“Perhaps so,” I replied, “but now if you will excuse me I could use a hot bath!” So I staggered upstairs, threw all my wet clothes over a chair and immersed myself in the warm bath which Jeeves was already running.
That was the life of the incomparable Bertie Wooster.
Ah Mr Wooster, the finest creation from magical quill of P G Wodehouse. His loafing existence is littered with stolen policeman’s helmets, bun fights at the Drones Club, hiding from mad aunts and pontificating about what outfits suit specific occasions. Moreover, his sagacious valet Jeeves is an ever present with studious advice or a hot drawn bath.
And, as sure as eggs are eggs, the sun sets in the west or a Spanish lady sounds irate; Mr Wooster could rest his eyes at night, with the comforting knowledge that his man would have a bath, breakfast and freshly pressed clothes ready in the morn. Not to mention the ‘Jeeves’ patent hangover elixir’ if the prior evening had gotten onto the bouncy side.
Unfortunately, in 2016 a decent factotum is difficult to come by, let alone afford. Us old bounders have to make do all alone. No toast and marmalade on a clinking tray or the temperature of our bath decided by wiser men than us. Furthermore, we must choose whether to bathe or to shower. The decision alone is enough to cause a hangover.
Although there is unquestionably a bath body and a soul designed for the shower, the poser is not as clear cut as that. I am without doubt a gentleman who likes a soak and no, dear reader, that is not because I’m an old soak but because of the tranquility it creates.
Not to say that I don’t enjoy a shower in the morning to spark one into activity or a post sporting lather under an in-door rainstorm. Great fun and one is even able to belt out a few verses of ‘Thine be the Glory’ and charge at whatever the day might purpose.
However, like a Big Mac or a peach cobbler, there is something quite uncomfortably American about a shower. It is fast, unmemorable and one ends up squirting far too much neon-coloured shower gel all over the place!
A bath – like a comfortable pair slippers or a trusty waistcoat – is an event to savour. Unlike the shower, where one is out the house before it has started, the bath takes time.
The bath is the Guinness of personal hygiene.
Now, gentlemen, no matter how much your better half tries to convince you – candles and sonar tracks of whales mating are not therapeutic. Always remember that a ladies bath is another level of skill that us woolly headed men do not understand!
I like to bathe in water that the devil constitutes as scalding; hot enough to boil an ostrich’s egg is a decent thermometer. The key ingredient to any bath is, of course, the bubbles and I am fan of lavender, rosehip and orange. A veritable bouquet of smells that fill the steamed bathroom.
At this point I must note that oils and salts do not have the same bubbly effect. In fact, I would rather take a wet kipper to the kisser than find myself sliding around in such an oleaginous tub.
Thankfully I have the imagination to stare at porcelain for hours on end and dream of polar bears and cricket whites. But, for others an activity is needed. I have often tried to read in the bath but find it unrewarding, usually resulting in a wet book or a distinct lack of blood in my hands. No, my dears, a simple radio with people discussing sport suffices; an afternoon soak with Test Match Special being the ideal, hopefully with Henry Blofeld or Daniel Norcross on shift.
20 minutes is enough for me, or half perhaps stretching to half an hour at the max if the cricket is good. After a quick shave I’m fresh and my mind is cleansed like my pores. The worries of the world seem to get caught in the steam and drift merrily into the ether.
It is plain to see, for me at least, that it is certainly not a question of whether to shower or bath but rather – like a dishwasher – when to rinse or when to soak.
Oh Mr.Wooster, you never had it so good!