Melissa Todd: Don’t tell anyone – I’m doing a massage course

Ready to learn!

If you ever decide to do a massage course, for pity’s sake don’t tell people you’re doing a massage course. They’ll bother the life out of you, offering to strip to the waist and let you practise, and it’s almost never people you really fancy touching.

Anyway, I’m doing this massage course. Husband and son both have long grumpy backs that seem to need constant attention, and I’m never sure if my feeble efforts help or hinder. I was told to turn up with one notebook and two towels – one for ‘protection’, the other for ‘modesty’, which made the whole business sound thrillingly naughty.

Clearly husband thought so too. “Any men there?” he messaged, the second my heel crossed the classroom threshold.

“Only one, and five girls”, I typed back surreptitiously, hiding my phone under the desk away from teacher’s reproachful stare, an instant naughty schoolgirl.


“Honestly, the drooling is rather off-putting, and his face is so twisted up with smug it’s hard to be sure.”

Husband lapsed into a reproachful silence after that, and teacher began to scribble at her whiteboard, instructing us in kneading, stroking, cupping, wringing, tapping, hacking, beating and pounding, so  that I rapidly understood the need for protection.

Aggressive business, massage. It also involves more talk of blood and hearts than I’d prefer. I’m somewhere beyond squeamish. As I reached for my smelling salts, half of us were instructed to take our tops off; the other half, to get oiled up. I’d only just met the lovely Nicky, yet now I was balancing her flowery bra against a brimming cup of baby oil, while trying not to catch the eye of the smug drooler.

“Now, lower their undergarments and insert a paper towel into – forgive me, I know not the medical term – their bum crack”, trilled teacher. I obeyed, then began my stroking, kneading and pounding, and once I’d got over my quintessential English reserve – dear God, I’m laying oily hands on a stranger, my fingers are in her armpits, she’s moaning softly, surely this is borderline illegal, and certainly adulterous – I found I was quite enjoying it. Clearly Nicky was, the dirty bint.

My homework was to give three back massages and seek written feedback from the recipients. I thought son might find it weird to have me wringing and hacking his flesh, but no, he was as keen as everyone else, and particularly enjoyed signing my homework diary after years of taking it from me. In fact, yes, I have done all three, thanks, and they went fine, although gosh it’s energetic work and leaves your fingers aching.

Next week it’ll be my turn to get naked and lie down while Nicky gets oiled up, and I’ve made plans to thoroughly enjoy it.


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