Après le Déluge

It has been a little quiet on here of late, and this is not entirely my fault.  As you will later see, I am placing some of the blame firmly with higher powers (or perhaps with a malicious butterfly).  Some portion of the causative liability does lie closer to home, and with the chronic insomnia that has afflicted the author, intermittently, for the last couple of decades.  My recent, prolonged estrangement from the restorative embrace of Morpheus has left me parted from my muse (or at least the get-up-and-go to translate limited inspiration to textual iron pyrites).  Some days, I do wonder if the bone-deep enervation, combined with such news as I fail to avoid, is nature’s way of telling me that I have passed my natural span and I should exit, stage left: it probably has been too long since last I visited the Swiss.  Still, last night I managed to achieve nearly eight hours of uninterrupted slumber for the first time in weeks and so will probably stick around for a little longer.  Annoyingly, when I did awake this morning, it interrupted a dream in which I was being effortlessly witty in front of an audience – something I rarely manage when awake (perhaps the jarring unreality of the hypnogogic state was what brought me back to reality?).

The last few days I have been lying awake in historic Cambridge: seeing friends and indulging in pursuits both cultural and physical.  It had been six months since my last visit, but the orgy of demolition and construction seems to have continued unabated (or even intensified).  Like London, it would seem that Cambridge is pricing out the claustrophobic young – but still offers reasonable value for any sardines seeking a flat share.  Do young sardines get given the key to the tin when they turn the fishy-equivalent of 21?  Or does that musing date me horribly?

In the wee, small hours of Friday morning, Cambridge was hit by a storm the likes of which I have never seen.  We had continuous thunder for several hours and a prolonged period over which the city was struck by 200+ bolts of lightning per minute.  I had a decent excuse for my sleeplessness, rather than the usual “cause unknown” (though having been between jobs for a little while, I think I must exonerate “the man”).  In the morning sunshine, the city looked rather beautiful with all the building and plants washed clean by the night’s precipitative excitement.    Sadly, this was not the only effect of the storm – with significant flooding across the city, including the basement parlour where my massage therapist plies his trade.  Luckily, the waters had been conquered by the modern day Knut by the time I had my massage later that afternoon and the (as always, odd) conversation with my therapist should generate several posts in the days to come.  The storm also took out the city council’s offices and had a rather serious impact on Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

I was staying in Sidney Sussex College – wisely on the first floor and so above any rising waters.  My room was perfectly comfortable – though with oddly few, badly-positioned power sockets, which must be an issue for the modern student – and the shared shower could offer a force of water to match the previous night’s storm.  The college is wonderfully central and offers a very generous breakfast – and, to-date, has always offered extremely stimulating breakfast conversation.  This time, with an american chap involved in the drafting of NAFTA, covering the Euro crisis and the different models of university on the two sides of the Atlantic.  I have never had a conversation in a proper hotel which can match those I’ve had in a Cambridge college refectory: it is almost worth paying for a night’s stay just for the breakfast.

The biggest impact the storm had on me (and, lest we forget, I am the important one here) was the damage to Cambridge University’s computing systems which meant that I was without internet access for most of Friday.  Even when it returned, it was generally slow and would not load the WordPress website at all (though was quite happy to serve any other site I attempted).  Is there some sort of long-term feud between WordPress and Cambridge University?  Have they published something slanderous about the VC?  Whatever the reason, I was actually unable to blog until I returned home: an enforced period of cold turkey (which I seem to have survived without obvious symptoms, so this is not an addiction – it must be a life-style choice).

It was lovely being back in Cambridge and I remember why I loved living there.  I also remembered some of the frustrations too: Saturday combined graduation with an enormous quantity of foreign language students and the usual shoppers making the city centre hideously busy.  I hid in a variety of bookshops, the Divinity School (aka The “Div” School – which gives a very different impression of its role) and a church before fleeing back towards the relative peace-and-quiet of London’s Southbank and thence home.  I think I could live in Cambridge again – if life were to take me that way – but there is now a lot about Southampton and it environs that I would miss.  My new city has quietly wormed its way into my affections and become home.

