It was as I was lying on the table having the bottom of my feet pummelled by the tiny iron fists of my tiny Chinese masseuse that I thought something might be up with the back, neck and shoulder massage I’d booked.
There is something wonderfully decadent about handing over cash to have someone spend an hour rubbing you down especially if, as I do, you leave it so long between each session that the massages have no lasting effect whatsoever.
Still, I’m not someone who can be accused of depriving myself due to an attack of common sense; thus it was that I found myself on a day off work sitting outside Wild Caper, supping cappuccino and reading the paper, and deciding that I would extend my patronisation of local businesses and book a massage at the little place next door.
I can say, without a doubt, that it was one of the more memorable massages I’ve undergone. It didn’t have the vehement reprimandy quality of the lady at Champneys; nor did it have the blissful surroundings of the Ischian hills. Instead, there was a whole raft of things that, several days later, I still can’t quite shake from my mind.
Because, as a starter for ten, I don’t ever remember a massage starting before with what can only be described as an almost-vicious prod to the base of the skull. Definitely not for faint hearts who like to be eased into their hour of unfettered rest and relaxation, but an interesting beginning nonetheless.
And it rather continued in that somewhat odd but not ineffective vein for the rest of my time on the table.
The fact that I did manage to relax completely is testament to the power of the aforementioned iron fists, because despite the plinky, relaxing music, I could quite clearly hear the dulcet tones of shouty, crashy prep for the dinner service coming from Casa Morita next door. And actually, all things considered, the plinky, relaxing music wasn’t all that relaxing, given it was mostly pan-pipe renditions of 80’s power ballads. You’ve not heard I Want to Know What Love Is until you’ve heard it on pan-pipes.
Given the situation, I was pretty sure there was nothing else that’d make me blink a metaphorical eyelid (given that they were shut at the time). But no. Because as soon as I’d tuned out the preparation of quesadillas and pan-piped Phil Collins (Another Day in Paradise, for those who’re interested), I was being squeezed and manipulated in all sorts of places I hadn’t anticipated.
Once the surprise had worn off that I was, in fact, not there for the back massage that I’d booked, but a full-body number, I minded less that I was having my calves rubbed, and instead thanked whatever made me decide to shave my legs that morning. And, once she’d started on the bits of me that weren’t my back, by golly did she commit to the project. Once the feet had been given their going over, I had the somewhat dubious pleasure of having my bottom roundly thwacked with the side of her hands before the rest of me - each and every bit - was subject to just about the same fate.
Still, if you’re going to do a thing, you may as well do it properly, and I shall now ask for my money back from any massage I experience in which various bits of my face are’t given the required attention. Because there really is nothing like a perfectly relaxed eyebrow.
BBC critics ramp up their attacks
11 hours ago