I wasn't sure about it. I'm not fussed about being pampered and handled. For instance, I'm in and out of hairdressers as quick as I can be. If I can get away with a dry trim and just enough time to say hello, goodbye and 'You want HOW much?' I will. I'm not at my happiest sitting in front of a mirror, gawping at my own image for an hour. It distorts my perspective of myself.
It's like when you write out the same sentence many times, as if doing lines at school. Write it once: 'I must not run in school corridors.' It looks normal the first time. By the time you've written it fifty times, the words seem surreal, unfamiliar. 'Are they real words? Is corridors really spelled that way?'
In the same way, if I stare at my own face for longer than necessary, what started off vaguely acceptable ends up like a hall-of-mirrors image and me wondering if my parents were first cousins.
I prefer to scurry past mirrors quickly. Blur is the menopausal woman's best friend, as is a steamed-up bathroom cabinet.
Or one of the mirrors they had in medieval times - just a piece of shiny steel hung on a nail that reflects nothing whatsoever and leaves you ignorant of the clutch of spots that has erupted on your chin, pulsating and throbbing like billy-oh and measuring 6 on the Richter scale as you shop at the market for turnips and beetroot.
I like the mirror that's in our hall. My husband, eight inches taller than I am, hung it on the wall by the front door when we first moved here without asking me to check the height. Consequently, all I can see in it is my forehead and the top of my hair. If I want to see any more, I have to stand on the stairs.
I don't, though, want to see any more.
Back to the pedicure. I sat with my feet in warm, bubbly water for twenty minutes: a slightly unusual feeling, as though one's toes are continually breaking wind in the bath. I can't believe people voluntarily sit in hot tubs having their whole bodies simmered in this way AND accompanied by other people, as though in a human stew.
Then the nail-trimming. As the pedicurist reached for a dainty pair of nail clippers that were surely for newborns, I realised I should have mentioned that some of my nails are affected by psoriasis. The young woman was a third my age and a third my size, and I doubt she'd encountered nails like mine before - so thick and tough I'm the envy of every rhino in town. Elegant and flawless, she was, but wrestling with my toenails as though fighting off an attacker made the veins in her neck bulge and I swear I saw a blood vessel burst in her eye.
I explained about the psoriasis. 'I'm so sorry,' I said.
'It's fine,' she said, which is pedicurist for 'I need a pair of industrial pliers and a new career.'
|Fortunately, Fran's hall mirror was placed too high for her to see her feet every morning|
My piece de resistance was having arrived for the pedicure in socks and winter shoes. My daughter-in-law, not a pedicure virgin like me, had sensibly worn open-toed sandals.
This meant that I could only have one coat of nail varnish, otherwise it was never going to dry in time for me to re-sock. I would have had to sit bare-foot on one of the salon's sofas before I could leave, working my way through fourteen copies of Hello magazine from 2012 about the weddings of celebrities who have since divorced and remarried other unsuitable people.
There was no way I was staying in that salon any longer than necessary, having dislocated the shoulder and elbow joints of an unsuspecting pedicurist.
I agreed I'd settle for the one coat of varnish and a quick exit. I did consider asking for a discount, as I'd only had one coat.
But I opted for good will. Her emergency physio wouldn't be cheap.