of which the Padma awards are announced, more than a fortnight away, there is time yet to revise the list.
The Padma list-makers can consider another talent, too. Displaying impeccable timing that made her a rage on the dance floor, Malaika Arora Khan has said the Khan brothers — Arbaaz, Sohail and Salman — have the talent of producing handsome kids. “They have the talent of producing handsome kids. Except Salman.… whenever he gets married ...it (kid) will be handsome,” PTI quoted Malaika, married to actor-producer Arbaaz, as saying. The couple have a son.
Malaika was not speaking out of context but fielding questions on a show she is judging, India’s Got Talent.
The Padma list-makers have also shown a sense of timing that cannot be faulted. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee underwent knee surgery at Breach Candy Hospital in 2000. Dr. Chittaranjan Ranawat, who conducted the surgery, was awarded the Padma Bhushan in medicine the next year.
Similarly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underwent a coronary bypass surgery at AIIMS in 2009. Dr. Ramakant Panda, the specialist who led the surgery, was awarded the Padma Bhushan in medicine in 2010.
As the Padma list-makers take a decision, back to Cameron’s stylist.
To critics who style him as a Cameron crony, Carbosiero has a ready rebuttal: his client list. If Carbosiero is a Cameron crony, he may also face charges of being a Kylie Minogue crony and a Dustin Hoffman crony as he has snipped and styled for all of them.
On Tuesday, when thanks to his MBE, he faced the sort of media scrutiny usually reserved for bankers, Carbosiero proved that whatever his levels of cronyism, he is intensely loyal.
Despite seemingly strong evidence to the contrary, he swore that Cameron did not have a bald spot. The thinning state of the Prime Minister’s mane became the subject of much speculation last year when the House of Commons TV cameras appeared to show Cameron indulging in some creative comb-work to hide a growing bald spot.
Carbosiero said: “He hasn’t got a bald spot... He’s got great hair.”
Such was Carbosiero’s determination to scotch any talk of baldness that he even took time to demonstrate to a reporter how a false impression of baldness can be given.
“If I parted your hair like that, and if someone photographed it, you would look like you’re going bald,” he told the journalist.
Carbosiero, 49, also tried to shed light on the other great tonsorial debate concerning the Prime Minister — what was behind his decision, in 2007, to change his parting from the right side to the left?
The switch prompted such a furore that his official spokesman felt obliged to deny that there was any political motivation behind the change.
According to Carbosiero, it was all because he couldn’t remember which side Cameron parted his hair. “Anybody that knows me knows that I never remember where the parting goes…. I just go with where — at the time — I think the hair wants to go. It just happened. There was no thought behind it.”
If Carbosiero carries such attitude to India, he will be playing with fire. Most men in India have strong views on which side their parting should be and are unlikely to brook a cavalier attitude.
However, the confusion on Cameron may be because it was not Carbosiero who changed the parting. Reports at the time said it was the work of Tony Tahir of the Hair and Tanning Rooms in North Kensington, London.
When the Prime Minister shifted his side parting from right to left in 2007, some claimed that he was attempting to look more “butch” (masculine).