But my lungs have been passive smoking in Beijing since last century. I’ve already done an Emily Brontë and had consumption. It’s a great diet, but I get breathless sprinting away from stalkers.
So when I heard about this Viva Mayr health holiday – a holiday where you lose weight and go home looking ten years younger without going anywhere near a knife – I was on the plane before you could say, “cellulite.”
Checking into a hotel room with two toilets ready for an intestinal cleanse, the root of the Mayr cure, may not sound like a great deal of fun. But mountains are God’s tranquilisers and the view from my bath and bed kept me serene; which is just as well as I’d already been frisked for Valium.
“Be aware that you have two toilets,” the hotel Führer, a tall burd who looks like Princess Diana, reminded me as she showed me my lovely room. Maybe instead of dying, Diana actually came here to run a defecation hotel? The princess did know how to purge.
The new Viva Mayr clinic, on the mystical shores of Lake Altaussee in the Austrian Alps, where Daniel Craig recently did his Bond thing, was built by a minted dude for his daughters. Because what is wealth without health? Riches and romance are impossible to enjoy if you don’t have the energy.
I’m not a big fan of quacks, so when I discovered – after reading my schedule, which doubles up as a small weight the size of a telephone directory – that my first doctor’s appointment was at 8am, I felt like calling my husband’s helicopter to rescue me. Of course the mountain was blocking my signal, so even though calls are not Verboten, it is not actually possible to make one.
The Führer appeared when I accidentally hit the panic button while playing with the remote control for my toilets, and rather sweetly offered to unpack my bag. This gave her the chance to steal my biscuits. The staff are impossible to bribe, and most of them are evangelical about The Cure.
The Cure is compulsory for all inmates.
“If we had some guests drinking wine in the restaurant it would spoil the atmosphere,” my doctor, Ingrid – Eva Braun with a brain – told me.
The atmosphere is insane-asylum-meets-St-Trinian’s, with me playing bad girl Arabella and telling a red-faced man who misses wine where to find the pub in the forest.
“Everyone takes The Cure together. So much more fun!” the beatific Dr Ingrid tells me as she massages my small intestine with manicured fingers.
And so much more farting, with everyone guzzling bottles of salty water as they shuffle around in bathrobes boasting how much impacted waste they have cleaned out of their colons. Salt is the rock of this cure, coming from the local mines, where the Nazis hid their art treasures when the war was lost.
“Your soft stools should slide happily out,” Dr Sepp, who runs the joint, announced.
I’m sweating off fat running from massage to hydrotherapy, with regular detours to defecate. I’d be happy walking by Lake Altaussee, maybe paying a visit to Mr Red Bull, the man behind the drink, who has a cabin on the water, instead of spending my days locked in numerous toilets. But I don’t have the energy, so I retreat to my room with a large bottle of salty water which I dutifully pour down the drain.
I’m a rule-breaker not a heartbreaker, so I pretend to guzzle the salty stuff along with all the other potions. To be fair I am not anally retentive and don’t have problems eliminating the brown stuff, which is possibly more than you care for me to share unless you are Chinese and fond of discussing bowel movements over dinner.
“Sleep is one of the problems of the modern age,” Dr Sepp announced one evening as we sat round sipping salty water wondering who would run for the toilet first.
It’s just a shame the curtains don’t fit and there’s enough light coming in my window to disturb the blind. At home in Soho, I sleep in a room darker than Dracula’s tomb, but the ever-obliging Führer was determined to find a blackout solution for me with the help of a boy in lederhosen who I kept expecting to burst into a chorus of Tomorrow Belongs to Me.
Hans knocked on my door at bedtime – around 7.30pm – and led me to the room specially prepared for me to sleep in.
“I have worked hard all day,” Hans confided, opening the door of my new sleep chamber, whose smell practically knocked me out. Hanging off the window was a fabric like a sloppy dominatrix’s rubber dress. There were tears in my eyes – an allergic reaction – as I thanked Hans for all his hard work. He kissed my hand and wished me sweet dreams; so pleased with his mess I couldn’t crush his delight.
I waited until he had gone then tiptoed back to my bright room overlooking the lake.
Word got around about my Sleep Chamber. Soon I was able to charge admission. A spoonful of avocado or a sliver of chicken for a peek.
When I was at a loose end I went in there and had a sniff and forgot I was hungry. I imagine it’s similar to the pleasure weird people get from sniffing glue. Personally I think Superglue should be saved for sticking plastic jobbies on the cars of your enemies.
The sum of the vices is constant and you may as well be addicted to something that’s good for you.
Glugging bottles of salt is never going to be my poison, but I began to look forward to my stomach massage with Dr Ingrid every morning at the crack of dawn; and going the Victoria Beckham method of eating soup with a teaspoon for dinner.
The Viva Mayr cure is a life-changing experience which works on your body and soul in a subtle way until your soul starts to twinkle.
Everybody smiles instead of obsessing about the brown stuff.
“Breathe,” as Yoko said to John. (Who knows what she said to Hillary Clinton? “Your bum looks really big in that, missus”?)
It’s a trick of perspective, or a blast of oxygen, and when you look in the rearview mirror as you drive away your skin is bright and clear.
Most of the inmates have taken The Cure more than once and when I left, five pounds lighter, I already planned to return.
Carole Morin is the author of the noirish thriller Spying On Strange Men carolemorin.co.uk