Thursday, 31 March 2011

When it's too hot for a suit

My tailor friends at A Suit That Fits (that's a sponsored link, costs you nothing, I get loyalty points for click-throughs) have been designing again. The summer is coming and Mighel Critten, after a sweltering season last year, has come up with a cotton suit.

He doesn't wear the trousers. They ended up looking a bit too much like pyjamas, he says. The jacket and waistcoat, though, he's happy with.

He looks pretty good in it. This is for two reasons. First the suit is designed around him as you'd expect from any tailoring service - but more importantly he's young and has a frame bordering on "wiry", certainly on the slim side.

That's why I won't be getting one, and why I can't honestly recommend it to anyone with a build like mine (think "really must go on that diet sometime"). I do have an unstructured jacket at home - in other words it has no lining or padding so it sits exactly on my frame, hanging more like a tee-shirt.

It's not a flattering look. It is not good on me, it is bad and ugly - emphasising all the wrong bits. Charles Tyrwhitt had an unstructured jacket in the catalogue a while back and the blurb said, euphemistically, that if you were lucky enough to be blessed with an athletic frame this would look marvellous on you.

Ahem. Very few of us have, particularly after gravity's had a go at any muscle structure we might have neglected over a period of time.

Other tailors feel strongly about cotton. "It will crease immediately and you will like you’ve been dragged through a hedge within the hour. There are plenty of viable (and more affordable) options out there if you do your homework," says Adam King of Surbiton-based King and Allen (not a sponsored link by the way). He suggests wool/cashmere blends (although the cheaper ones can be scratchy so either get a swatch or visit a tailor and have a good feel of the fabric first) or a mohair. He also suggests mohair, and watch the lining. "Ideally it should be made from 100% natural fibres. Manmade fibres do not breathe as well and cause sweating," he says. Light grey is a good summer colour, he adds. There are also specific summery fabrics - King recommends the Holland and Sherry CrispAir range, although it's not cheap at £799 for a suit compared to the £499 the company would charge for something in a "cool wool".

Then there's linen. I have a couple of linen suits, one of which is only part lined (I bought mine last August from A Suit That Fits but King and Allen has also offered a similar half-lined idea for almost a year, ask for the Dragonfly Lining). This is cool enough and in a good dark blue it looks pretty good as well, hanging right over the chest and shoulders and since it's tailored it has all the nips and tucks needed to keep me looking lifelike. The other one is also tailored and looks fine, but it has a full lining so isn't as cool - and I don't wear the trousers because, wait for it, I went and ordered a pale linen suit. You have to have a certain whatsit to carry that look off, and "expanded waistline" is 100 per cent the wrong shape.

I'd be interested to hear what other men do in the summer for a formal meeting when an ordinary suit is just too hot.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Watching the watches for Japan

Evening all - only time for a quick post today, but when the Watch Shop told me it was selling the pictured Casio model for £30 and donating £15 from every sale to Japan, I thought it only right to draw attention to it.

There's a ladies' sports watch for £20 here, and the same 50/50 split between the company and Japan applies. There will be new packaging on both of the watches to reflect the charitable nature of the purchase.

The public relations firm promoting the idea tells me that donations will go straight to the Red Cross in order to ensure they get exactly where they're needed rather than through one of the newer organisations striving to help Japan at the moment. Manufacturer Casio is of course headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, where it's all been happening. Personally this isn't something I'd be buying as the watch isn't to my tastes; if you feel the same but are a bit inspired by Watch Shop's action and want to donate, here's a direct link to the Red Cross one-off donations page.

Don't feel restricted to fifteen quid if you can afford more - and do click the "Gift Aid" box so that your donation will increase without costing you extra.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Baldness and ageing: stop trying to cure us

I've been approached by a PR whose client offers cures for baldness. And I keep seeing adverts for anti-ageing creams and preparations, for men as well as women - it's no longer a single sex thing. So I thought I'd explain why you're not going to see reviews or write-ups about them on this blog.

Flickr: Joelk75
Let me preface this by saying I don't link the pressure young women come under to conform to a particular body shape, usually an unhealthily thin one, to the commercial pressure on middle-aged blokes. We have a walk in the park compared to the harmful stresses some sections of the media put on younger members of the opposite sex.

But there are pressures nonetheless, and I'm going to state my view: ageing and baldness are not illnesses. There is therefore no cure which is either feasible or desirable.

