November 8, 2013 6:43 pm

The key to a perfect massage room – a fireplace and Schubert

But there is no point fussing over all the decorations and ending up with a pair of palms that does not press the right points

David Tang, entrepreneur and founder of ICorrect, offers advice on questions about property, interiors – and modern manners for globetrotters

How would you design a massage room in one’s home?

I would want it to be in a proper room with a window and not, as usually found, in a basement cell devoid of natural light with an uninviting clinical bed in the middle with bare walls and a pile of towels and bottles of oils in the corner. Rather, the room should be decorated like a small drawing room or library, with proper pieces of furniture and preferably a fireplace and a clock that tick-tocks like a therapeutic metronome. The best time is just before sunset, with the fading amber filling the room. That’s why a massage room ought to have a west-facing window, a detail which always seems to escape sloven designers. As dusk sets in, the massage room descends into darkness and a couple of candles (and the fire if appropriate) would be lit. With twilight, the room would glow with flickering flames and playing softly in the background would be one of Schubert’s last piano sonatas or Debussy’s string quartet. At the end of the massage, the dimmer lights should be turned up and one would have a drink of water and then perhaps something stiffer from a tray of drinks on the side. Slouch into an armchair and relax further in semi-darkness when I might have the poem “Prufrock” coming through the speakers. But absolutely no television which is an invitation to mindlessness. Then in an en-suite bathroom, a gentle shower or, even better, a hot steam with eucalyptus essence. So a massage room is one in which we should spend time. Make sure, however, that the masseuse is good. There is absolutely no point fussing over all the decorations and ending up with a pair of palms which does not pressurise the right points of nerves nor plough over the correct contour of muscles.

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David Tang

I am shocked (yes, I have led a sheltered life) to read you consider Bach – who composed the most perfect music in the history of mankind – as “more hackneyed than erudite”. Surely you don’t truly think that of JS Bach? In which case why did you write it?

Calm down. Of course Johann Sebastian Bach was a genius. I know because I have ears and have been president of the London Bach Society for years. But my point was that there are ghastly musical saboteurs like vapid advertising people who would trivialise, say, a Bach suite for smoking cheap cigarillos. Maybe I should have used Vivaldi and his “Four Seasons” by which to illustrate even more the kind of serial murder that is committed through hackneyed use.

. . .

A titled friend has remarried after a divorce. Of course it is first names all round whenever we meet which is easy. However, when it comes to writing out formal invitations should her new ladyship be so addressed? And still the same with regard to his first wife?

Simple. The new wife takes the title of your titled friend. And the divorced wife is entitled to use her old titled name until she remarries. So it is possible for there to be two Lady X at the same time. What is not correct is the common use, and very common it is too, of the first name and the surname together when one is not the daughter of an earl or upwards. Ergo, the wife of Sir Philip Green is properly Lady Green, but definitely not Lady Tina Green.

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Scented candles – is it burning money and is it EVER acceptable to scent one’s rooms.

Stop worrying about money which is meant for burning, like desires. A pervading aroma in a room is very welcoming and calming and comfortable. But the only scents I like are natural ones like incense or sandalwood, and I hate the sweet artificial mixture that saturates the candle market. I remember Diana, Princess of Wales burning scented – tuberose – candles at her home at Kensington Palace even at lunchtime. It was one of the chicest things she did.

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Your column just stopped in the summer, we thought you were dead. My wife and I are due a holiday – may we inquire what inspires you on your time off?

I am glad your presumption of my death was premature. When I go on holiday, I want to be able to play the piano more and wear my pyjamas much more. In particular, I find that when I practise the piano wearing pyjamas, I play much better when I change into formal clothes. It’s like the Chinese table-tennis coach who makes his players wear lead shoes during practice so that when they actually play, they almost fly in the air with dexterity.

Email questions to david.tang@ft.com

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