Wednesday, November 05, 2008

When I get older, losing my hair

(I suppose I should post something about Obama but, really, what is there to say? The sheriff is near...)

The other day, I had an Ayurvedic fusion massage. It was work, not play: I was reviewing the spa facilities at a big posh hotel. This isn't my usual sort of gig, I should stress. I tend to cover restaurants, shops and the like; activities where you keep your mind on the job, and most of your clothes on. As I submitted to the expert fingers of my therapist, I wondered how one is supposed to review such an experience; how can you keep your critical faculties intact when the whole point of the experience is to drift off into a sort of blissful half-sleep? Like the Sixties, if you remember it, you weren't there.

At one point, she proferred a tub of some fragrant unguent, laced with ginger, aloe and apricot, explaining that it would strengthen my hair roots. As she rubbed it into my scalp, I wondered whether such claims would stand up to the rigours of the Advertising Standards Authority. I do remember that purveyors of hair products are forbidden from saying that such-and-such can give you healthy hair, because all visible hair is essentially dead; the best you can hope for is "healthy-looking hair". But what does that mean? If something can't in reality be healthy, how can it look healthy? Could you have a healthy-looking rock, or a healthy-looking chair?

The fact that my mind was meandering along such a pointless, meaningless trajectory is, I suppose a tribute to the care-kneading properties of the spa. Maybe I should just type 1000 words of stream-of-consciousness bollocks and say there, that's how good this place is.

On the way home on the train, still slightly spaced out, I found my battered copy of Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief tangled up with various press releases at the bottom of my bag, and realised that three weeks ago, I'd got to within 20 pages of the end and then forgotten about it. Which may say something about Coupland's ability to write compelling prose, or my ability to finish what I'd started, or both. Or, of course, neither.

But I won't review the book, except to say that it feels like an uneasy synthesis of Coupland's self-consciously post-modernly smartarse works (Generation X, Microserfs, JPod - the ones where it sometimes feels as if the plot is just an excuse for a barrage of one-liners) and the more heartfelt ones about dysfunctional families and suburban loneliness (All Families Are Psychotic, Eleanor Rigby).

I'll just offer this short extract:

By twenty-five you know you're never going to be a rock star, by thirty you know you're never going to be a dentist, and by forty there are maybe three things left that you can still possibly be -- and even then, that's only if you run as fast as you possibly can to try to catch the train.

Which links, however tangentially, with two events of the weekend; my bubblewrap-related midlife crisis and seeing Nick and Barney for the first time in Dawkins knows how long. Because, with all due respect to the many fine, upstanding, dedicated, talented firefighters and brain surgeons and teachers and fishmongers and actuaries and Sudoku compilers and lumberjacks and bank clerks and hod carriers and psychiatric social workers and morticians and spivs and dilettantes and flâneurs and hotel spa reviewers out there, I've come to the conclusion that there are only two jobs worth doing: editing the Guinness Book of Records; and being a Dalek. And between us, we cracked them both. Before we were forty.

10 comments:

llewtrah said...

The scalp massage sounds good. I have one of those scalp massagers that looks like a bunch of coathangers taped together. Whenever I can persuade someone to use it on my scalp is is soooo good it gives me goosepimples.

The Bureauista said...

According to George W. Bush, you should add 'being the American President' to your list of jobs worth doing. I was amused to read that he told Obama: 'You are about to go on one of the great journeys of life.' as if being the Prez is akin to cashing your first pay cheque or going abroad for the first time.

garfer said...

I had a letter published in the Dandy when I was eight.

After that all ambition ceased.

realdoc said...

Yes yes, all very interesting but I'm still waiting for the devestating critique of the Wire.

The Dotterel said...

So it's downhill from now on, then?

Robert Swipe said...

His Mum (Diane) must be *so* disappointed, eh?...

Must dash - Eno's on Question Time. (Although *Dennett* only knows what he's going to be playing...)

;?

xxx
Bob

Tim Footman said...

Lllewtrah: You need goop as well. Although maybe hat's only because I have very little hair.

Bureauista: Maybe GWB thinks the last eight years were just an extended session of Grand Theft Auto or something.

OK, Garfer - make that three things.

Sorry, Realdoc, real life (????) intruded a bit. It will come, honest.

Precipitously so, Dotterel.

Maybe hell choose his answers from a deck of cards, Bob.

Robert Swipe said...

No Tim, you're thinking of Wink Martindale.

(Or was it Max Bygraves?)

He was, of course, quite magnificent.

(Eno, that is - not Wink Martindale)


((Although...)

xxx
Bob

Wrod vreficififififcation: onlandtit

You couldn't make it up, could you??

FirstNations said...

come clean, Tim....how many of those statistics did you make up? 'Fastest pelican-operated light rail in Sweden'... 'highest live birth rate per vole in an industrialized nation' ...come on. 'fess up.

I want to be a Dalek.

Tim Footman said...

Bob: You're forgetting, of course, that Eno roped in Max and Wink to provide backing vocals and castanets on "Heroes".

FN: All of them. Scribbled on the back of fag packet the night before we went to press. Except the one about the pelican, that was true.