Thursday, 12 March 2009

Ghost town London

Sometimes this whole recession thing seems a bit unreal. I say recession but the language changes all the time, as we venture deeper into debt like Dante plodding down further and further into Hades. For a long while it was an itty-bitty credit crunch (sounding like a new variety of chocolate bar). Now it’s a recession (hissy and spitty like a snake) tottering towards a depression (heavy and hopeless). Way down the bottom, in Satan’s pit, the spectre of bankruptcy is rattling its chains.

Cocooned here on Exmoor though it’s hard to see the reality in any certain terms: people are carrying on much as usual. But London is a different story.
I went up to London for work (yup the nice kind of work that entails being pampered for free – and even being paid for it – sometimes, just sometimes I DO love my job). Pootled over to Knightsbridge and thought I’d amuse myself by looking in the smart shops and cackling bitterly at the ridiculous women who think nothing of spending ten grand on a handbag. But the ridiculous women weren’t there. Knightsbridge was empty. Harvey Nichols was a ghost shop. I wandered, lonely as a lumpen little frowsy cloud, around the fashion floors and wondered for a moment if the fire alarms had gone off. All the nice new frocks were hanging on their plump little hangers but not a soul was plucking or stroking or trying on. Not a lollipop-head woman in sight. Not even a lone burqa, let alone the usual flotillas. It was eerie and weird.
However up on the fourth floor the medi-spa was buzzing. It seems that no matter how deep a recession/depression we’re in the one thing that can’t be abandoned is Botox. Probably a good thing as it really would be depressing (or amusing, depending on your point of view) if all those taut blank faces suddenly collapsed en masse.
Anyhow, I wasn’t there for Botox, I was having the all-singing, all-dancing bespoke facial. This started off with ritual humiliation by some super-duper camera which takes photos of your face and shows up every single spot and wrinkle, every tiny bit of sun damage, every enlarged pore and can even sneak on you if you have untoward bacteria lurking around. Surely every face has bacteria? I thought we were liberally coated in billions of the things? Ah well. It also compares you to the other women your age on its database (in other words Botox Knightsbridge woman) – the results weren’t going to be pretty. But, get this, I have less spots than 87 percent of BK women. I have no bacteria (well, no horrid ones anyhow) and I have less open pores than a whopping 91 percent of the lollipop brigade. How gratifying is that? Now just whistle quietly amongst yourselves while I mutter that I didn’t do so well on the wrinkle map and the poor therapist tried to sit on the picture of my sun damage to save me the pain. She also tried to gloss over the texture and the, er, red areas (yes, yes, on the nose and under the eyes, typical Exmoor face – too much wind and booze).
Anyhow, my skin was then peeled (it stung) and lymphatically drained (the machine sounded as if it were heavy breathing). State-of-the-art unguents were pushed into it via a machine that did a great imitation of a drunken bloke with thick stubble nuzzling you in the corner at a party. It was all impressively high tech but did it do the business? The therapist thought so, but then she would. I wasn’t quite so convinced and when I fetched up at my mate the barrister’s flat, she was equally unimpressed.
‘You look as though you’ve been up on the moor, trying to find the dog.’ ‘What, fresh and dewy, and romantically windswept?’
‘No. Red-faced, blotchy and cross.’
Ho hum. Never mind. We sank three bottles of wine and agreed there were better ways to spend your money and decent burgundy was probably one of them.
Next day I wandered off down to Chiswick to see Margot Gordon who had given me one of the most amazing treatments I’ve ever had (about ten years ago). Margot’s been living in Australia but had come back to London for a few months and offered me a belated top-up. She didn’t look much different to be honest and, whatever she’s up to in Australia, it’s obviously doing her more good than a £200 facial. It’s really hard to explain her work in a few sentences – it’s called Seiki and it has a touch of Shiatsu in it (but it works more on the energetic than the physical level). She’s trained with a Japanese master and has also been learning aboriginal healing in Australia. She knew I’d been having a tough time and that the last year had been foul beyond all measure but, when she sat down opposite me, I was a bit shocked to find her welling up with tears.

‘I didn’t realise it was that bad,’ she said. ‘I can feel it, here..’ and she gestured to her chest. Goose pimples ran all over my body and I swear it felt as if she had reached into my chest and pulled out a huge wad of grief. After that she had me lie down on a large padded mat in front of the fire and she gently moved and stretched me. Time becomes elastic with Seiki and I went off into dream worlds, floating on a cloud of wellbeing. When she brought me back to earth, it felt as if my whole world had shifted. I felt lighter, younger, innocent somehow (I know that sounds weird and flaky, but that’s how it was). We hugged and I had to run off to catch my train and it was only as I was jogging down the road that I realised something else. I was jogging. My back wasn’t hurting and the aches in my feet and shoulders (I have this weird condition called palindromic rheumatism) simply weren’t there. When I caught sight of myself in the mirror I looked totally different, about five years younger – less stressed, less mean and grouchy. So, all the results I should have had from the fancy facial – but at a fraction of the price. If you get the chance, go have a treatment with Margot before she vanishes back to the outback in May….and send her my love.


