06 August, 2006

Washed up

I haven't had a bath since 2003.

This is not through laziness or poor hygiene, but by design. The last bath I took, and will probably ever take, was followed about 30 seconds later by an alarming attack of flashing lights inside my eyes, a rush of blood to the brain and me staggering through to my bedroom in order to ensure that if and when I did pass out I wouldn't bang my head by falling onto the floor.

The experience was so traumatic, even though it had passed in about half an hour, that I resolved to never put myself willingly into a position where I might suffer such an ordeal again. And luckily, given showers exist and will assuredly continue to exist for a good many years to come, there have always been alternative ways to keep clean that don't involve lying down in a tub of hot water.

It's unfortunate, because I always used to like baths - even when I was really young, when convention dictates you're supposed to hate them, especially those on a Sunday evening in order to get you spruced up for a return to school the following morning.

One of the happiest aspects of my one year in a university hall of residence (and there weren't many) was the discovery of quite the largest bath I had ever seen, in which I used to soak for a good hour or so of an evening while my neighbours were carousing in the junior common room downstairs. I don't think they ever found out about this. In fact I know they didn't, because one time I head them sincerely pondering my "absence" just outside the bathroom door, unaware I was a mere two metres away.

Later, when I lived in Aigburth in Liverpool, I would purposefully run a deep bath on Sunday nights, especially during winter when the place was always bitterly cold, and lie in it for ages, usually listening to a sequence of easy listening programmes on Radio 2. I acknowledge that this kind of behaviour, for a twentysomething, was hopelessly anachronistic. But I was living alone, and I did it because I could. Besides, I needed some way of keeping warm.

Now that pleasure is denied to me, and the same way some people can't drink beer sitting down, I can only wash standing up. Given there's a drought on, it's probably just as well. But what I've gained in efficiency, I've undoubtedly lost in quality of life.


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