Saturday 20 March 2010

I Made My Mother Have A Turkısh Massage for my website for the latest on the A Graceful Death exhıbıtıon now ın Bırmıngham tıll 28 March to email me

I Made My Mum Aged 80 Have A Turkısh Massage

I am in Turkey. To prove it here are some Turkısh letters on my keyboard. ö ç ş ğ. Excited? Good.

I am on my first SAGA holiday. I hope it is the first of many, I cannot fault them at all for the care and attention they give to us, and I am not even elligible for SAGA. Not until after August this year and I wıll be 50. I am though, accompanied by a real proper oldie so one has called the National Guard yet. My gracious and stately mother who is 80 in a few weeks time has taken me on this holiday, and has made sure we are in a hotel that has round the clock nosh and not just a bit of it, Oh No. This layout is as if a space the size of a small airport hanger has been lovingly given over to a Lavish and Luxurious Display Of Food. We are encouraged to have a small meal followed by another 12 followed by a snack. It is possible that someone over ordered on the Provisions and unless it all gets eaten, someone will get the sack. "They are old" the assembled Hotel Staff say at the weekly management meetings, "make them eat till they pop and they will go wıth a smile on their faces". There is general murmerıng of assent and the Man Who Over Ordered mops his brow with a hanky. Another crisis averted. For now.

So. I booked Mum and me into a Turkish bath and bubble massage yesterday. Come On Mum, I said - Live A Little. Mum looked politely curious and said, Do You Think So?

At 3pm we went in our robes to the Spa Centre to meet our Masseurs. Previously, we had had a tour of the massage area, and were pleased to note that it all took place in a heated luxurious marble and tiled room of palacial dımensions and it looked as if we were going to be sorted out together on a large marble slab to take two. We had agreed to have men to massage us "Much Better He Stronger" said the tough blonde Russıan receptionist. As the time approached 3pm I imagined our Much Stronger Men limbering up in the steam rooms, oiling each others muscles and flicking each other with wet towels and doing press ups over vats of boiling water. So when Mother and I got to the reception, we were met with two young Turkish lads in loincloths and smiles. We were taken with smiles and much head nodding to the Sauna where we were left to steam before the Real Stuff, whatever that was, began. Mother and I were given two tiny cotton stripey Turkish Things to wrap round us, which we did and the fun began. As the Young Turks in Loincloths left us in the sauna, mother began to get nervous. But This Is Not Turkish, she shouted as they left, It Is Swedish!

After 10 minutes, they came to get us and Mother was led one way and I another in the marbled extra heated Slapping Around Room and I could hear her asking complicated questions about his family to her Young Turk In A Loincloth knowing that he couldn´t speak any English. That is when I had to say to myself that Mother was a grown up and could fend for herself. She was obviously near to panic.

My Turk gestured that I should lie on my back on the marble slab and so I did. I closed my eyes as I was only wearing knickers and a Cotton Turkish Thing and wasn´t feeling quite so chipper as I had when booking this massage. I had a bucket of hot water thrown over me, followed by another and many more. My Young Turk put on his Scrubbıng Gloves and exfoliated me to within an inch of my life. Yes, a bloke has different ideas of Gently Scrubbing. It was generally pleasant but sometimes I wanted a cup of tea and a small break. By that time I was only wearing knickers but the whole experience was so bizzarre that I didn`t give it too much of a thought. Then! The Bubbles! I could hear Mum squeakıng somewhere nearby and knew she was still alive but probably having herself bubbled as never before. My Turk, bless him, got a huge vat of warm scented bubbles and lathered me from a Bubble Bag like a car wash. And into this bubbly mass he dived and started the massage. Ouch. It was severe and very slippery and very effective. It was almost anonymous as the bubbles took over and even when I opened my eyes all I could see were bubbles and some hands re arranging my muscles. It was into this melee that my sweet young Turk said, spittıng the bubbles from his mouth, "Oh you are so young, you are 30 yes?" Maybe his training tells him all floppy old English women need this kind of talk. I should have said "Yes actually, 30 this year" but I spluttered "50" and then "eeek" as he twisted my foot into my shoulder blades. Not to be put off he said "Your husband he must be very lucky you are so beautiful" to which the accurate answer would have been "I haven´t seen my husband in years, he is an absolute nutter. And though I have a very nice gentleman friend I am not married to him but yes, he thinks I´ll do. Now put my arm back in it´s socket there´s a nice fellow" but I didn´t. I said in a jolly This Procedure Is Not Getting The Better Of Me voice "Yes. Isn´t he?"

Soon I was requested to sit on the edge of the marble slab while Loincloth Man poured buckets of cold water over his head (he must have been so exhausted and hot. The marble slabs and the floors were heated too) and then poured some over me. I hate hate hate cold water so that didn´t go down at all well. Never one to give up, he poured instead about 10 buckets of warm water over my head and got a bar of white carbolic looking soap and having lathered up, bubbled my hair, head and face. I sat there being lathered almost in the nude, by an Turkish man in a soakıng loincloth (and yes, I looked, nothing else). This, I thought, is how a toddler feels at bath time. This ıs how a door step felt after a 1950s housewife scrubbed it with a scrubbing brush and a bucket of soapy water. After the lathering and after many more thousands of buckets of warm water, I was wrapped up and led to the resting area. There was Mother, lying wrapped in white towels and not movıng. She´s dead, I thought. A small voice came from the towels that was my mother and said "Where were the bubbles? I thought there were bubbles". I didn´t ask what they did to her, but I think they may have spared her most of the lathering.

After this came the aromatherapy massage. I didn´t recognise my Turk with his clothes on (ha ha, but spookily true) but an hour later I slithered up to my room, oiled and sliding along the floor, red from the scrubbing and my hair like Rod Stewarts from the carbolic - looking soap massage bubble treatment. Yes, I should have said when he bowed me out, who looks 30 now? Who is beautiful now? I look like I have had electric shock treatment and a frontal lobotomy and been sent up to recover in my room.

There was a SAGA gala dinner later on that evening. Both Mother and I had to leave early due to our tingling skn and the fact that we kept sliding off our chairs.

More tomorrow.

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