Monthly Archives: November 2013

Intro to Massage Workshop










Yesterday, I did a 5-hour introductory massage course in Covent Garden, with a view to ingratiating myself with kin and well-behaved house guests over the cold Winter months.

On arrival it wasn’t that dissimilar in feel to the Speed Awareness one I did a few months back, but for being held in a tropically-heated basement, attendees clutching a towel and baby wipes.

The online blurb described a theory-weighted programme with some have-a-go hands action at the end.

In the flesh, soothing vegetarian music and amber lights made it 2 chromosomes short of a Gentle Touch sex workshop.

We were 16 souls, mostly paired: friends, office workmates, yoga mom and punky daughter- amongst which at least 3 individuals quietly desirous of unleashing lessons learned on a hottie, armed with some vanilla-scented candles and Michael Buble’s Best Hits.

Oh, and not forgetting (though trying to avoid making eye contact with) one peaceful, hand-locked couple a few wheatgrass shots down, on the cusp of asking if Spiritual Lovemaking would be covered before or after lunch.

I could have been partnered with the Keen Bean hellbent on getting his knuckle-fold just so, whilst grappling with premature expression syndrome.

Or the middle-aged Swinger Hopeful in the graphic personality shirt confusing his Eastern European gal pal with What’s My Line? mime artist moves around her shoulder area during Circle Friction.

Lady Luck dealt me instead a well-built Muscovite in a cycling shirt, reassuringly functional in approach, with the look of Putin’s kinder brother.

Our instructor- let’s call her Karen- was an affable Liverpudlian who started every sentence with ‘Obviously’ even having established that none of us knew a massage from a vulnerable Kellogg’s employee.

She sure as eggs wasn’t going to let preparation get in the way of proceedings, taking deep breaths in – looking at her instruction sheet as if at virgin news- before exhaling all the apparently irrelevant info on the out breath, in order to ‘freestyle’.

For friends-and-family casual pummeling tips it’s all about the moves, she affirmed. So sleeves were rolled up within 10 minutes and our clothed orgy was out of the starting blocks.

It’s quite weird laying hands on a stranger you probably gave the evil eye to on the Tube 20 minutes earlier. Weirder still how quickly it becomes normal.

Corny yes, but how many wars would be waged after a summit of back rubbing? Obama leaning into a bit of Merkel shoulder pinching?

Karen made it all look like hand ballet, flowing wrist actions easing supplicant ‘receivers’ into The Land of Grateful Surrender.

Now, I wouldn’t say I was hurting Vlad per se but he wasn’t moaning ‘more more’ either and it mightn’t be a stretch to imagine he was hoping I wasn’t the escort he’d booked for the evening based on my assault of his seated torso.

Thankfully, when he did give feedback he was solicitous for it to contain all the emotion of a shipping forecast- a code to which each of us adhered like George Alagiah (the heady couple excepted, with their all-too-audible whispers of ‘Ooh yeah, do it like that, that’s how I like it. Jesus…’)

When we progressed onto ‘Hands’ it felt like mine and Vlad’s relationship had moved to second base, forearm stroking proving more intimate than neck squeezing, via the slopping on of baby oil.

One student slightly hit the nail on the head by asking, ‘What’s the point of pulling fingers?’ but Karen hammered it down harder, a soft Paul McCartney fresh from a Youtube philosophy tutorial : ‘Basically, it’s just nice to be touched.’

‘Feet’ took it up an even steeper notch, after which my partner (the proverbial last man a few hours prior) started to look like a cocoa-dusted Ryan Gosling, from which the conclusion I’d be romantically drawn to a dog if it could see its way to a bit of light effleurage (with the paddy bit of its paws, question mark)

Feet, though: not for everyone- an oddly shameful body part never allowed wholly to dissociate from Odor Eaters…

The guard of the group is down at this stage.

Some personal information is being divulged behind me and eager Sam is laughing an awful lot, while Vlad and I are relieved to find ourselves walking the tightrope of warmth and coolth without wobbling.

We’ve made some technical improvements in a short amount of time. I’ve told him not to do the thing when he sticks his finger in my Achilles heel tendon; he’s discouraged my karate chops, moving them away from brutality toward punishment.

To be honest, I reckon that our therapeutic foray has the potential to turn into a more full-blooded education without substantial resistance from the majority, given an extra 24 hours in residence and a few carefully chosen refreshments* (*included).

But for the time-being we remember ourselves and there’s only half an hour left…how to close this bite-sized sensory adventure?

With what other than the sublime Indian Head Massage, possibly still illegal in Alabama.

Involving a litany of finger titillation so scrummy it’d be a wonder if a few weren’t left gasping ‘Jurassic Park’, it’s hard to joke down this smorgasbord of sensuality; temple-encircling, scalp tapping, dry shampooing- all there for the taking.

I may have been babbling ‘Keep pulling my hair’ or ‘say something in Russian’ as Karen was bringing us back into the room, back into the room with hand-outs and the offer to spend more tutored Sundays ducking the responsibility of ferrying kids to birthday parties.

A day spent well, no doubt. Its projected legacy beyond the inexpert grappling of those foolish enough to stray within my fervent reach?

The certainty that massage is a truly skilful skill and that even when asked to apply more pressure, you need to keep the best interests of your thumbs at heart.

Unless the person asking is a circumspect Russian with a wide neck; in which case best not to take any chances.


