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Jojo is my favourite New York masseuse, and I just came back from a gorgeous hour under her strong warm hands. Luca and I have taken to regular massages (he has been known to go twice in one weekend!); we only need walk 200 yards to the nearest spas – several within 2 blocks of each other - which is one definite upside of city life. Day and night, up to and beyond midnight in some places. All legit, be assured: I’m amused every time I read the notice in Garden Spa where Jojo works which says ‘no hankypanky’. Aren’t you glad about that?!

Most of the massage parlours in Manhattan are served by Chinese women, and many of them barely speak English. Their hands speak for them, of course! But Jojo has relatively good language so I can ask her to spend more time on my legs, or not to do stretches (I hate it when they push my limbs about in a supposed ‘stretch’ with no regard for the limits of function and pain), or we talk a little about our families or ailments or whatever. She has a phenomenal strength in her fingers if you ask for it, which I experienced just the once; since the bruising first time I get her to tone it down to a more sensitive touch and that suits me just fine. Hot stones without charge, aromatic oils extra. Buy ten, get one free: that will be my treat next time, just in time for my birthday.

The music in the room is always the same. I cannot work out why a honkytonk piano could ever be conceived to be a good way to offer relaxing music, but I have got used to it and now I kinda feel my massage experience would lack something without it. Amazing Grace and Greensleeves both try hard to remain disguised under the flamboyant fingers of the pianist; a number of more unremarkable tunes are fancied up with grand pianistic flourishes, but the instrument is tinny and it is just a little out of tune. It is almost banal enough to be able to ignore, but just annoying enough to penetrate my awareness and keep me awake on the table.

Is it possible to be relaxed and energised at the same time? That is how I feel right now, and just about ready for bed.



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