Monday, May 14, 2007

Splish Splosh

Went shopping for a bathroom. We had drawn up a list of six showrooms to look round. We took the baby and the four-year-old with us. Shopping with children concentrates your mind. We selected the bathroom in the first shop. The baby was wailing so loudly, I did not think we would make it to another. We had to keep putting the children in the baths to quieten them. The baby got very confused because the baths were, of course, empty. Empty of water. Full of my children. I think the showrooms miss a trick. I think sales staff should wander round in bathrobes and shower caps with outsized sponges and rubber ducks. It would, at least, entertain the children so you could get into the bath and try it on for size.

We were picking out "the grown-up" bathroom. I wanted a sleek, sharp modern bath with "an edge". I got a roll top. I wanted one of those toilets you hang off a wall that you can mop underneath. Not that I wanted to mop underneath it. I just wanted to tell my mother I could. The only wall hung toilet didn't match the bath (I didn't want). We ended up with a traditional toilet with a pedestal, a cistern high up on the wall and a chain you pull. Like school. I may have to take up smoking very fast in confined spaces. Preferably with my best friend.

There was a moment. The baby was crying; the four year old demanding I attach his moulded red plastic Power Ranger to the rocket; and my husband said if we went with the taps and shower I wanted for the bath (I still didn't want), they would obscure the view out of the window. I thought: "Do you know what? Fundamentally. I don't care. In a month or so, I won't even notice. Let's just decide something and go."

These shops, these catalogues are trying to sell you a different life. Not a bath. Not a toilet. It is one of the reasons I am finding doing up the house so intensely irritating. One catalogue tells me: "More than just a bowl to rinse your razor, clean your teeth, this is `art`." It goes on to remind the reader "today's bathroom" is "about feeling good. The simple pleasure of your own space and the sheer unashamed enjoyment of quality." As if your bathroom was a blank, tasteful bathroom in an overpriced boutique hotel where you are anonymous and rich; beautiful when naked; where you can close the door on reality and someone else picks up the sodden towels afterwards. As if your life was like that; a life of sanctuary, taste and the perfect shower spout.

Perhaps, I might feel differently if I thought there was ever a chance I would be able to spend any amount of quality time in it. The one thing I did like was the sink. I am not sure about "art". It is round and stone; it looks like I could baptise the baby in it. Which I may have to since the last time I went to mass (not including funerals) was Christmas.

We had already been bathroom shopping in one of those shopping warehouses where you buy food in bulk and televisions that think they are cinemas. There were some very large shoppers in that very large shop. People so large you wondered whether they shopped in bulk because they ate in bulk. You wanted to point at their trolleys and ask: "Ever wondered why you're fat? Stop shopping here. Shop somewhere normal. It will cost more. You will eat less. You will get thinner. "

I should not scoff. I look at the boys some mornings. I say: "Did you grow last night?" They are taller than they were when I put them to bed. There are other mornings when I look at my hips. I say: "Did you grow last night?" They are bigger than when I put them to bed. Doubtless, there will come a day when I will heave myself, rippling and sodden, out of my luxury bath, abandon my village shops and insist we go shopping with a forklift.

16 comments:

Michael said...

We just signed a contract to undertake home renovations on our desert dwelling of 14 years. It was our plan to do this 10 years after moving in.

Silly open plan, this house has. The "archway" between the kitchen and the family room is large enough to push a car through...sideways.

One way to prevent yourself from getting too big: make sure that the new plan puts all the food behind narrow doors. Once your hips get too big...oops, can't get to the food anymore.

Livvy U. said...

Hello. I'm glad you're back. While you were writing this post, I was writing mine, in response to your last. So I'm glad you're back. If you have a moment, please come and see.
Our shower is held up by sellotape.
I'm glad you're back.
Livvy

Minx said...

That sounds like my kind of bathroom. Our bath came from an old hotel in St Ives. It took seven burly men to get it up the stairs (cast iron) and twenty-three plumbers to fit back the original taps. There was a time when we could all fit in it together but times change, hips grow and being naked in the same room as your mum is no longer an option or a life choice! Oh the days!

sunshine said...

I vividly remember that as a young mother, the most artistic, enjoyable, useful item in the bathroom was the lock on the door!

Just remember to get one that you can pop open from the outside. One day the baby will decide she needs some quiet, alone time, and push it from the inside.

The Good Woman said...

Thought you might like to know (as you navigate the bathroom bazaar/bizarre) that I actually envy you this challenge. I haven't lived in my own home for about 6 years. As I move about living with other peoples' curtains, carpets, kitchens and, yes, bathrooms, I wish for the ownership of a spot that I can fill with my own compromises.

Chin up!

aims said...

You made me laugh at a time when I absolutely need it - thank you.

Mopsa said...

Today the lovely woman in the bakers said her daughter wanted a crocodile to put in their bath. The ultimate bathroom accessory.

The Grocer said...

You never meed abandon your Village Shops, you can simply take advantage of our free delivery service :)

jane said...

Hey Wifey,

Did you say "toilet"? I thought you were posh! You will never get any member of your family married off to a Royal if you keep saying toilet instead of lavatory. At least you don't say "bog" like we do in Birmingham.

Glad you're back:)

Iota said...

Hope you got one of those self-cleaning baths...

sophie said...

your roll top bath will look fab in your cottge; save the modern bath for your apt overlooking the Thanes, which will be your first purchase when you are a famous author.

Elsie Button said...

I didn't realise how world famous you are! (a little slow on the uptake, ((although was busy having a baby at the time)). there is just one thing worrying me... you are amazingly honest in your writing, and often mention the people around you etc, and now that everyone knows who you are, do they not get upset? ie. neighbours, parents at the school etc. and do you not mind them all knowing your inner most thoughts? that is my worst fear, someone local reading my blog and thinking 'that's me she's slagging off'. by the way, i am addicted to your blog now - it's brilliant! when's the book coming out?! elsie

The thinker said...

Just make sure that the high level flush has room to store gallons of water and is not a miniscule modern 'must save the planet and save water' type. The modern tanks take 2/3 flushes [or more if you're unlucky] to clear the pan and you use the same amount of water in the end. You also use up more time peering into the pan!

Did you mean sodden towels or so**ing towels?

Finally, make sure your art farty basin has a lip around it to stop the soap and water splashing all over the clean floor everytime it's used.

jane said...

Hi Elsie Button, for an answer to your question, see "The Sound of Gunfire" April 27th. See what fun you missed!

botogol said...

"one of those toilets you hang off a wall that you can mop underneath"

Now that I'd like to see a photo of...

You'd want to make sure you'd *absloutely definitely* located the stud beneath the platerboard when you screwed one of those monkeys to wall..

aims said...

BTW - we just installed one of those corner showers with the glass walls and my hubby said he hoped he didn't develop the Goldfish Sydrome - you know - the one where you grow in proportion to your glass bowl...

I also wanted to note that anonymous comments are not allowed anymore. It makes it so much nicer to read the comments - and did you ever guess when you first started to blog that so many people would become involved in your life??