"For God's sake Dom, stop looking at the prostitute and keep your eyes on the road." My wife had a point. Our two right-hand side wheels had briefly skirted the deep ditch on the side of the Tuscan country road.
The prostitute that I'd been observing was the fifth that we'd seen along this winding drive between Arezzo and Siena. According to locals, they were all from Africa and were dropped off every morning by an old man in a beaten-up car. They stand in their allocated positions – some in fields, others in lay-bys – waiting for passing trade. It was not exactly what I was expecting to see our three days at our "Tuscan retreat", as our monastery-turned-hotel likes to style itself. We are here to relax – not with prostitutes, but by enjoying the spa facilities on offer.
Sadly, I find spas most unrelaxing. I have an aversion to whale music, a soundtrack that seems to be obligatory in these type of establishments. Women, my wife included, clearly feel differently. This is pretty much her dream destination: not too far from the kids, spa therapies on tap and a designer-shoe outlet 20 minutes' drive away.
Despite my protestations, however, I was eventually persuaded to have a massage. "It'll do you good," said Stacey. "It'll help you unwind."
Why do women not understand that men unwind by drinking beer and watching a good film? This, however, was not on the list of treatments – although I could have some hot water and lemon should I so desire.
I perused the list of available massages. It listed drainage massages, Ayurvedic massages, deep tissue massages, sports massages, holistic massages. I was completely lost. I was once persuaded to have a "Zero Zen" massage in Notting Hill in which a hippy charged me a £100 to float his hands over my body for half an hour. I was particularly unrelaxed when I left that one I can tell you. Especially as he had very bad BO.
I eventually opted for a Swedish one because... I have no idea actually. It was the first on the list and sounded slightly less airy-fairy than the others. Once the decision was made, a woman who resembled a dental nurse asked me to follow her down squeaky-clean corridors and into her little room. The whale music was in full screech and I felt very stressed already. She handed me a tiny plastic packet before leaving the room. It was a pair of paper comedy pants with no rear to them. I attempted to put them on but only managed to tear them so that they were barely clinging to my genitalia. I hopped on to the bed and pulled a sheet over me.
The dental nurse returned and asked me in a stupidly hushed tone whether I would like the massage soft, medium or hard? I didn't want to look weak so I went for hard. Big mistake.
The nurse started pummelling and cracking my poor body until I eventually had to ask her if she had ever been to Cuba? Specifically Guantanamo Bay. She turned the whale music up and started to work on my inner thighs. I thought very hard about unsexy things, like Frankie Boyle and Bungle from Rainbow. Finally, after what seemed like ages, she stopped the abuse and vacated the room without saying anything.
I lay there for 10 minutes, not knowing what to do. I eventually got up, took off my paper pants and put them in a small bin in the corner. I found my clothes, got dressed and left. The corridors were empty, there was nobody about. I scuttled outside and headed for the bar. Tomorrow I think I might try one of the "African roadside" massages. At least they only last for a couple of minutes.