The title for this return to the blog, continues the occasional (and largely ignored) conceit of using foreign titles: on this occasion turning to the French poet Arthur Rimbaud (never played by Sly Stallone, so far as I know) and his thematically rather apt work of the same name.

Lucky numbers

In our part of the world, the number seven is considered lucky whereas thirteen has largely negative associations.  As a lapsed pure mathematician, I view both as being irreducible in the ring of integers – and did learn the times table for both when in Mr Oliver’s class, back in 1976 (this, at a time, when you were only expected to go as far as twelve – so I was clearly showing off even then).

This last weekend I turned seven-squared and perhaps it was this which had me musing on my good fortune.  (I assume when I reach the ripe old age of 169 I shall be posting on the topic of my ill-starred life or, as seems more likely, my ill-starred death and continuing decomposition.)  I do generally consider myself to be pretty lucky (even beyond the relative good fortune of my birth in terms of timing, location, sex, class et al) though suspect to some extent I am “making” my own luck.  This does not mean that I have suddenly started believing in cosmic ordering (or some similar hokum) nor that I have found (or inherited) some mysterious magical artefact, the use of which generates good fortune.  No my good luck seems to stem from being vaguely polite and helpful to others, talking to people (whether they want it or not), being somewhat open to trying new things and making modest attempts to enjoy what happens and what is around you.  Writing that last sentence, I realise I now sound like some sort of Pollyanna with a mis-understanding of the meaning of the work luck – still, even Mr Collins is willing to admit that one definition of luck is “good fortune” and I have already established that I have out-lived my shame so I shall plough on.

I shall be illustrating today’s lecture with incidents from my birthday weekend, which was spend in the East Anglian city of Cambridge.  To the extent readers are using this blog as some sort of self-help resource (and if any readers are using it thus, would they please note that no warranty – express or implied – is offered and that they may wish to consider visiting a mental health care professional), they should feel free to generalise from the particular herein described to the specifics of their own drab, wretchèd lives.

I started my anniversary festivities with a good long massage – to prepare my flesh for the activities which were to come.  I believe many of those being massaged enjoy the experience in silence or to the strains of some sort of pseudo-Eastern pseudo-music or a Jive Bunny style mix of whale song.  I spend the time having oddly surreal and rambling conversations with my therapist – which certainly makes the time fly and usually provides some good, solid material for GofaDM (even at rest, I am always thinking about you: my audience).  This time we firmly established the comedy value of the word “weasel” and laid the basis for a future (and quite risqué) future post – but before the fruits of that particular conversation are laid before you I do need to acquire a few props.  The same conversation may also soon be responsible for the launch of my improv comedy career – all I need to remember is “Yes and…”.

Now suitably relaxed, I went to the world premier of a comic, chamber opera based on an F Scott Fitzgerald short story.  I think that younger versions of me would be appalled by the implications of that last sentence – but current me (who knows the producer) had rather a good time.  I feel Douglas Adams would also have approved as one character spent the entire opera in the bath whilst another spent substantial stage-time clad in a dressing-gown.

On the day itself, I took my traditional breakfast at the Indigo Cafe – where I sat next to operatic bass (and so potential role model for your author as singing student) John Tomlinson.  Sadly, he didn’t sing for his breakfast (next time I shall have to contrive to bump into him at supper time) but his speaking voice is very impressive – though I was pretending to read my book, I spent the whole of breakfast eavesdropping on the great man.

I popped into Fitzbillies to buy some breakfast provisions for Sunday (I feel breakfasting at the Travelodge is only for the truly desperate).  For some reason, perhaps because I didn’t want coffee or am a regular in the evening, half my breakfast (the nordic half, rather than the famous Chelsea bun) came free – a definite result!  After a visit to the cinema to see Love is Strange, which was rather enjoyable, I went to the ADC Theatre to see the Footlights’ Spring Revue.  I’d seen several Footlights shows while living in Cambridge, but this was in a whole different league: properly funny throughout.  This is what the radio comedy listener in me had been expecting from the Footlights all these years, but had always previously been disappointed.  The ADC also still offers the cheapest interval ice cream in Cambridge.

