I like nothing better than to relax, unwind and feel the tension ebb from my tired body.
What I’m not so keen on is having scorching wax dribbled onto my face, then ripped off with what feels like Scotch Tape.
Yet, this was my punishment for vanity after I let my wife talk me into going for a facial.
Call me naive, but I imagined it would be a calming, tranquil experience.
Images flashed before me of cool cucumbers over the eyelids and contented housewives nodding off to the soulful strains of amorous whales serenading one another across the ocean.
Never in my blackest nightmares did I imagine being trussed up like a Christmas turkey and tormented with an arsenal of terrifying implements that felt like they’d been shipped straight from Guantanamo Bay.
First, the auntie who ran the beauty parlour asked me to lie on a bed. So far so good, I thought. If lying down were a sport, I’d be an Olympic athlete.
But no sooner had I begun to relax than I was jolted from my reverie by the unpleasant sensation of slippery, weird smelling oil being slathered over my forehead as if it were a bodybuilder’s torso.
Worse was to come. My tormentor vanished momentarily before re-emerging from her back-room lair pushing a trolley packed full of potions and what looked like home improvement tools.
Please, not the Scotch Tape!
I flinched as I felt the hot wax bite. Yet it was nothing compared to the pain as the grinning beauty therapist superglued strips of cloth to my exposed skin then tore them away with a nonchalant flick of the wrist.
I’ve never been a particularly religious man, but as I felt the adhesive clamp itself around my delicate eyelid like the jaws of a Venus Flytrap, I actually found myself praying.
I’m not saying the beauty therapist did a bad job with my facial.
After all, my wife trusts her with her life.
But being poked and prodded by a complete stranger is simply not my idea of relaxation. I’d much rather spend the day sitting in a pub or coffee shop with a good book and a bottle of Tiger.
It’s not like there was even anything wrong with my skin in the first place. OK, it’s always been a bit red, but what do you expect from an Englishman living in the tropics?
A girl once told me I had very big pores. I had no idea what she meant, but took it as a compliment.
I’m even less of a fan of massages, especially ones I haven’t asked for.
The other day, I was having my hair cut when the male hairdresser suddenly put his scissors down and started kneading my shoulders with his stubby fingers.
Now maybe I’m just old fashioned, but when I go to the barber I expect him to concentrate his efforts on my head.
If my shoulders were covered in hair, it would be a different story - he could give them a short back and sides.
But thankfully, most of my hair still resides up top. So as far as I’m concerned, the rest of my body should remain firmly out-of-bounds.
Just try telling this to your average overzealous freelance masseur. I was on holiday in Bali recently when I spied my wife lying on the beach as three old crones hovered over her like the witches from Macbeth.
One was massaging her feet, another was doing something to her head, while the third clutched a bottle that looked like it might contain the eye of a newt or the toe of a bat.
My wife seemed to be enjoying herself, so I lay down next to her to sleep.
Just as I was dozing off, I felt an icy touch on my neck.
It was one of the weird sisters, come to claim another victim.
'Massage, massage,' chanted the old crone as she stroked me with her scaly talon.
I politely declined, only for her friend to come over and do exactly the same thing. In the end, I had to go surfing just to get away from them.
It was either that or hire an exorcist.
I know that I’m in the minority when it comes to massages. You probably love them, and why not?
For millennia, those healing hands have brought calm to many a tense shoulder blade.
For an expat with a phobia of massages, moving to Singapore was perhaps not the most obvious choice.
Although I have no figures to back this up, they seem much more popular here than in my native Britain.
There are parlours everywhere, some of which look like they offer a lot more than just beauty treatments.
But what I don’t understand is why the masseur usually feels the need to say something like, 'Wow, you’re so uptight. Just feel all those knots in your shoulders. You need to relax more!'
If I was already relaxed, I wouldn’t need a massage, would I? Anyway, I can’t think of anything more likely to stress customers out than ordering them to be calm. It’s a bit like trying to fall asleep. The more self conscious you are, the harder it is to actually do it.
Which is why I’ve given up on 'soothing' beauty treatments. Relaxation is all well and good, but sometimes it can feel a little too much like hard work.