(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.