Back to Fitzbillies for dinner and my last glass of Sipian, a red wine from the Médoc which has been my tipple of choice for nearly two years now.  The cupboard is now bare, and there wan’t even enough for a full glass – though it looked a pretty decent glassful to me – so my last glass was enjoyed FOC.  Definitely a glass more than half-full rather than half-empty!  The restaurant was on a new menu and so for some reason (though as a regular haunt, I do know many of the staff quite well now), I was offered a second and quite delicious smoked salmon-based starter as a free bonus (sometimes, being only mostly vegetarian is a boon!).  I left quite nicely stuffed to head off to the West Road concert hall.

The CUCO concert at West Road was the primary reason for being in Cambridge for the weekend, my favourite orchestra playing one of my favourite pieces (Beethoven’s 7th Symphony) in a very strong programme which included Stephen Kovacevich playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor.  Not only excellent music, but I bumped into a friend in the lobby and was invited for a free glass of interval wine where I managed to have my second conversation in six months with someone who has been trained to handle an attacking polar bear.

I finished my birthday in the pub – The Punter – with a friend from my tennis club days.  A more perfect day would be hard to imagine – if I must get older (and apparently I must) then this is the way to do it.

The following day I had an early morning singing lesson (where I made a start on the Trill – or Trilly as Mr Vaccai delightfully calls it in the Peters Edition) – following a windswept stroll along the River Cam – before going to a Masterclass run by Stephen Kovacevich.  My piano playing is dire, but its always interesting to see much better players being given insights into improving further (I think at some level I hope something will rub-off on me).  I have been playing longer than most of the students had been alive – though I suspect they had put in more hours, or certainly more effective hours, at the keyboard.  Mr K makes an excellent teacher and you could really see the young players gaining from his experience.  The undoubted highlight was a young chap called Julien Cohen who was working on the Allegro Agitato from Gershwin’s Piano Concerto.  He was good to start with, but after Mr K’s insights he was quite extraordinary – his playing made me fall in love with the piece of music (it even bought a tear to my jaded eye).  He seemed so much better than the recording I have of  Joanna McGregor and the LSO, which always leaves me rather cold.  I am really disappointed that I can’t make it to the performance on Thursday: CUMS really ought to start recording their concerts and sticking them on Bandcamp (or similar).  I would certainly be willing to pay to hear them, and I cannot be the only person who can’t always make it to West Road on the day.

All that then remained for my birthday weekend was the rail journey home – but at least engineering works on the line to Southampton have finally finished.  A wonderfully lucky weekend, though I’m sure nothing that happened to me would be even in the top thousand wishes of most people given access to a genie.

Jazz, hands

This last weekend, I returned to Cambridge once more – staying at Sidney Sussex college, which is very central.  It did bring back memories of my own first year in college, which was similarly situated albeit in the dreaming spire adorned arch-enemy of my weekend destination.  Ostensibly, I had returned to enjoy a few of the delights of the Cambridge Summer Music Festival – but did manage to tack on some additional fun.

The jazz component of our title was delivered by Ms Jacqui Dankworth and “her musicians”.  Not perhaps my usual cup of tea, but really quite entertaining.  Ms D may not have had a great relationship with her mother but does seem, nonetheless, to be turning into her (a state of affairs which, I seem to recall, Algernon Moncrieff described as the tragedy of her sex).  She also has a condign mastery of the breathing required to sing – something which I rather lack.  Despite somewhat more than 48 years on this planet, my breathing is still surprisingly poor – and this may be exacerbated by my gymnastic ambitions.  Having abs (and, indeed, a core) of steel is vital when hanging from the rings, but is less useful when trying to provide the oxygen supply needed for a decent vocal performance.  This may explain why so few opera singers have been gymnasts (and vice versa).  Despite this obstacle, I did have great fun with the groupetto and Handel’s O sleep, why dost thou leave me? during the singing lesson I managed to slot into the weekend.  I did, however, begin to suspect that my singing teacher’s choice of breathing exercise was more designed to use the student as a human fan than prepare my body for the rigours that were to follow.

