Treatment treats

My super generous brother and his wife bought me a voucher for my birthday, to use at the Treatment Rooms, Brighton’s premier hair removal and back pummelling day spa. So off I went last week to have a Swedish massage and a facial. There had been some debate amongst friends as to whether a Swedish massage involved being karate chopped up and down your legs. We decided that perhaps that was a Turkish massage, which instantly had me thinking of that scene in Eastern Promises when Viggo Mortensen has a naked knife fight in a hamam. Very much not what you’re meant to be thinking about when you go for a pampering morning, but you know, enduring image and all that.

It struck me that you only go for massages and facials when you’re orbiting 40. It never crossed my mind to do so in my Thirties or before. Then, I could wake from a night of strong lager and chips looking charmingly dishevelled, not haggard, as I do now. So I’m still a novice when it comes to spa etiquette. It’s all about relaxing, but I spent the first 10 minutes of my massage worrying about whether I should have taken my knickers off. And all that wandering about in a robe and slippers makes me feel a bit self-conscious, too, but perhaps that’s just a sign of immaturity? Bet Kylie doesn’t blanch at wearing a waffle dressing gown in a public-ish space.

The facial, which I naively thought would be all soothing swishing and cool lotions actually involved what my 12-year-old beautician termed ‘extraction’. That’s spot picking and pore dredging, really, using your nails. It hurt so much it made my eyes water. Once finished, she informed me that my eye area was ‘very dry’. It’s not dry love, those are just wrinkles. Silly! You’re still about three decades off getting your first, it’s true, which must be why you’re so shocked.

This firm-skinned imp then managed to flog me some stupidly overpriced eye cream, despite all the chunterings of my inner sceptic. You only need a dab, she said, but its cynical pump action bottle means you get a generous squirt each time you use it then go about looking like you’ve been weeping tears of lard.

In short, I am old enough to need the services of the Treatment Rooms, but perhaps not mature enough to be able to handle them. And, just so you know, I shall be keeping my knickers on next time.

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40 years young – that’s me

I’ve orbited 40 so well that I’m now orbiting out the other side, or ‘heading for the dark side’ as I like to optimistically call it. The birthday itself was sabotaged by a fierce cold, which meant I spent most of it in bed, wearing my new dressing gown, admittedly, and a diamante bracelet I’d been given by my neice, in a rather Princess Margaret-ish way. Plans were cancelled. But if you look at it all in a wider sense, the date itself sabotaged the day – 3rd of January, possibly the most depressing date in the calendar. So in a way the cold became a metaphor for the overall crapness of the birthday date and certainly was a physical expression of my more negative feelings about no longer being in my 30s. But whatever…
It feels ok to be 40. I haven’t suddenly found myself using a tartan topped shopping trolley or obsessing about the cold. But a nagging doubt about what lies ahead does linger over this particular birthday. More of the same, I predict, with smatterings of grimness. Plus you just can’t feel even a teeny bit smug about your age anymore. The future’s smugness-free, then.
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There’s a mouse loose about this hoose

I was woken last night by the sound of scratching. It wasn’t S readjusting his particulars, it was, dammy, a mouse! In my bedroom! I know because I turned on the light and there it was, sitting atop a pot of Olay Revitalist on my chest of drawers. I nipped downstairs for some oatcakes and a shoe box to attempt to trap it before quickly realising, as it sped behind the chest of drawers, that this was a fool’s errand. So I headed to the spare room for some mouse-free sleep.

The mouse, I hoped, would run downstairs and find a chink in a wall or a floorboard and be gone. Sadly, it ran straight into the only place it really shouldn’t have run straight into – the sitting room, where the cat sleeps. She must have thought Christmas had come early.

How in the name of ruddy hell do you get a live mouse out of your living room without the use of a cat – and therefore violent mouse death – or a trap (ditto)? I laid a trail of outcakes towards a gap in the floorboards, but it remains there still. Does anyone know how to mouse whisper?

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Cold front

Everyone is ill. What a lousy time of year this is. Committed Christians look away now, but I’m beginning to think the only reason Christmas was invented was to plonk some sort of festive highpoint in amongst what is otherwise a vast stretch of dreariness and shoddy health and unbelievably cold days.

After Dylan’s night in hospital, we are back to normal, only both boys are tired. Before I had children I mistakenly thought they had boundless energy, but the five-day-a-week school routine takes care to grind that out of them. They have dry lips, dark shadows under their eyes and are permanently cadging for days off.

Other friends have colds that won’t shift and aggressive viruses that won’t back off and one batch of mates have had something I’ve never even heard of, possibly relating to their sinuses, but it laid both of them out. It ended in ‘itis’, which is never good.

Perhaps we just need to accept that we are fallible. Just because we don’t get polio or tetanus anymore, we sort of assume that we shouldn’t get colds and persistent bugs. And who has the time, frankly. Illness happens to older people, right? Well I went for a drink the other night with a great old friend who is going deaf and we chatted about that and then we chatted about me having cancer and the odds of it coming back and despite all this had a merry old evening. But neither of us is 40 yet. Bad health, from cancer to the common cold, is no respector of age or fairness, it seems.

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Well hello?

Chatty cashiers. Good or bad? I used to think bad. All that false cheeriness and rubbish about the weather while you’re desperately trying to ram a conveyor-belt’s-worth of pasta and onions and muesli bars into a floppy carrier bag.

But then today, in Sainsbury’s, my cashier didn’t even say hello. Didn’t ask how many bags I’d used. Barely made eye contact. She wasn’t rude, just detached. Good for her, really. Best way to cope with a six-hour shift on the checkout at Sainsbury’s. But I felt a bit short-changed, as it were. I think I will appreciate the chatty cashier in future. I suggest you do likewise.

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I’ll go to bed at 4am

I pulled an all nighter on Wednesday night. Wayhey! I was up at A&E with my asthmatic son. Booo. This kind of all nighter involves no drinking or revelry, just a marathon of waiting followed by more waiting. If it had been a painting, it would have been entitled Still Life With Strip Lighting and Stethoscopes. Sadly, it was more like Carry On Up The Children’s Assessment Unit than fine art.

By 2.30 am, after waiting three hours in A&E to be transported up to the Children’s Unit, only to be dumped in a waiting room (strip lighting on full, of course), I did rather lose my cool with a nurse, those posters reminding patients that Abuse of NHS Staff Must Stop seeming to loom out of the walls at me. We got to bed at 4am and were up again at 7.30. It’s best to get up early when you’ve got lots more waiting around to do, I find. Dylan requested toast for his breakfast and was brought just that. Two slices of white with one pack of butter and no drink. He was ill for God’s sake and had had nothing except a few sips of water since about 11pm. It’s all so counter-intuative, the way you have to fight for basic support, like a bed, rather than a waiting-room chair, and a drink, rather than no drink at all. There’s something so bloody unnurturing about hospitals.  The individuals who work in them can be amazing, but the system seems to be, for want of a better word, buggered.

Oh well. He’s better, that’s the main thing. And in the tradition of ‘big nights’ we both went to bed, together, at 8pm last night.

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