I should qualify that a bit. There are illnesses which can lead to baldness, there are conditions whose cure causes hair loss and of course premature ageing is something which can have medical roots. All of these are grounds for treatment and medical investigation.

But the ordinary ageing process, the reason my hair is changing colour and my skin tone and texture doesn't have the same structure it did 20 years ago, is a perfectly natural thing. It happens to everyone and I refuse to attempt any "cures".

Yes you can take this to extremes. I shave, I get my hair cut and use a bit of hair clay in it, I put clothes on, I have central heating and live with a roof over my head. None of these things are natural, I understand that. But attempting to hold back the changes that come with time is to me a denial of who I am.

And anyway, men trying to reverse the ageing process end up looking stupid. A bit of moisturiser can actually make skin more comfortable and protect it from the sun, but skin tones change with time - the colour fades a bit, like it or not. This is where hair dyes don't help; try to preserve your original colour (no, not your "natural" colour, my natural colour at the moment is dark flecked with grey, I don't have to dye it to get to that) and it no longer matches the rest of you. The colour rarely works, too; check Sir Paul McCartney's barnet. I bow to no-one in my admiration of the ex-Beatle but if he can't look convincing with the money he has at his disposal I suspect it can't be done (a hairdresser once confirmed this to me - to get an even colour they have to strip out any remaining darkness then re-colour the lot, and after a few washes it starts to go orange).

A short while ago I was reading an article by Dame Joan Bakewell in which she said looks don't fade as you get older, they just change. I couldn't agree more. Granted, ageing kills you in the end but it's honestly not a clinical malaise and neither are the alterations it brings.

So you won't be reading about baldness cures on this blog. I'm all for curing illnesses, but I have several bald friends and they're perfectly well, thanks.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Scent of a man - 2

First my gripe. My favourite male scent has been discontinued. You can still get it if you shop around and I have an almost-full bottle just obtained at great expense through Amazon, but Dunhill Edition is no more. They have a waiting list at their upmarket shops for people who want it. Guys, if you have a waiting list it was probably worth keeping going for a while.

It's a very distinctive eau de toilette that I've been using on and off since the 1980s. Very fresh, spicy and woody, it hasn't (to my mind) dated and discontinuing it is very unwise.

I shall start a campaign. I suspect nobody will pay any attention. Meanwhile a modern spin on the theme is the pretty-much-evergreen Armani Code. Bergamot, lemon, notes of tobacco without having to stink of ciggies - it's quite complex, subtle and my wife loves it. Ditto another firm favourite, the get-a-mortgage-first Acqua de Parma Colonia, of which I was recently given a bottle when I wouldn't accept payment for a tiny bit of consultancy. Very citrussy, mellowing out to violets by the end of the day, it's not surprising they revived this after years of discontinuing it (Dunhill could take a bit of a hint there).

Citrus fans could also look out for Orange Vert by Hermes. This is on offer from Amazon at the moment so you'll pay twenty-odd for this light, zesty scent which is completely distinctive; it's just a pity it doesn't last a bit longer into the day but during the summer this is one of the best. Another with a shot of zing is the new Burberry Sport Ice, which I've been trying out and which came out last month; a lot of ginger and mandarin in this one, which is a little clinical smelling for my taste if I'm honest. A lot of people who've been around me assure me it's great. Must be just me, then.

Mostly this year and last I've been wearing the Armani Code, but I'm also fond of Loewe Solo (not the intense version). This is classy, a little musky and I haven't come across anything quite like it on the market. Recommended.

But not as much as Dunhill Edition. Of which, I suspect, I have my last bottle.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The scent of a man 1

So a short while ago I said I'd be blogging on eau de toilette, aftershave, that sort of thing. And I've had a few samples in - too many to bore you with at a single sitting.

Here's the first batch, then. Starting with the rather upmarket Versace Pour Homme (pictured). We're talking long-lasting fragrance, clean notes of bergamot and citrus morphing into woody musk as the day continues.

Not entirely dissimilar and indeed similarly wallet-tightening is the one I'm wearing today, Loewe Solo Intense. If you know Loewe Solo (one of my favourites) then you can guess what a less subtle, less musky version would smell like. This is another one that goes on all day and either I've put too much on or it's getting just a little cloying.

