As many keen observers of this well-researched column will know, I am not that wild about facials. I did a Decleor one once with the co-founder of this esteemed website, the marvellous SV, and we both ended up flat on our backs like a couple of Russian prozzies in the upstairs bar in Harvey Nichols. Vine had the flushed cheeks of a menopausal geography teacher who loves nothing more than yomping through Snowdonia; while I was so god damn tight I’d been trying to flog her for camels to the highest bidder. And we’d only drunk two glasses of champagne.
That was twenty years ago, when you could still sell your mate for more than one camel and I could afford champagne. But ever since then I have had rather a circumspect attitude towards facials and have given them rather a wide birth. I am not sure they’re really worth it. If you can’t go out for a flute after someone has buffed up your face, what’s the point? All the cream just ends up on the pillow. Also why do they take sooooo long? One hour? To rub some cream into your face? Added to that, I am not sure I want someone else’s face that close to mine. Nose to nose? Finger up my nose? Poking my eyes about? It’s all a bit too much.
However… However… HOWEVER. I am such a crashing snob and a slave to glamour that if there are two words that will make me swallow my pride, drop my pants and pop on a white fluffy dressing gown, they are Sisley and Claridge’s. Put the two of them together: Sisley at Claridge’s. Then I am streaking, bare-bushed, all the way to Brook St and the sixth floor spa, where I am met by the fragrant Sarah and the usual blast of mogadon music. Why is it that spas seek to lobotomise their clients with other-worldly cantata?
Stripped and towelling clad, I am invited to lie down in a darkened room on a pre-warmed bed. Now frankly, for any drone worker bee like me with two children on Easter holidays, a grumpy husband on a diet and a dog with chronic diarrhoea, that was enough for me. A sixty minute lie down. What a treat! All I needed was to kill the tunes and I would have been out for the count, dribbling on my own shoulder.
And then Sarah got the unctions out. They were extremely expensive fabulous Sisley unctions for the older lady (naturally). Hydra-Global Intense Anti Ageing Hydration. Supremya At Night. Eye Contour Mask, Express Flower Gel and a Black Rose Cream Mask. They all smelt and felt delicious.
Now as a crone who’s fond of a fag, I had opted for the anti-ageing facial and this apparently comes with quite a lot of pumping and slapping and perking up of the flagging facial muscles. To be honest I was not totally enamoured by this bit. Sarah was awfully good and everything but there is only so much rubbing of my pelican chin I can take. If someone flaps about with one’s flaps, it only really makes you feel, well, a little more flappy. Also, I do quite like to know what is coming next. I am sure most people fall asleep, but all I kept thinking was ‘when is she going to leave the flaps alone and pop on the snoozy face mask?’
Having said all that, when I left the salon my skin did look and feel fantastic. It looked glowing and it smelt fabulous. My cheeks, which had obviously been heading south for the evening, were more perky and pinky and dare I say it, a tad more youthful.
But the acid test was yet to come. Could I take my new face out for dinner with the girls? Otherwise what is the point of being pinky and perky and youthful if it is not to show off to other women? So out I popped for three vodka and tonics, two fags and a chilli salt squid. And guess what? They all coo-ed over my cheeks, I didn’t show anyone my pants, my face didn’t flush and the word camel wasn’t mentioned all night.