WARNING! Potentially long post forthcoming Are you sitting comfortably... I'd like to relay a conversation I had with an ex partner of mine on the subject of dreadlocks: My ex (of considerable time back) had the most beautiful head of dreadlocks. To my young mind they were dreadlock perfection (if, with hindsight, a little worked upon). It was probably the thing above all else that attracted me to him in the first place (shallow perhaps, but I'm a sucker for a nice set of locks). I don't see this man often now (being that he lives several hundred miles away), but he does ring regularly to speak to his son. It was during one of these phone calls recently that I decided to ask him how he got his dreads, how he cared for them, how long they took to reach maturity etc, and to take the opportunity to announce that I too was now in 'the knotty way'. The answer he gave me was not quite what I was expecting. My ex dreaded his hair around 1991-2 and he kept his locks for around 8 years before finally growing tired of them and shaving them off. By this time they reached the small of his back and were looking mighty fine. I met my ex around 1995, and by this time his dreads were well and truly established. He began by telling me that his girlfriend at the time had backcombed them in for him (which I knew anyway), but it was what followed that surprised me most. Here is his dreading 'routine' as described: Every day for the first 3-4 months his girlfriend would cake them in SOAP. Body Shop 'Dewberry' to be precise, to glue the hairs together. To "dry them out" after this treatment they were then covered in TALC - Johnson's Baby Powder. To keep them fresh and mould free they were rinsed weekly with ZOFLORA DISINFECTANT, and sprinkled with patchouli oil to make them smell nice. He did not wash his hair for the first 18 MONTHS. "How are you tightening your roots?" he asked. "I'm not," I replied, "They're just dreading by themselves." He then proceeded to describe an elaborate plaiting fandango (yes, PLAITING), where he insisted I should take 3 loose strands of hair and... "Nah!" I cut in. "My roots are just being left to do there own lovely thing. They'll dread by themselves." "They'll look shit," he replied. "You'll shave 'em off within a year! When [his previous girlfriend] platted my roots, she'd do my whole head so tight it would hurt!" Hmm. He did have mighty fine-looking locks, though. But I do remember an occassion not long after I met him where I insisted he wash that knotty shit on his head: the entire bath water afterwards was a dark sludge-brown. Eww. This was (apparently) the norm back then, in those pre Knotty Boy, Dreadhead HQ, wax 'n' gel days. Does anyone else have locks that hark back that far, or know similar horror stories from back then? (Soaringeagle, I'm looking directly at you as I ask this ) My only consolation in this sorry tale of hair abuse is that soap and talc, unlike wax, WASHES OUT. I guess, if nothing else, this tale is a testament to the resilience of human hair. I think by the time I met him he had long quit messing with his locks and the natural dreading process had taken over. Thank fuck for that, is all I can say! Peace, love, and thanks for bearing with me on my ramble.