By the way these are eaux de toilette rather than aftershaves. The difference is that a true aftershave should do something to heal the skin after the shaving process, which is why one of my favourites of the moment is Muhler Sea Buckthorn. Yes it smells fresh but it's actually more of a moisturiser than a scent, the smell goes away quite quickly and just leaves you feeling refreshed.

My barber at The Valet put me onto that one and it's one of the better moisturisers I've found. Equally he put me onto Taylor's of old Bond Street Victorian Lime cologne. At £18 it's more reasonable than the more upmarket brands I've favoured before (although we'll have more on those in the next post, I still have my favourites among them), it smells of limes as it says on the bottle and if there's a fault with it then it's that it's too discreet - subtlety is one thing but compared to several of the others I use it's the one I have to top up a bit later in the day. You pays your money...

Finally today there's Molton Brown Black Pepper Recharge. This matches the same company's shower gel of the same name perfectly, and if you use the shower gel (it's very popular) you might as well buy the eau de toilette as well, the gel's going to clash with everything else - although if you use the gel you might not need the edt as it's fairly overpowering as a scent in its own right.

Next post: Hermes, Armani nand why I'm annoyed with Dunhill.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Designing suits with A Suit That Fits

So I've been out playing - my regular suit makers, A Suit That Fits (sponsored link, I get loyalty points for click-throughs but they cost the clicker nothing), had a few journalists and bloggers in, playing with suit design. None of your computerised stuff this time around - we had pencils, we had paper.

There were some good ideas on display by the time we'd finished. Mine were on the conservative (small "c") side. This blog is for males who don't want to look like a walking mid-life crisis and who've reached the age at which "young' is a memory rather than a reality. So I stuck with the classic suit outline, notched collar, dark blue birdeye material for a bit of texture and because it folds well when you move about. I put a velvet collar on for a bit of fun - this is a "going out" suit rather than something for business, a touch of John Steed for us mid-lifers. One of the staff knew what I was talking about when I said that; the other one, when I said it was supposed to be a bit Avengers, probably assumed I was going to dress up as Captain America.

I included silver striped lining so there's something good to notice when you whip the jacket off - if you're designing a suit never forget the lining. Two vents in the back because a single vent or no vent isn't very flattering on a larger bloke (euphemism alert there). Trousers with belt hoops rather than attachments for braces, a back pocket and definitely no turnups on the leg (my instinct is that these are going to take a long time to recover from their moment in the sun during the 1980s). I put in working butons on the cuff as another little detail people will notice if they're checking your style out.

I call it the "LifeOver35 suit", imaginatively, and if you're inspired to buy it made to measure you can - here's the link, all you have to do is add measurements. That's not a sponsored link, I get nothing whether you buy or not - working on the principal that nobody will.

As you'll gather, I have all the visual imagination of a myopic hamster. One of the staff said she liked my design and it "looked like a Suit that Fits suit", which tells you a lot! The guy from Men's Health was suitably ripped and designed a suit to emphasise the upper body, he called it the "muscle suit". I'd rather have something I can still wear in a few year's time and, how can I put this tactfully, those muscles don't last without a very large amount of work. A couple of other bloggers had more extreme ideas; narrow leg, a border around the lapel, shortened jacket and very slim fits on everything. Colour was a vital part of what they were about - the brighter the better in some cases. OK, but if you're being practical...

Maybe the idea wasn't necessarily to be practical the whole time. Speaking of unusual suits I saw something else while I was there; the company will next week launch suit designer Mighel's cotton suit. He developed it whilst coming into work sweltering last summer. It's an unstructured suit with less lining than you'd normally get, so it falls around your body shape - do not buy it if you look like me (my unstructured jacket I bought last year is a sight...) but if you're slim and reasonably well-exercised it could be a blessing if we get another heatwave.

Meanwhile there are still a couple of weeks to have a go at suits yourself and enter the Suit that Fits design competition, which you can enter by clicking here. The winner (again, that's not a sponsored link) gets their suit hand made to measure and it'll go into the A Suit That Fits online shop so other people can buy it, and you get a cut of the takings.

I might enter my own design. You never know, the judges might like myopic hamsters.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Watch the watches: The Christopher Ward Beckett's C90

I've been looking at a newish Christopher Ward watch. As per previous posts on watches I should declare myself an affiliate of the company as you see from the banner above; click and buy anything and I get a cut. I was an owner and a bit of a fan before I set this affiliation up, the opinions expressed are genuine but for people who prefer full declaration there it is.

