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.