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Confessions of a ‘Fattie’

Last week I found this email I sent in 2004 when living in Seattle.

It was in reply to a Craigslist posting entitled ‘Confessions of a ‘Fattie”* by a woman who said she was struggling with over-eating.

(* I think I might have added the inverted commas in an attempt to flag up the labeling.)

Fattie, I found your posting sad but positive that you see you have a problem in your life- it’s the first step to sorting it out.

You already know about exercise and eating better food and cutting down so here is my tip, which I thought of in the car today after I bought a cake:

You have to realize that- in this country at least- hunger is a desire rather than a need. Just because you feel you would like more ice-cream doesn’t mean you have to actually go and eat it any more than you think you would like to go on vacation to the Bahamas and find yourself at the airport buying a ticket.

Instead, you have to remind yourself that the need to lose weight and re-gain self-esteem, health, a love life etc. is a real need and not just a desire.

Then you have to ask yourself if it makes sense in any way to prioritize a desire over a need.

The answer is no.

And as soon as you get hold of that concept and do something brave with it you can start giving in to some of that desire again, only this time in more moderation.

Good luck.

From which these observations:

1. I’m struck by how much I sound like me even though my perception is that 9 years ago I was a different me in a number of substantial ways.

Over time, we tend to change fundamentally the way we see things far more than we change things about our fundamental selves. I think I think.

2. I can acknowledge that my Advice Tourettes is at least in part a semi-conscious coping strategy for myself developed in response to a historically anxious disposition.

This could make it a screwy proposition but mostly doesn’t (I’d protest defensively) because services offered by those personally invested in them are, on the whole, better.

3. Can you offer a genuinely valuable opinion on a personal situation of which you have had no real experience?

I think yes, if it contains some truth that might resonate…

… but that it might resonate better if it is a truth that has originated from experience.

(Based on an amalgamation of answers 1. and 2., the nirvana of reaching out to others helpfully should be, therefore, at the Venn diagram intersection of Advice Tourettes and Personal Experience.)

4. The American spellings and references take me back to the acclimatisation/ acclimating issues of living in another country from which your homeland is divided by the same language.

Come the 75th time you say ‘glass’ as ‘glarse’, and no-one understands (or knowing you have been living in America for a while imagines you are trying and failing to be charming by persisting in repeating a word you know no-one will understand), do you relent and try a mutoid ‘gllasse’?

I lost chunks of teenage time to Mum and Dad’s serial debate over the pronunciation of my Cumbrian school Casterton, with Mum sticking to the Southern vowels and Dad going the ‘When in Rome’ route.

Mum would exhibit signs of escalating irritation on each occasion, before shouting at a volume which should be reserved by rights for the discovery of a fire somewhere other than a fireplace: ‘You don’t say Casstor sugar, do you, FOR GOD’S SAKE?’

(… from which the sub-observation that recurring points of contention on minor issues in a relationship are de facto absurd and so funny.)

It’s the old ‘Paris, Paree’ conundrum that never seems to go away.

5. Was the cake mentioning a good move? Presumably it was ‘Hey, I know cake love, I’m like you’ but might have jarred in the same way as a note to a heroin addict that opens, ‘I thought of this while shooting up yesterday…’

6. Does desire originate in need or are they polar opposites? Does desire become a need and if so, when? Is desire more urgent than a need because it is about wanting rather than fulfillment- demand rather than supply? Is desire always greedy? Is desire in moderation still desire? Is it worthwhile? Shouldn’t it wear its colours authentically, with the buttons pinging off its blouse?

7. Craigslist is brilliant in a small city because everyone’s recommending chiropractors who live in your apartment block, and selling stuff you can just trot around the corner to pick up.

London Craigslist is like going outside your front door and shouting, ‘Anyone in the London area know where I can buy a good washing machine?’

The combination of this blunderbuss targeting with a gigantic and eclectic pool of humanity makes the Missed Connections section, in particular, scintillating and weird.

Here are two examples from today’s:

Looking for that woman who gave me a handjob today in 259 bus- m4w-27 (N15)

If u see this please reply because I really want to finish what you started:) I hope you see it because I can’t get u out of my head


Gorgeous Girl Walking in Enfield 02/11/13 Around 13.50- m4w-24 (Enfield)

Gorgeous Girl Walking In Enfield I Was In My Black Car And Turned To Se You We Made Eye Contact
I Was Wearing A White Shirt.

You Were Wearing All Black And Holding An Black Umbrella

If You Read This Send Me Your Photo And I You Are That Certain Girl I Will Send My Details


I need to get out more. Or start making eye contact with men everywhere I go, then racing home to see if someone who starts each word with a capital letter wants to track me down online for a long-term intimate relationship.

8. Where is Fattie? Who is Fattie? How did Fattie feel about this response? Has Fattie wrapped herself around more or less than 1,000 cakes in the last 9 years? (a bit more than 2 a week)

Is Fattie Thinnie now?

Or is Fattie on a cloud catching bites of mist promising she’ll spend the rest of Eternity giving God lovebites if only he’ll let her return to Washington State for just one afternoon; to dash around saying, ‘Hi, hi’ breathlessly to family but basically to sit down for one last mesmerising 3-hour session with a fresh cinnamon bun.


Filed under Mumbo Life, Mumbo Obsessions, Mumbojumbosheepism, Uncategorized