I was interested to see that the Christopher Ward Forum, the informal owners' club that has its base on the website, had declared last Autumn's release of the Beckett's C90 watch as the "most significant" the company had made. Of course I asked if I could have a play with one for a few days. I wanted to see what a "significant" watch actually was - and why it carries the price tag of £750.

So, the usual packaging and paraphernalia that comes with a prestige watch aside (I could do without it but the collectors seem to think it's very important), you put the watch on. It looks good, slightly retro/classic and works well. The clever bit about this one is that it's an automatic - self-winding through the movement of your wrists as you move around, no battery - with a power reservoir you top up by winding. This coils the spring so that unlike other automatics which drop dead when they're still for a while, it keeps going for 48 hours so if you don't want to wear it every day you don't have to keep resetting it.

I'm very fond of the styling. It's got that "Mad Men" thing going on, looks a bit like an old clock, luminous dials (basic but not something my other Christopher Ward automatic, the C5SSS has) so I can tell the time in the dark. And it has the obligatory and rather engaging viewing window of the movement on the back, as you can see. I love these bits; I have no doubt other people will find them superfluous.

Of course as a review model I'll be sending it back and this time around I won't be offering money instead of the watch back as I did once before. The reason is simple; whereas it may indeed be my birthday next month, and OK, work has been doing well (although I write this blog for fun and take no money from it yet), I can't justify £750 on a new watch when I have one that works perfectly well already. I find the prestige watch market a bit of a puzzle to be honest; sure, I'd like to have the choice, but as long as you can tell the time and it doesn't look hideous I don't quite "get" the "less than a ten thousand quid Omega is no good" ethos.

I asked Christopher Ward of London sales director Mike France about the price and he pointed out that it was only expensive compared to other Christopher Ward watches; others on the same market with the Eta Valgranges A07.161 movement retail in the thousands. This movement, which has the power reserve, costs around 3.5 times the price of the Eta 2824-2 which goes into my trusty C5 and my watch is around a third of the price as a result. "Additionally on the C90, the multi-layered, two piece dial is very expensive but we believe gives the watch an added dimension," he explains.

So there it is - the components push the price up. If I were in the market for a new watch and had that sort of disposable income (and any trip to an upmarket jeweller will tell you it's not an extraordinary amount, just a larger sum than I'm personally used to spending on impulse buys) it would come pretty much close to top of my shortlist.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Shaving: the cream of the crop

My blog entries on shaving (here on methods and here on blades) seem to have gone down well here. So I've been looking at a few different shaving preparations and trying them out.

First the cheapie. King of Shaves' Azor Advanced Shaving Gel Sensitive costs £2.99. It's presumably got some mint in it which is refreshing but a little offputting if you want to use your own choice of scent over the top of it. It's transparent and very slightly slimy - took a little rinsing off afterwards and I'd guess repeated use would start to clog a razor if you weren't careful. But hey, for three quid it's fine.

Moving a little upmarket there's Omorovicza Soothing Shave Cream. Smooth it onto your face, scrape away and rinse. The scent reminded me of Germoline from when I was a child. The smoothness of shave was beyond any doubt and the smell didn't hang around but for £17 I might have hoped for a little easier glide from the razor on my skin. Funnily enough I got this from the King of Shaves gear at almost a sixth of the price.

All of the above are non-foaming. Nothing wrong with that - except I'm in the habit of taking my glasses off before shaving, and a visible track of where the foam's vanished is a good way of checking you're not missing bits if you can only see a flesh-and-foam blur. It may just be me - the founder of King of Shaves actually started the business with a shave oil because he didn't want the bubbles.

I got a more foam with Ole Henriksen Clean Shave (pictured right), which felt and smelled more masculine than any of the other items on offer. It's got stuff like cucumber and Eucalyptus in it and it felt refreshing and pleasant to use. This would be a good choice for a daily routine if you can run to the £26 a bottle it goes for on Amazon; not everyone is going to be that flush but it's certainly pleasant to use. I aspire to the day I can make this my regular choice.

A little more old school is the soap I tried from - it's pleasant to use, only lightly scented and they also sell a relatively inexpensive shaving brush (£19.99 which, for genuine bristle and the amount of foam it'll hold and the heat it retains, compares favourably with a lot of brushes on the market). The soap, pictured left, is £24.99 but this does include a useful ceramic dish.

