When I lived in Hong Kong I had a long-standing relationship with a woman from Beijing called Sarah, to whom I entirely handed all responsibility for care of my eyebrows, as well as the waxing of my legs (if you are ill-acquainted with what this actually means, I won't offend delicate sensibilities by describing it; just imagine the sounds RRRIIPPPP and OUCH). I went to see Sarah once every six weeks or so over a period of 5 or 6 years; she came via recommendation from a colleague and was in turn recommended by me to countless friends. She worked in a rather odd beauty salon on the 9th floor of a commercial block in Central that had seen better days.
Considering its glossy rivals the salon itself was less than glamorous, with browning wallpaper decorated with random swatches of pot pourri, dinky ornaments strewn around the place and ancient peeling posters advertising long-unfashionable beauty treatments, owned by an eccentric woman who took an uncomfortably prurient interest in the treatments, often barging in to talk to and inspect the work of her staff when, by complete coincidence, their clients were in various states of undress and/or arrayed in the awkward postures required by the waxing process. The unprepossessing surroundings and nosy owner were the price to be paid for being looked after by Sarah, a lovely, happy person who always seemed pleased to see her clients and chattered away in an endearing mix of English and Chinese. We developed a friendship and it was always a pleasure to see her. I used to advise her that if she collected all the hair she’d taken from my body over the years (and I probably went to see her at least 40 times), she would be able to make herself a little coat with it. (This is a truly revolting image, I know, but how we laughed!)
Since moving to Australia I’ve made some half-hearted attempts to find myself a new Sarah. It is a surprisingly intimate relationship however, and I’ve never felt comfortable with anyone else. Care of my eyebrows and the rest has, unfortunately, now passed to me and I look infinitely more shabby as a result.