Hands were delivered from many places over the weekend.  There was some fine piano playing with Debussy in the mercifully air-conditioned Howard theatre and a rather toastier concert in Gallery 3 at the Fitzwilliam Museum over Sunday lunchtime.  There was also the laying on of hands as my massage therapist once again attempted to return my ageing body to some semblance of its lissome prime.  Once again, my actions – in this case the content of post 500 – generated some surprise: despite being clearly telegraphed (née promised).  The session also generated some rather fruitful ideas to work into my pursuit of dating excellence – of which more will follow in later posts – and a further challenge for me to take on: of which more in the paragraph which will shortly be arriving into platform 3A.

In the narrow vestibule where a chap awaits audience with his therapist is a modest range of reading material.  This comprises a sizeable joke book, a thinner volume on cycle maintenance (this is Cambridge, after all) and a very small selection of (now) rather aged magazines.  I felt that the magazine selection could usefully do with a refresh and it seems it is down to we, the clientele, to take this project in hand.  Ancient copies of Punch or Countrylife would be, frankly, too dull – so I have taken it upon myself to bring a more interesting offering each time I visit.  I am looking for the most obscure, limited readership, magazines possible.  These should have nothing at all to do with Cambridge or massage, but should be suitable for a family audience – I shall need my first example by early(ish) September, so a helping hand by way of a suggestion or two would be terribly useful…

All-in-all, a very enjoyable weekend – though one experiment should not be considered a success.  The weekend, as the week before it, was really rather hot.  As a result, I thought I would attempt a currently popular fad in an attempt to maintain my feet at a comfortable temperature.  I have noticed that many folk eschew the sock with their summer footwear – and I talk here not of the undeniably wise choice to ensure that sock and sandal are never seen dancing cheek-to-cheek.  No, I refer to the sock-less foot being ensconced in deck shoe, plimsoll or trainer.  So, despite my advanced age, I decided to attempt this myself and chose a canvas shoe (a pair, in fact) as my weapon of choice – feeling that the canvas would be more forgiving to my tender pedal extremities and would also allow them to breathe.  How wrong I was, terrible damage to the edges of my little toes and many a toe-knuckle quickly followed this brief flirtation with fashion.  I am left chastened, with a mild limp, and a new found respect for the humble sock and its important role in my life.  I’m not saying I will rush out and buy a darning mushroom, but never again will a mock a sock.  Huzzah for hosiery!

That D Day Ting

Look at me, going pretty street (or is it urban or fly?) for a middle-aged white guy.  You might wonder why I have adopted seriously out-dated youth patois in today’s title – or you might already be dreading the weak pun which will later rely on this obvious set-up.

I would also like to dispel any concerns you may have that I shall shortly be starting a European holiday in Normandy as part of a plan to purge much of the continent of Ms Merkel’s compatriots.

No, the title goes back much further than either of these red herrings – all the way to ancient Rome.  In those far off days, D referred to the number 500 – and this is GofaDM post number 500!  Feel free to imagine some sort of fanfare and/or firework extravaganza to celebrate this meaningless milestone.  Instead of these more traditional markers of a major event, I decided it was time to make good on a promise made way back in I did it!  Back then I promised a whole new direction for GofaDM, and there is some (implicit) pressure to make good on this promise before the latter half of tomorrow afternoon.

After my now famous striptease (though, teasing implies the audience wanted more and I was holding back – an implication which I think the audience would vehemently deny), conversation with my massage therapist went in interesting directions (it usually does).  Regular readers will know my lack of interest in gland games and, indeed, the rigmarole that tends to surround the quest to participate in gland games with a vaguely willing (or at least safely drunk) third party.  Somehow, during my massage session, the suggestion was mooted that I should start dating… other people (we’ll steer clear of the legal issues around other potential targets: animal, vegetable or mineral).  Perhaps my therapist felt that others should share in the suffering – a trouble shared and all that (though I believe, a trouble shared is a trouble doubled) – by inflicting my pseudo-amarous advances on other folk.

