On Tuesday I had my ears vacuumed.

I made an emergency appointment at the ear specialist after, and with little warning, my left canal completely blocked up in the middle of a presenting shift on Breakfast.

People have all sorts of reactions when they sit down with Hilary Barry but I'm pretty sure this was a first.

The vacuuming experience was exactly as you might expect. As dainty as the lovely technician endeavoured to be, there's only so much anyone can do when shoving a hoover tube halfway to someone's brain.


You thought vacuuming underneath the couch could be difficult? Try being delicate while reaching into an eardrum. Perhaps they could provide the skinny little tube as an attachment on a late model Dyson?

Gloppy-glop-glogggggg went the sucker when it hit something big.

As it happens I've had a month of new experiences, combining a journalist's natural intrigue with my pursuit of immediate physical excellence.

Acupuncture between my shoulder blades made everything go all hot.

A separate session of electro-acupuncture, where the doctor targeted those little slabs of back fat right about my kidneys, felt a little bit like a massage with hot salad tongs. I couldn't decide if I liked it or not but I felt a sure sense of vulnerability as he pumped electric current through the needles in formation in my back.

I followed the acupuncture sessions up with another doctor's bench and a beginner's guide to cupping.

Michael Phelps' favourite relaxant left me with impressive circular bruises but nothing that actually hurt or was likely to propel me to Olympic gold.

My favourite activity of the new-experience binge was undoubtedly electro-shock physiotherapy, which the New York physio explained to me as being a massage with a low-volt defibrillator. He attached little patches (again, to my back fat) and rhythmically electrocuted me for a half hour or so.

It felt much better than it reads. For a few minutes I fell asleep.


Why do you need to know this? Why should you care?

It all starts now: The commercials. The sales. Snoopy's Christmas on repeat.

If you're looking for a really unique gift this Christmas, don't bother with something from a store. Flag the chocolate and the pricey electronics, and give someone you love an experience instead. Gift them a memory, rather than a thing.

It can be less predictable than a spa treatment. It doesn't have to cost the earth.

A bike ride round the waterfront! Hot yoga! Sensory deprivation! If you know someone adventurous, gift him or her a colonic irrigation if you must.

And if you end up being gifted an ear clean, I can tell you from personal experience that there's not much more satisfying than having a big slug of wax sucked out of your pipes.

The technician manipulated the tube down my gooey labyrinth. I heard the vacuum engine squeal. For a moment I wondered if we'd jammed the machine until suddenly everything went clear.

Speaking softly into my liberated left ear, the technician read my mind.

"Wanna see it?"