Sunday, 8 May 2011

Too many fish in the sea...

Emerging from Shepherd's Bush tube after work I often find myself wondering who or what will await me on the pavement outside the station. Certainly since it's regeneration it has become a playing field for political, commercial or religious leaflet distributors. The majority of the time I like this. In the run up to an election I like being reminded that political spirit is alive and well. The religious rapping and the paintball salesmen leave me less enthused but it is nevertheless nice to see some activity and it adds to the whole randomness of Shepherd's Bush. Particularly when it is set to the musical soundtrack Shepherd's Bush renowned saxophone player (seen here). The only people I was very uncomfortable, and a little angry, about seeing were the Sciencetologists who were once a regular feature outside the station.

About a week ago, however, I was more tired than usual following a hectic Easter weekend and in shock from the lack of chaos or elbows-in-gut on the tube and before I knew it a collection of leaflets was thrust in my open palm. They were for a variety of special offers at Tan and Beauty, a hairdressers/beauty salon on Uxbridge Road facing the Green. Aside for a pedicure, manicure and sunbed there was a leaflet for a fish pedicure. Not something I thought I'd see in Shepherd's Bush.

A fish pedicure, also known as a fish spa, is a recent trend where, basically little hungry fish eat the dead skin off your feet. I remember about a year ago my friend Elsie told me how she had been given a voucher for a fish spa in Knightsbridge, the first in London, for her birthday. She went along with some curiosity and trepidation and reported back saying she nearly wee-ed herself with laughter and her feet were indeed left softer... "a bit".

It was for this reason that I agreed to go to a fish spa in Kuala Lumpur when NewMan and I were there staying with my best friend CeCe last October. A summer of flip flop wearing had left my heels dry and hard. I wanted feet as soft as cotton wool, or failing that at least feet that when they rubbed together didn't create a spark.

Apparently the concept of fish spas using these skin munching species of fish began in 2006 in Japan and the trend has spread across the globe. They are well established in Malaysia where we saw numerous places to have the "treatment" and indeed when we went other clientele were sat knee deep in the fish tanks reading newspapers or on their iPhones. Since it's popularity has grown so has the criticism with reports claiming that it is actually a very unhygienic treatment and that tanks aren't kept clean or that the benefits for skin ailments like eczema or psoriasis are mythical. I don't know what the case may be, but I gave it a go and I still have all ten of my toes.

It is testament to the bizarre way trends grow that a concept I considered to be very rare or foreign less than a year ago has now landed in a hair salon in Uxbridge Road. When I gripped CeCe's hand tight and plunged my tootsies into the fish tanks in Malaysia last October I never thought that within the year there would be a fish spa within 500m from my house. Will I head there and take advantage of their special offer of 30 minutes for £20 instead of £30? Probably not considering it was £6.00 for 30 minutes in Kuala Lumpur, and if I'm honest I didn't really see any benefit (and before you think it the dry skin on my hoofs feet isn't that bad!). I did, however, abandon my dignity in front of the Malaysian regulars and I laughed and squealed until I cried; it's amazing how ticklish it can be to have fish nibbling away at your feet. And were my tootsies candy floss soft? Heck no. Of course not. But thankfully I have since found and invested in Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream; far more effective if a lot less fun.

Here are my pictures from my fish spa in Malaysia with a little video of said squealing (which is CeCe, I'm the one with all the plasters thanks to my popularity with Malaysian mosquitos):

I wonder what other bizarre trends will arrive in the Bush next?

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