At this point, I should perhaps make clear that I have never really dated – it has always struck me as a somewhat arduous journey to an undesirable destination.  I believe that others have tried to date me, but I have always remained entirely oblivious to their apparent advances and have only discovered from a mutual acquaintance long after the event.  So, you might expect me to continue in similar vein and reject the proposal.  Normally, I would have done so but during conversation the idea of me dating did gain a certain, dare I say it, “irresistible” momentum.  This was not because the excellent debating skills of my therapist convinced me of the value of a “relationship” or of exchanging bodily fluids with another in a more intimate setting than that provided by the Royal Mail.  No, the conversation convinced me of the entertainment (neé comedy) value of inflicting me upon the world of romance – and, equally importantly, the excellent stream of potential content for GofaDM that my new career as a gigolo would be bound to generate.  I owe it to you, my readership, to hurl myself body-and-soul into the world of dating – based on my rather limited knowledge, it could do with someone vaguely competent to take it in hand: and I could be that chap.

There are some issues surrounding the launch of this process – which the fact that it has taken more than five months since the teaser trailer to this my robust commitment – not least of which is the time commitment required from your truly – but, I am determined to make it work (eventually).

My understanding of the process is that as a first step, one needs to choose the gender which one is going to pursue.  Lacking an interest in gland games, I don’t really have a natural preference – I have friends in both camps – but feel that it would probably be bad form to date people of both genders in parallel (I’m sure such activities should be pursued serially – if at all).  In theory, I know slightly more about men (being one) which might make them an easier option in the first instance – though this would involve a somewhat smaller pool of potential victims (which could be a downside).  If readers would care to suggest the better gender to tackle first, I am open to suggestions while feeling completely free to ignore them.

Having selected an initial target gender, I should perhaps prepare a dating “profile” which can serve to advertise my many (assumed) merits to my victims and interest them in encountering them (my merits) live: “in the flesh” as ’twere.  Whilst, I can clearly be somewhat economical with the truth in this profile (as I believe is entirely normal), this blog will somewhat limit my room to be too fantastical.  Still, I feel the drafting of my profile can usefully provide the meat of a future blog post (or series thereof) – with potential opportunities for audience participation!

Ultimately, I will have to manage the physical process of “the date” – but there is a plenty of time to prepare that later.  Well, unless readers of GofaDm suddenly start throwing themselves at me – in which case, I may have to re-prioritise and work on (or “create”) my dating skills rather sooner.

Exciting times for planet earth, I think we can all agree – though readers should feel free to lock up their sons or daughters (or parents) as a precaution, if they are concerned about this late arrival to the dating ball. 

I did it!

Some of you may have doubted that I would go through with it (I know at least one person who did) but having come up with the idea there was no way I wasn’t going to carry it through to completion. I am committed to the integrity of this blog!

As background, I should mention that I am back in Cambridge for a couple of days, ostensibly to give my blood for the use of others (in exchange for biscuits) but in reality to renew auld acquaintance (with both people and places}. Blood safely given yesterday afternoon, this morning I treated myself to the traditional post exsanguination massage.

Some may recall one of the finest posts to this blog (in many ways, a critical triumph) which referred to the last such session. If not, you may wish to remind yourself as to why I shouldn’t work with the public. Here, after some discussion as to why my massage therapist averted his eyes while I disrobed, I promised at the next session I would strip to suitable musical accompaniment. This was no idle threat, with the aid of some research, YouTube, an iPad and a 3G phone I arranged what I consider to be the traditional music to be used while stripping to play whilst I divested myself of my clothing. I tried to make something of the act of stripping – and certainly having the music helps to set the right frame of mind. I retained my scarf, to substitute for the more traditional boa, and tried to bring an (in)appropriate degree of sensuality and louche abandon to the act of undressing. I like to think I pulled it off – though I like to think if I ever perform the act professionally it will be accompanied by less laughter. Actually, I think I might have a real talent for stripping, and this coupled with my gymnastic training (the looser hips were definitely a plus) and buff middle-aged bod might open up a whole new career as a Chippendale (or at the very least, a Chesterfield)!