22 comments:

Sorrow said...

Anything that puts a smile on your face, a lift in your gait, and makes you feel 5 years younger , is not Flaky or weird.
I am glad
so very glad that your trip to London brought you something good for you!

Woozle1967 said...

Wow! I'll have some of that please. Anything to make my feet feel better - Scleroderma has made the soles of my feet thinner, so I often feel like I'm walking on marbles. Sounds like pure heaven. And jogging too, eh?xx

Preseli Mags said...

The facial sounded weird (being nuzzled by a drunken stubbly bloke??!) but I love the sound of the seiki. It sounds as if it did you good too.

Dave said...

I have read a little about that seiki but never had it done. Sounds like it works.

Nice blog, by the way. And I like the look of ASBO Jack. My kind of dog!

Tessa said...

Oooh, lived that vicariously. Lovely. Thank you.

(PS. I wonder if there is a reason that I don't seem to be able to get onto your 'followers' list?)

Carrie said...

Could you send Margot my way please!!! It sounds like i need her in my life - though she may end up living in the spare room under duress, hehe. I've been to lots of people about my back and shoulders because of stress. The last 2 told me I had hurt their arms and hands and they couldn't help. The very last women used a machine on me and it helped a little but I'd need it every day and it's £45 a pop! Thank god for painkillers.

elizabethm said...

Oh jane I think I want margot to come and live with me. How wonderful that sounds. And these facials always sound fantastic in the magazine articles but I have never had one (don't have many as always feel cross and conned afterwards) which hasn't left me blotchy and cross and prone to spots. I can do that by myself with a bottle of wine and a block of Green and Blacks.

Fennie said...

Wow! Yes I can agree with the recuperative powers of massage Shiatsu etc of which I am a great fan. But what is palindromic rheumatism? And why is it palindromic? And how does it differ from other sorts of rheumatism? Toes and fingers, followed by knees and elbows, hips and shoulders I suppose. Still it's a lovely feeling when you just want to run for the joy of running (short distances at least not half-marathons). Lovely description of the satanic spectre rattling the chains of bankruptcy deep in the woodwork like a species of Marley's ghost. Long may the recession confine itself to London.

Calico Kate said...

Oh EJ how wonderful. I will look out for Seiki up here we have Reiki and Kinesiology(sp?) - which is fab.
We wouldn't really know there was a recession up here if it wasn't for the news, in fact more people visiting than before, so London can keep it!
Lovely writing, thank you for sharing.
CKx

Milla said...

that was just lovely, Jane. I was chortling and snuffling away imagining your discomfit (always amusing) and then your chum's reaction, and then pleasure at you being such a wine-pig (again, so nice to contemplate the corruption of another's liver), and then that really touching bit at the end. SO glad you feel better. Honey, you deserve to.

Frances said...

Jane, that was fascinating. Having never had a professional massage of any type, I wish I counld meet Margot Gordon for an amazing introduction to the process.

What you write about the shops of Knightsbridge is also true in the major shops over here. I am just hoping that we can keep our loyal customers coming to our shop, and find some newcomers, too.

xo

Sally's Chateau said...

I think Margot could do with a holiday in the South of France don't you ? :)

Suffolkmum said...

Blimey, I want your job! Mine today is beyond awful. Margot sounds fab. I'm so glad that you felt as you did afterwards - you described it beautifully. Funnily enough I had to go to London for work recently too, went to the west end and thought 'where is everyone?' Slightly scary.

KittyB said...

Fantastic sounding treatment. I had too many of the former when I was writing about beauty, and the latter are few and far between, but wonderful when you find them.

Welsh Girl said...

Sounds heavenly. Wonder if she'd consider moving to Wales in may, rather than the outback (equally 'middle of nowhereish' you could argue). Love the blog - I'll be back for more!

lampworkbeader said...

Seiki sound great, but either treatment must be a hell of a lot better than my usual beauty routine of a quick face wash and a liberal application of Lidle's antiwrinkle cream (at £2.99 a real snip)The whole process not helped by dear Mr lampie's suggestions tha maybe I should try a spot of pollyfiller.

Ivy said...

Oh not flaky and weird at all. I had a similar experience in November following a course in Rogers therapy. Do you think we can persuade Margot to stop in North Germany on her return trip?

LadyLuz said...

Sounds like a much-needed and deserved experience. Wish we had a Margot down in south west Spain.

Cowgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cowgirl said...

Wow, she sounds amazing - so glad you were able to see her and that it made suh a difference. If the effects should wear off you will just have to come on down - the figs are on me! Loved your humour - as ever! xx

PS that was me deleting my stuff-up before

DulwichDivorcee said...

Sounds fabulous! I've had reiki but it was a rather odd experience, never heard of seiki... feng shui book looks gorgeous!

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