Very touching, Touchy-feely, I'm touched . . . these are all emotive words. The sense of touch seems to go straight to the heart. We feel - we have feelings . . .
The sense of touch makes us focus on the here and now, doesn't it? Sight, smell, taste and hearing can all evoke nostalgia, whisking us back into the past and perhaps allowing us to dig up some half-forgotten memory. Yet touch seems so much more immediate, as if it is bypassing the mind and logging straight into the central nervous system.
Yet all our senses are two-edged: a nasty smell, a disgusting taste, a horrific sight, a terrible noise and - inevitably - excruciating pain, the most overwhelming and feared of the dark side of the senses.
Most of us cannot understand why some of our fellow human beings can equate pleasure and pain, seeking an experience we would go out of our way to avoid and somehow finding satisfaction in it. Masochism must surely be a private, personal pleasure which some accident of fate has brought about in a personality.
I don't subscribe to the 'if it hurts it must be doing you good' school of thought, so my limited experience of professional massage has not been pleasant. Maybe I'm hypersensitive, but for me the experience was really painful and I don't feel at all inclined to repeat it.
These are my touch high points: the soft caress of a lover's hands; the glowing touch of the sun; the buoyancy of a warm sea; feeling natural textures like fur, grass, feathers . . . exquisite, fleeting pleasures that paradoxically keep you wallowing right in the moment, and allowing you to escape it.