Apparently, I was the first client who had ever performed thus for my therapist – and despite the published threat, it was rather unexpected. Still, I’ve known my therapist for several years – so it can’t have come as a complete surprise. I understand from the lawyers that after only a few months of counselling the nightmares and screaming should cease and a resumption of a normal life is a definite possibility (for my therapist, for me there is clearly no hope).

I have attached a link to the music, if any readers wish to imagine the event. For one (un)lucky reader, the challenge will be stopping the memories resurfacing in series of erotic PTSD-style flashbacks

Of course, I am now wondering how I can top this opening at my next session in a scant 10 weeks time. Any suggestions considered…

Perhaps unsurprisingly, after this opening the remainder of the session took a somewhat unusual course (conversationally, the massage itself was as professional as ever). This conversation will lead to more posts and might take GofaDM in an exciting new direction with new opportunities for reader participation. Watch this space…

Why I shouldn’t work with the public…

Before the post proper begins, we need two disclaimers.

  1. I am a very childish man – and I do realise that the current popular stereotype (when is the 3D version coming?) would suggest that whilst “childish” is an adjective it does very little to limit the scope of the noun “man”.
  2. I was asked not to write this post – but GofaDM will not be silenced!

Now, on with the motley!

Yesterday morning, I went for one of my periodic bouts of massage therapy in a vain (in at least two senses of the word) attempt to maintain my ageing body in some sort of fighting form.  It is also an attempt to delay the day on which I become a burden on the already over-stretched resources of the NHS.

The first order of business as a client is to disrobe to allow the therapist fairly full access to my flesh.  As I did this, I was struck – oddly for the first time – that my therapist rather obviously averted his (or her) gaze as my body was slowly revealed from the layers of clothing keeping the winter chill at bay.  Clearly, this was meant as a courtesy – to spare my blushes as my flesh was laid, quite literally, bare – but its absurdity suddenly became clear.  The instant after I stripped, I hopped up onto the cushioned bench (table?) provided and the therapist was forced to look upon my (almost) nakedness in order to apply his (or her) healing hands (and elbows) to render some basic repairs.

I also felt that this gaze-aversion could be taken as somewhat of an insult, surely my body was not so revolting that any viewer would attempt to minimise their exposure.  I like to imagine that I’m in pretty good shape for a man who will soon have to wave 47 goodbye – if not buff, then at least taupe or manila.  Were I of a less confident (née brazen) disposition, this “courtesy” could leave my delicate body-image crushed.  I found myself pondering (aloud) alternative approaches that could be taken.  Perhaps the therapist could watch the unveiling and make suitably appreciative comments as various areas where exposed – praising a well-turned ankle or finely honed acromion process?  This does after all count as complementary therapy (a pun that works better spoken or delivered by someone with poorer spelling).  OK, that isn’t really what I really thought.  What I actually said was that perhaps a well-timed wolf-whistle would be appropriate; or maybe just an exclamation of “Wow!”.  For the less well-honed physique, the therapist might require an arsenal of neutral but complimentary sounding phrases – such as those beloved of actor’s for use on a friends’ disastrous opening night:”Darling, what can I say?” might work – as but a single example.

I fear I then allowed my mind to wander and proposed that a well-prepared therapist would have suitable stripping music available to be played during the disrobement.  Make the process more of a feature of the session, rather than a mildly embarrassing aperitif.  I suppose the well-prepared client would bring his (or her) own music – something I have only just considered, but will now definitely be doing next time.

