Toddling around the ‘Trafford Centre’ in a fruitless search for Christmas pressies, (it is close enough to Christmas to have to think about these things, but not, as I found, close enough to open one’s purse) ‘Tales’ stumbled upon the rather invitingly named shop, ‘Appy Feet’. Feet being anything other than ‘appy’ at this point, it was a somewhat tempting prospect.
But ‘Appy Feet’, as some of you might already know, isn’t a conventional treatment for one’s tired tootsies. No. It consists of large tanks containing small, minnow-like fish. Customers immerse their feet, and the fish, there were a lot of them wriggling in each tank, begin feasting, nibbling away dead skin.
Apparently, after fifteen minutes, the feet emerge all smooth and lovely. Down here in ‘Tales’, we decided to take other people’s words for it.
It transpires ‘fish-spa-pedicures’ are the fashionable fin (sorry, couldn’t resist) of a serious business offering all-over treatments for skin conditions such as Psoriasis. The fish, known as ‘spa’, or ‘doctor fish’, are Garra Rufa, originating in a number of locations around the Mediterranean basin, most notably in Turkey, where spa treatment centres have been established. The fish live in freshwater pools too warm to sustain nutrients. They are so ravenous, they are only to happy to nibble away at dead human skin with their sucky, toothless mouths.
Now ‘Tales’ doesn’t usually concern itself with animal rights, but, relief of horrid medical conditions aside, I’d like to know who thought it would be a good idea to make a nice healthy buck out of offering up the sweaty, grotty feet of harassed shoppers to these fish for dinner. And it isn’t just ‘Appy Feet’. Fish spa pedicure is even bigger business across Asia, with companies offering portable tank facilities at major events.
Whoever thought of it, I’d like to turn you into a starving Garra Rufa. And then, and only then, I will stick my extremely nasty, and particularly gnarly trotters into your tank.
A tale of very ordinary madness indeed...