I joined a new gym recently. Spanking-new, cheap and full of all manner of apparatus to pamper the health-conscious members. One such device is a massage bath. It's located at the end of a walking pool where pensioners bob up and down as they traverse its oval course. I snuck into massage spot No. 1 between a team of elderly ladies lusting after the relaxing water jets on their aching limbs. Just as I positioned my body so I could get the spray onto a soothing spot on my lower back, I heard the sound of a bird tweet - nothing new in Japan, where "birds" tweet to tell you that you can cross the road. Then, as if by clockwork, the oldies in the pool shuffled one position to their right and I was practically barged into spot No. 2 - the bum massager. This pattern of tweeting and shuffling continued. No. 3 - the thigh massager. No. 4 - the calf massager. No. 5 the middle back massager. No. 6 - the upper back massager, and finally the No. 7 - the shoulder massager. This is where the regimented shuffling ended. The oldies spiralled back into their bobbing routine in the walking pool and I decided to do another circuit of the massage jets.
This time, however, I had one of the moments I frequently receive in pools, hot springs or saunas, when a friendly elderly gent asks me where I'm from. When I told this particular fellow I was from the UK, he said he went there last spring, and to each tweet and shuffle would tell me of a place he visited. Spot No. 1 - Westminster Abbey. No. 2 - Bath, and via Stratford-upon-Avon, Windsor, Brighton and the Cotswolds to No. 7 - the Lake District.
All good above-board stuff. Fortunate, considering I have had such "friendly" chaps proposition me on a good number of occasions to engage in acts less conversational. Perhaps I shouldn't close my eyes and think of England sometimes.