Friday, June 25, 2010
I have a dirty confession to make - I bathed last night!! So unpolitically correct to admit it considering our dam levels are at a critical level here in Port Elizabeth, but frankly I couldn't give a dam!
I care about our water situation but last night I needed to relax, meditate and pamper myself and I can only achieve this result in over a foot of steamy, foaming, scented bathwater surrounded by candlelight.
I can't remember when the bath tub and my sanity became linked. I was born into a home without a bathroom - baths were taken in front of the fire in the front room. Thankfully I have no recollection of this as we moved out to the suburbs when I was aged three. I remember being taken to see the building progress of our new semi, climbing the wide stairs and finding myself in a pristine white bathroom. I hopped into the empty bath and sat there fully clothed trying it out for size.
Most of my childhood was spent trying to avoid water - particularly soapy water. Moving to the country from the cobbled streets and Victorian terraces of town was like moving to a new world. We tramped through fields to school and dawdled on the way home collecting natures treasures - sycamore wings and conkers, wild flowers and blackberries. Weekends were spent climbing trees, making dens in the farmers fields or swinging from ropes over water. We took our shoes and socks off and waded through the muddy brook looking for tadpoles and sticklebacks. We came home dusty and dirty in the evenings and when bedtime came, most nights it was a quick wash in the hand basin with a soapy flannel. Baths were something that happened reluctantly on Sundays.
Once at, primary school, when we were learning about graphs, Mrs Hamilton decided to demonstrate bar graphs by doing a classroom poll on how many of times a week we bathed. She asked,"Who bathes 7 nights a week?" then counted the raised hands and noted the answer as a block on the blackboard. I was amazed at the response. Then she asked who bathed six nights,then five ect. I realised at this point that I was in a definite minority and when it got down to three nights my arm shot up - there was no way my nickname was going to be Stinker!
Sunday night was for baths and hair washing there was a strict routine and pecking order as we all shared the water. The three girls bathed individually in age order - I was third as I am the youngest sister. Then the three boys jumped in together. After their bath the murky water went down the plughole and we watched TV in our pyjamas shiny faced and squeaky clean.
When I got into my teens, baths were an occasion to be planned. We had an immersion heater and with such a big family, hot water a precious commodity. You had to make sure that the immersion was switched on and that no one stole your bathwater. We had one bathroom that served a household of eight so baths were usually interrupted by loud door knocking and desperate shouts of "Hurry up - I HAVE to go NOW!"
The weekends were for partying so Thursday was pamper night for bubble baths, hair washing, facials and manicures. Thursday night water was Holy Water!
Married with young children, baths were rushed affairs fitted in between childcare, chores, cleaning, cooking and collapse. No leisurely soaks - there wasn't time - and often there was an uninvited guest to share the experience.
So just when I think I have earned the right to chill in a bath full to my chin with bubbles, I find myself living on a dry continent. The planet decides to change its weather patterns and its raining in the wrong place at the wrong time. The dams are drying up and my precious bath water is in jeopardy. A shower is a wonderful thing in the morning or when you have spent time on the beach or in the garden but a bath - sigh - I would love to relax, meditate and pamper myself in some steamy, foaming, scented bathwater surrounded by candlelight every single night. Mrs Hamilton would be proud of me!