Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Article excerpt

Looking for ways to de-stress and cure my eczema has become my new obsession. It is very, very stressful. It often involves hurtling to the corner shop to buy chocolate. I was doing this the other day when I happened upon a little spa next to the Spar. It was called the TenSixTwo treatment rooms. I have no idea why it was called this. I can think of nothing very symbolic about those numbers.

I thought at first it was something to do with the street number but it wasn't. This is the sort of thing I worry about. I worried so much about why the TenSixTwo was called the TenSixTwo that I was very quickly more stressed than when I went in.

I looked at the treatments on offer. There was something called a Nailtique that promised to shape and paint my hands, which I didn't much fancy, and many other unfathomable procedures that would apparently result in 'peace' and 'clarity'. There were facials - including one called an 'environ active vitamin 60min' - hot wax treatments, warm wax treatments, combination wax treatments - top, leg and g-string; 3/4 leg and Brazilian/Hollywood - and so on and on.

Right at the bottom of the list, when I had almost given up hope, I found a range of massages, or what I assumed were massages. They weren't called massages, you see, they were called Massage Treatment Journeys. These cost £29 for a 30-minute journey, which presumably took you on a brief package tour of peace and clarity, to the full 90 minutes, which was £60 and obviously took you to heaven and back in the first-class sleeper carriage with a full buffet service.

I raised my voice over the din of Amazonian panpipe muzak: 'I'd like a Massage Treatment Journey, please.' A young girl in the waiting area giggled.

The ultra-tanned, ultra-eyebrow-tweazed assistant in white regarded me sternly. 'I'm sorry, we're fully booked, ' she said, as the panpipes gave way to a cascade of chimes conjuring waterfalls. 'Would you like to make an appointment? Let me see . . . you're looking at the end of next week . . . ' A spa next to the Spar opposite Tooting Common really ought not to be booking into next week, even if it does have grammatical pretensions. So I hurtled back out, and went on a chocolate, crisps and fags journey instead, which brought me no peace and clarity at all but cost £7. …

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