It also includes, as does the brush, a hell of a lot of packaging - as you can see from the picture, the presentation box is such that if you buy much of it someone from Greenpeace will come and personally duff you up (I don't mean this seriously, in case there are any lawyers reading). And although I enjoyed using the soap I couldn't find refills on the website, and wouldn't want to order yet another dish and presentation box. It's listed on the website under "gifts" so presumably they're only expecting to sell one-offs.

A few weeks ago I put an entry up including notes on my experience with The Bluebeards' Revenge, which you'll find for around £16. I'm still very fond of it. The Henriksen could probably supplant it as my favourite, but the price difference means it's probably not going to do so permanently for the moment.

Coming soon: the scent of a man - I'll be looking at aftershaves, Eaux de Toilette and colognes - starting with what the differences are between those terms!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

National no smoking day

Today is No Smoking Day. This is of course a blog about men's style and grooming beyond the age of 35, when the mags tend to lose interest in us. Smoking has historically been part of that style.

Flickr: M.Markus
Glamorous images of tobacco are all over the place and unless we want to rewrite history they're here to stay. Churchill chomping on a cigar. Groucho on a cigar. Paul Henreid and Bette Davis blowing smoke into each other's faces in "Now Voyager" - ever so seductive. In "Dr. No", James Bond is first introduced whilst lighting a cigarette. And of course we have the current vogue for "Mad Men".

All very positive, sophisticated and comforting. And look at the ages of the people who were smoking in these scenarios by the time they died (Bond doesn't count, the character is fictional and I have no idea whether Sir Sean Connery actually smokes - ditto "Mad Men" and the actors involved). Bette Davis was a dedicated smoker who was very old by the time she passed away. Churchill was indomitable until his eighties and Marx was still appearing on TV until the 1970s.

Only...smoking's never like that when you encounter it in real life. The actual image we see is more like the one in the picture here - a bit grubby, smelly, and leaves a bit of a stain. My dad smoked and I grew up pretty much in a smoke-scented house. My mum didn't by the time I was around but she moved to a flat over a decade ago and the woman in the flat below enjoyed cigarettes - so mum's flat would suddenly smell of tobacco.

That's a bit invasive, isn't it? In the same way that during my twenties I couldn't return home from a drink with friends in a pub without smelling of stale tobacco, needing to get jackets dry cleaned and so on. Smokers couldn't see what the fuss was about (I'm one of the lucky ones who didn't start - very uncool at the time but one of the best decisions I've made).

But back to my mother. She moved to this flat by herself. The reason was very simple: my father died of a heart attack in 1984. He left her (aged 46, my age come April) widowed with me (then 19) and my brother (14) in tow.

Heart attacks are caused by many things - if I don't lose a bit of weight I'll have to consider myself in the "at risk" group as I ease into my late forties - but we were assured by the hospital that in this instance smoking would have been a major factor. Dad's lungs were found also to contain emphysema, so even if he'd lived he'd have had a wretched illness to face. Nearly 27 years later what really hurts is that he did it to himself through an indulgence - it was completely unnecessary.

Never mind Churchill and Marx. We all know someone who's gone on for years working on the principle that a little of what you fancy does you good and including tobacco in that equation.

The fact is that if you smoke it smells bad, makes a mess (whoever told my smoking in-laws that it was acceptable to throw cigarette butts aside in the street or on my patio when they were visiting I have no idea) and you have no way of knowing whether you're going to be one of those people who goes on until your nineties or checks out in your forties like my dad. Or your twenties with agonising cancer, as an old mate from school did. Sorry, I said "old" - clearly he never was.

Suddenly smoking seems less like a style statement and more like a totally crazy idea. If you're reading this blog then there's a good chance you're at the age when we need to start taking these things seriously if we haven't before.

Smoking is a clinical addiction and you may well need help from a GP or advice from a pharmacist, but if you're a smoker aiming to give up then good luck - and if you're a smoker not aiming to give up, have a think.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Music players and suits

Something I'm rarely bothered with is how to disentangle the wiring from MP3 players' headphones from a suit. There's a reason for this. I tried using an iPod on the move once or twice, was forever getting annoyed by the earphone cable (I tend to use wireless Bluetooth ones with my iPhone now) so gave up on it.

