As a farewell present, Dr Tabubil too me out for a pedicure. I had never been to a spa before and my word - I can't believe I spent thirty years missing out on such a hedonistic experience!
It goes like this:
You are sent to wait for your "therapist" in the Tranquility Room. The lights are dim, soft violin music plays out of hidden speakers, and the walls are lined by enormous wicker armchairs upholstered in something soft and squashy and velvet. Half of the armchairs are occupied by blitzed out humans in soft brown robes. They have unfocused edges - as if they've been massaged and rubbed so long that their edges are blurred - they're still vibrating to a happy cosmic resonance frequency.
The chairs ooze - invitingly. Sit in me, they seem to say. I am comfy like you have never known before. Three enormous candles flicker against the far wall, and you are softly invited to drink the house herbal tea blend in the glass teapot, resting on a flickering, candlelit samovar.
The light is very dim indeed, so when you pour yourself a cup you overshoot the teapot and pour tea all over your hand. Fortunately the candle-powered samovar has no heating power worth mentioning, so the shower is barely lukewarm.
You pour again, and take a sip and gasp and choke and scrabble for the pitcher of water and drink and drink and drink and stuff your mouth with tic-tacs and collapse, heaving, into the armchair next to Dr Tabubil. She is fascinated.
"Don't drink the tea." you rasp.
"Uh huh." She says, enthralled. "You're exaggerating." And she gets up, and walks over to the ledge to pour herself a cup.
I will cherish until I die the memory of the following fifteen seconds. There is a clanking noise as she drops the cup, her mouth works like a goldfish and then she seems to stretch and doppler in the flickering light as she lunges across the room, her fingers flexing madly as she groped for the tic-tacs that are still three feet away from her.
I think we were good entertainment. And that tea tasted like a glass of highly astringent sick. There are no words.
Fortunately, about the moment that Dr Tabubil was sucking on her own life-saving mouthful of peppermint, our therapists arrived.
I was led to another dim room, and seated on a chair only slightly less sybaritic than the big wicker armchair outside, and asked to step my feet into a silver basin filled with milky, scented water. Seated cross legged on the floor, a divine goddess washed my feet and ankles with creamy unguents, dried them with a cobweb cloth and led me over to a divan. Over the next hour she rubbed and scrubbed and rasped and buffed and soothed and smoothed and massaged and painted my toenails in bright scarlet and far too soon, led me back, blitzed and beatific, to the Tranquility Room.
I would like this again please. Regularly.