PUBLISHED: 17:12 EST, 30 October 2013 | UPDATED: 19:04 EST, 30 October 2013
The brunette striding purposefully across the station car park clearly meant nothing to my husband.
In fact, he looked straight through her into the emerging crowd, his eyes scanning for the familiar blonde who had been by his side for the past 14 years. 'Max, it's me,' I said, watching him gasp in shock at the dusky-haired stranger climbing into the car beside him.
As he glared furiously, I smiled sweetly. 'Calm down. I just fancied a little change, that's all.' He couldn't speak for a full 15 minutes. 'It just doesn't feel like you,' was all he could whimper - and turned his cheek as I leant in for a kiss.
He's right, I don't feel like me. I certainly don't look like me. Since dyeing my hair brunette last week after a lifetime as a blonde, I'm experiencing a side of life I've never been privy to before. And despite my husband's negative reaction, I have to say, it's been a pleasant surprise.
I'm loving being a new member of the brunette club, a club where all you have to do is don a pair of glasses to see your IQ instantly elevated in the eyes of others. A club where fellow brown-haired girls greet you like a life raft in a sea of platinum. A club where red lipstick looks 'sultry' not 'trashy'.
I have always been blonde. I have been every shade of blonde: bleached blonde, dark blonde, light blonde. I am now 47 and until last week had the same hair colour I'd had when I was 15 - when I first dyed my hair blonder than the shade I was born with.
I entered the world with hair as white as fairy snow, so my father said, and to this day he calls me fairy. I was the odd one out: my brother and sister were both born with beautiful brown hair. My sister used to tell me I'd been dropped on the doorstep because I looked different to them.
My blonde hair was inherited from my mother, and she has maintained her blonde highlights into her 70s.
So it was that I was a bright, bleached blonde when I first met Max, and no less brassy when I married him a few months later.
He'd always had a thing for fair hair - he has a long history of blonde-locked exes, and an even longer-standing passion for Claudia Schiffer.
But although this new look was for me, not him, I had no idea just how attached he was to my hair colour.
While I enjoy having long hair, I started to feel long blonde hair, at my age, was starting to look a little 'too much'. I saw a photo of myself the other day and thought I wouldn't look out of place behind the bar at the Rovers Return.
Although I had been studying people's hair colour for weeks, I made my mind up one Saturday when I stood in a supermarket queue and looked around to realise I was just another blonde in a sea of badly-highlighted heads.
Blonde covers grey a lot more effectively, but it became evident that it didn't suit every skin tone. I looked around and saw a gaggle of sallow-faced women with tresses sapping every bit of colour from their cheeks.
Without a word to Max, the following week, I went to the Daniel Galvin salon in London where I discussed shades of brown with a number of colourists. Was I a conker or a walnut? A demerara or a caramel?
One thing they all agreed on was that my present hair colour was, indeed, 'too much' and definitely needed toning down. A skin test to check for allergic reactions later and I was booked in for the next day.
It would be a surprise for Max, I reasoned to myself. I knew he would still love me, whatever I looked like, but I thought there would be no point in telling him before my appointment because he would only fly off the handle and talk me out of it.
As I entered the salon, I just missed Samantha Cameron, who has beautiful brunette locks, so I knew I was in good hands. Two hours of lotions, potions and colour charts later, it was done.
Looking in the mirror as my new brown tresses were blow-dried, I was struck by how healthy my hair looked. My skin tone looked warmer, less harsh, and I'd forgotten how blue my eyes were.
But the biggest difference was the new colour made me look younger. It was less draining. I felt as peachy and wholesome as the Duchess of Cambridge, whose hair I've always envied.
I bumped into a few female friends on the way home and the reaction was unanimously positive: they all loved it and said it took years off me. Some said that although they had only ever known me blonde, now they could only imagine me brunette.
My husband was not so easily won over, however. That first, frosty evening ended with him muttering that he might trade me in for a blonder model and shaking his head in disbelief, but I thought he would get over it by the morning.
Instead, he sulked heavily for the next few days, then started checking me every morning in the sunlight, saying, hopefully: 'It's definitely fading a little.' And, 'How long do you think before you're back to normal?'
At work, opinion was divided: there were lovers and haters - it was like Marmite. 'That really doesn't work,' scoffed one colleague, a gentleman, it seems, who really does prefer blondes (and has no manners).
Brown-haired women who'd walked past me for years suddenly stopped to chat. I seemed more approachable.
My children were more forgiving. After picking his jaw up off the floor, my dark-haired son, Zac, admitted he actually liked it. My daughter, Mimi, who's very blonde, said she felt like the odd one out and needed to dye her hair too, so she still looked like Mummy. I told her she was my fairy snow now.
As for Max, now a few highlights are fighting through - you can't keep hair that's been so heavily bleached down for long - even he's conceded that my dusky locks rather suit me.
I could see him listening intently when I told a friend my new look was staying for the winter and I think he's secretly started to enjoy the idea of a 'new' woman on his arm for a while.
I haven't had the heart to tell him I'm such a convert to the dark side, he may now have a brunette wife for life.