Not everyone has a Bluetoothed MP3 player, of course, which is presumably why my usual tailor, A Suit That Fits (sponsored link, costs you nothing), has been selling a new design - suits with an "MP3 tunnel".

As you can see from the picture it's a really simple idea. Pop your earphones in the top pocket, drop the phones through a little tunnel to the phone/media player pocket and it's just like a piece of channeling for a wire through the wall - hides a load of untidiness, makes sure you're not trailing earphone wires all over the place.

Of course they had to have this idea after I'd bought my last suit from them, and I've really got enough by now. But for people who need a new addition to their wardrobe this looks sensible, practical and non-ostentatious and adds only £8 to the price of the jacket. I'd certainly have it put in if I were putting a new order in anytime soon.

Speaking of tailoring I had some interesting feedback a short while ago from someone who'd ordered from a tailor, found the clothes didn't fit, sent them back and found they didn't fit again. He wrote the tailor off as hopeless. It's worth mentioning that two or maybe three fittings is quite common in tailoring and should be expected. The difference is that if an off-the-peg suit doesn't fit properly the shop is unlikely to alter it individually for you.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Passing the shoe

he new fashion season is poised to start and - somewhat typically - men's stuff hasn't changed massively. I was surprised and pretty damned pleased when Loakes sent me pictures of the new Jack range (pictured), which comes in brown, mid-brown, pale beige and blue.

It's a Goodyear welted brogue in oily suede and retails for £140. It would look good with jeans or a relaxed suit, no tie (which means it's time for me to ask people to click on my sponsored Asuitthatfits link here for inexpensive tailoring - no obligation to buy, it'll help keep this blog going and for what it's worth I've bought six of the suits quite happily).

Better yet from my point of view they're uncannily similar to the previous Bryant range. Here's a crummy picture I took in poor light on my phone:

The public relations manager (to whom I'm grateful for the picture above, you know, the half-decent one) tells me the new one is much more on-trend. It has a rounder shape whereas mine has a squarer toe and is slightly flatter, and the new version has a thicker sole. The pattern punched into the new model's leather is a traditional brogue pattern whereas mine has a variant you probably can's see in my picture.

The new shoe is therefore much better for the new season. OK, maybe it is if you're a strict fashionista. To my mind it's not different enough to warrant £140 and - here's where Loake shoots itself in the foot, if you'll pardon the expression - there's plenty of wear left in the existing model, at least in my pair.

I won't be buying the new version in any great hurry, then - but if you want an idea of the sort of thing shoe manufacturers are likely to be pushing at us in the near future this is probably a good indication. I admit if I needed a new pair of shoes I'd be seriously tempted.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Massage: the day my clicks went away

So my barber - I should stop calling it that as it's so much more - has opened up a holistic treatment centre on its pretty substantial premises (well, more substantial than you'd expect for a barber). Called The Valet in Addiscombe has installed a massage table and all sorts of other stuff to pamper us men. Just in time for my birthday next month - and better still, I've test driven the Swedish Massage service.

You go through the barber premises and into a small room where you're offered a robe (don't bother, you'll only have to take it off) and asked to lie on the table, covering your boxers with a towel. Rebecca Waller, the new member of staff who handles the massage, starts with the arms and chest. This is soothing enough and pleasant. She moves down to the leg area and for me the real soothing started - I take the dog out for a walk quite a lot, and it's hilly round here. I had no idea my legs had stiffened but they had.

It was then flipping over time. Back of legs done, lower back eased and then the upper back and shoulders. By now smelling strongly of lemongrass oil and very, very relaxed, I was barely awake - and suddenly aware that my neck was feeling more mobile than it had done for a while. In fact on finishing the massage I noticed a whole load of clicks and "sccchnick" sounds I've been used to when turning my head round or leaning over or something had just vanished. Like (I suspect) a lot of people I'd been putting these down to getting to my mid-forties; I was not only refreshed but pleased to find I was in slightly better nick than I'd thought. I'd happily recommend a massage like this to anyone - another time I might go for only the upper back as that was clearly what needed the work in my case (sitting up typing all day I shouldn't be surprised).

Afterwards she advised me to drink lots of water and also said not to go to the gym for the day. I'd thought she was quite bright until that point; I have to say, though, that anyone who can massage my body and think I've been anywhere near a gym for a good while is probably just being polite...