The humble bathtub has bathed in glory throughout time as a religious rite and a social privilege. It was all the rage for the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, and the Hindus still partake in ritual dips in the Ganges (although I’m not sure anyone is any cleaner after immersing themselves in something that looks like Rudyard Kipling’s “great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees”, but with rubbish floating in it rather than nose-pulling crocodiles).
As I got ready for a well-deserved bath on Sunday evening, I was thinking more in terms of the beautiful Queen Cleopatra’s idea of ablution therapy, but was happy to settle for hot water and bubbles instead of asses milk.
I had just put an end to a long and tiring Sunday. I had got up that morning to face the result of abandoning my post on the family war front for an entire week: dirty washing had partied madly in corners then gone forth and multiplied, invading the entire house with more enthusiasm and determination than a family of fleas discovering a dogs’ home. It was everywhere: piled forlornly on floors, lurking dangerously under beds, escaping Houdini-like from baskets, draping lamely across bedroom furniture and hanging despondently off chairs.
So I had stiffened that legendary British upper lip, pulled up my sleeves and spent my day waging battle against the evil Lord of Laundropia, a dimension that organised parents have only roamed in their worst nightmares. In the depths of Laundropia, fear clutches your entrails whilst scantily clad, zombie-like children wail and moan “I need soooocks, Muuuuuuuuum” from behind the perilously unstable mountains of filthy clothing. However, I am a fearless and experienced traveller of this particular realm, and the super intervention squad (Candy the washing machine, Desmond the drier, Ivy the iron and myself) had made a cracking job of getting the mutiny under control. I was now gunning for the ultimate reward: a hot bath and a good book.
Once in the bathroom, however, the only thing I had in common with Cleopatra was an insatiable desire to throw P.F. to the crocodiles. My off-key rendition of The Bangles’ “Walk like an Egyptian” had ground to a halt when I clapped incredulous eyes on a teetering tower of bucket, trowel and other DIY paraphernalia dumped on the side of a bath I had cleaned in a post-flu haze less than 24 hours earlier. To add insult to injury, P.F. had left a generous, crunchy layer of dried plaster and flakes of ancient paint in the bottom of the bath. Although it would no doubt make a cheaper and very efficient alternative to Body Shop exfoliating gel and ensure a rear end smoother than the proverbial baby’s bottom, I was peeved.
I suddenly realised who contributed what to the waste pipes getting blocked on such a regular basis. I could, of course, have been more elegant and thanked my family for this opportunity to learn a new trade. After all, two years in a house with waste pipes the diameter of toothpicks has enabled me to evolve from what could be termed a “bog-standard” plumbing philistine to a sharp-shooting John Waynesse of the plumbing world. I can now draw my rubber plunger from its holster before you can say “Febreze”. Yes, I could have said thank you. But I didn’t. I was tired and I wanted my bath.
I scraped the evidence of P.F’s plastering orgy out of the bath, cleaned it and filled it with hot water and fragrant bubbles. Climbing in, I grabbed my Chosen One from the bath mat (a chick lit charity shop orphan penned by the fabulous hand of Marian Keys). At last, some luxury.
Or so I thought. Any mother knows that it is impossible to have a bath without being interrupted. Within five minutes, my family had rumbled me. The bathroom door shook with what I first thought was Godzilla trying to force the door down. On checking, I established that it was Little My, hell-bent on evicting me from my haven of bubbles, heat and fragrance to give her some clean sheets. After two refusals to get the sheets herself, I said “Ok, sweetheart. Go downstairs and look for the tall guy with dark hair and blue eyes, and ask him: he’s your father”. This was met with a stony silence from the other side of the door; as I have already discussed in an earlier post, fathers get asked one question: “Where’s Mum?” All the others, ranging from where their school bag is to why men have nipples, are generally for us.
Ten minutes later, a dull throbbing noise started up outside the door, and I swore in my usual feminine way. After finding the sheets, P.F had pulled out one of his favourite toys – a hand-held sander – and seemed intent on boring his way through the bathroom wall. I held out for five minutes, then gave up on the bath and pulled out the plug. Phase two of “Operation Clean-o-Patra” was abandoned: I was no longer in the mood.
Opening the door of the bathroom, I was greeted by a white haze. It looked strangely as if my home had been hastily transformed into a cocaine dealer’s production line. I followed the foot prints in the generous dusting of plaster dust on the floor, and was rewarded by the sight of P.F appearing out of the fog with a power tool clutched in his hand, blue eyes beaming out of a powdered, white face. “Had a nice bath, then?” Hmm. Now, let me see……
I’ll leave you what I think is a very original version of “Walk like an Egyptian”. This is what happens when bluegrass country music meets The Bangles, and I think it’s fabulous.