Nurse! The Screens. (PG18)
26 February 2020
Its been a tough week here in Penang. Plan A had been to sail the sixty miles down here, park the boat in the marina, get my missing molar fixed and sail back to Langkawi. Simpls.
Unfortunately I then spent much too long looking at weather GRIBs. If I got my skates on, it seemed I’d get down there OK but, according to the outlook, the way back would be a motor fest. And you know I don’t like burning fuel. That and the last time we anchored in Penang we had two nights from Hell bouncing and slapping around for hours and hours, all night long in wind over tide. And so, I made the decision to go with Plan B, leave the boat in Langkawi and late on Sunday found myself on the afternoon fast ferry to Penang. Fortunately I’d been watching these ferries come and go and having seen the boats’ gunwhales strung with air con units, as a precaution, I packed a fleece and a Buff. And just as well. It was perishing. Thirty five degrees outside. Ice box inside.
Three hours later me and the rest of the chittering, blue lipped travellers stepped into the welcoming embrace of Penang’s late afternoon heat. Thawed out, I made it to the hotel, a quick kip and by 09:00 next morning, horizontal on the dentist chair and invited back that evening for what turned out to be a marathon two hours forty minutes root canal job. Fortunately I’d taken my iPhone and I spent those hours trying to focus hard on the last weeks news from the BBC podcast at the same time drowning out the noise of Ms Dentist digging around in my cavity.
In the end, it wasn’t that painful and next day, as a reward, I thought I’d treat myself to a massage. Another massage in fact. At less than ten quid a go out here, you just can’t get too many massages. We’d only just been the previous week with Dave and Linda up in Thailand. The original plan had been to go for a swim so I’d worn a pair of knee length swimming shorts i.e. “commando” and so, when it came time to disrobe I was a bit embarrassed at having to explain my absence of underwear. However, as with all masseuse, the girl was ever so discreet and professional and deftly waved around a towel as expertly as a Spanish matador and not a hint of naughty flesh was exposed.
And so, back in Penang, post dentist, if that’s not a pun, having spotted a massage shop just round from the hotel, I waltzed in and asked for an oil massage. “No problem, come this way” and I was shepherded past the rows of reflexology couches, through into a dimly lit, red velour corridor with curtained off treatment “rooms”.
Knowing the routine, after the quite attractive masseuse had left and pulled the screens shut, I stripped to my underpants and lay face down on the bed. A few minutes later she came back, oiled her hands and started on the now familiar routine; quick overall oiling, shoulders then lower back. At that point, it’s quite normal for the masseuse to pull one’s pants down an inch or three so as not to get oil onto your pant’s waistband. Normal that was right up until my pants passed my knees and she just whipped my pants clean off. “Whoa” I thought. “No modesty towel” but she set to work again, unfazed, doing all the usual stuff.......while I focused intently on the details of my root canal treatment.
Once done with my back she says to turn over. Expecting the towel to now make an appearance and be discretely draped over my modesty, I spin over onto my front only to find myself lying on the slab, with only the light draught from the air con to cover me. So, while I’m now intently concentrating on recalling how the dentist had to cut away part of my gum in order for the new crown to have something to bond to she says, “You wan’ massage?” while at the same time, tapping Captain Midnight to clearly emphasise her meaning.
“Whoa. Wait a minute!!!” Instantly, flashbacks of tabloid headlines and photos of handcuffed gentry and politicians being hauled out of Glasgow’s dodgy massage parlours came to mind. I tried to process all this as quickly as I could but as she obviously realised my mind was necessarily elsewhere, anywhere but there, if you get my drift, she repeats, “You wan’ massage?” tapping John Thomas once again to make it patently clear she wasn’t talking about reflexology.
Somewhat taken aback and confused as to whether I was in Glasgow as part of a Tabloid sting or in a reasonably touristy part of Penang, I politely declined her kind offer.
With a shrug and a kind of “well, suit yourself” look she gave me a final towel down, said thanks, drew back the screens and vanished into the red velvet gloom. I quickly jumped up, grabbed my pants, had a quick look around for any blinking red LEDs from the imagined blackmail video camera and hot footed it out to reception where I quickly paid my fifty five Ringits........and made an appointment for Friday.