I have to say that none of my ideas were received with much approbation.  Most were considered inappropriate and likely to at best lose clients and at worst result in physical violence or a court case.  I found this a very disappointing response to what I still consider very valuable business development advice.  However, I fear the perceived quality of my advice may have been weakened by the fact that it reduced me (if no-one else} to tears of laughter.  My therapist was good enough to stare at me during some of my re-dressing process, but I didn’t feel his (or her) heart was fully in it – though I nonetheless enjoyed the attention!  When it came to time to pay for my therapy, I did feel the strange desire to stick the used twenties into a waist-band – which even I will admit was inappropriate and perhaps slightly confusing the relationship, but I think might encourage heavier tipping.

Given the above, I feel the title requires no further explanation and that I should continue in a b2b role – preferably conducted remotely using modern telecommunications technology


I fear that after wearing a hat (which I do de temps en temps to protect myself from the blazing Cambridgeshire sun), my earlier use of the milliner’s art is obvious for quite some time.  This is not as a result of any disruption to the styling of my barnet (though this can happen), but down to the impression of the brim which remains etched into my forehead. Certainly, the mark left by the liner of my cycle shorts where they grip my sturdy thews can remain visible for well over an hour.  My belief is that this is caused by the declining elasticity of my ageing skin – though it’s possible that even in the first flush of my youth such marks might have endured for similar periods (sadly, our current understanding of temporal mechanics precludes the testing of this particular hypothesis).

I have also reached the stage where it is far more pleasing to shave without wearing my glasses – so many more illusions can remain un-shattered with the slightly softer focus that my uncorrected vision offers.

Whilst my vanity does run to dyeing my hair and a bit of exercise, I’m not letting members of the medical profession (and by extension, any other profession – it would be odd to forbid a surgeon but happily allow a milkman) near my body with a knife unless it is absolutely surgically necessary (and I will be demanding quite a high standard of proof).  As a result, the surgical facelift is not for me – so my face will slowly succumb to the ravages of time.

However, I think I may have found a short-term, non-surgical option.  As I have alluded to before, I enjoy (perhaps in a slightly masochistic sense) a massage on a semi-regular basis – and today my back was getting the “treatment”.  This involves the subject (me) lying face down on a padded bench, with my face resting above a small hole in the bench which permits breathing.  The hole is quite small and holds the edges of my face fairly fixed, while the weight of the head (plus any pressure being applied to the body by the masseur) presses down over the course of an hour.  This tautens the skin of the face very effectively – or so it feels – and this effect seems to endure for a while after release from durance vile.  Surely, a portable version could be developed for use before a close-up or other occasions when a wrinkle-free visage would be a boon?

Talking of wrinkles, during the week I read of research into the wrinkling which our fingers undergo when left immersed in water for an extended period.  Apparently, a scientist is proposing that this is an evolutionary adaptation to improve our grip in the wet (rather like the tread on a tyre).  The really interesting fact though, was that if the nerves to a finger are severed then it does not come to resemble a prune, however long it is left in the bath.  I’ve been trying to find a way to shoehorn this fact into a post for a while, but somehow just when I think I have a hold on it, it eludes my grasp.  Perhaps I just need a long soak in a hot tub…

Morality Tale

Today’s story concerns a once great sportsman who has fallen on hard times as his life moves into its final years.  He is living in a small flat in an anonymous town, and his one joy in life is a shelf on which are displayed all the medals and trophies from his earlier, illustrious career.  Then, one day, disaster strikes and the shelf collapses – though luckily the sporting memorabilia suffers little damage.

Our hero takes this as a sign and decides to sell his momentos.  The sale nets a surprisingly large amount of money, many tens of thousands of pounds, but rather than keeping the proceeds and improving his lifestyle, our hero gives all the money to charity. Truly, an act of shelf-less generosity.

The inspiration for this improving tale came to me as I lay in agony while my masseur did something unspeakable to my IT bands (part of my leg, rather than my PC) and I noticed the two screws projecting forlornly out of the wall, bereft of shelf.  “Let’s share this pain with others”, thought I – and so now I have!