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Taking that Special Bath

Now and then you need that special bath. Not a shower or a regular bath, one that merely cleanses the body, no. You need a bath that lifts the spirit and balms the soul. For this you need personal preparation, and, above all, you need time. And what better place to have one than in your newly renovated bathroom?

The guest bathroom was the one room in your house to have escaped attention. It was not your domain but that of guests, who would use it for short visits during dinner parties, although it must be stressed some guests took longer. Some spent so long there you either started fearing for them or envied them. Unless it was Graham, in which case you knew. Not that you would have wanted to spend much time or more than a penny there. The tiles were of an overbearingly streaky pink. The boxed-in bath was uninviting. The cupboard perfunctorily tucked away towels and the like, and the hand basin did its job. The floor tiles, of the self-same streaky pink, were uneven; the grouting was coming loose and one or two tiles were thinly cracked in places. Yes, your comfort station was chokingly at odds with the rest of the house. You could only have spent more time there than the minimum necessary for ablution if you introspected instead of actually looked around. So after much agonizing you have it renovated in a Victorian style, or more precisely faux Victorian, as Graham gleefully points out at every opportunity.

Old bathroomNew bathroom 1

Now, time to do your toilette for the first time in your new bathroom. First, a good old fashioned shave. For this use a badger hair brush to work up lather from a sandalwood bowl of Truefitt & Hill luxury shaving soap, Established 1805, St. James, London. Apply to the face in gentle circles, with just enough pressure to tingle. Then shave it off with long, deliberate strokes of the matching razor. When perfect, give yourself a squint in the mirror, then pat your face dry with a luxurious towel, feeling the fibres as you do so. Finish off with a splash of eau de cologne for that rounding off finish. Then undress slowly to full nakedness which is not merely a state of being unclothed but a state of being. You are now ready to bath.

New bathroom shaving

Take a handful of bath salts and mix it into the warm water. To this add an exotic soap which foams up to the rim. Now climb in, one leg over the side, then the other, crouch, settle down and recline against the back of the slipper bath. Shut your eyes, just lie there for a few minutes breathing consciously and emptying your mind, letting go of any cares. Ten minutes later budge again. Feel around the misty glow for the sponge, drench it with foam and apply it in long strokes all over your torso… then lie back again, languidly. What to do? Read? Perhaps. Literature comes in the form of a waterproof edition of Aqua Erotica 2 which is kept open by a bath lectern. No, not today. Rather put your head back and shut your eyes again. Soft music would soothe, but silence is better…

New bathroom 2

Thoughts of noteworthy figures who have lain in baths might pass through your mind, like Alexander or Cleopatra or Marcus Aurelius or the French revolutionary Marat who was murdered in one. How does Graham lie in his non-faux bath? You can’t imagine. So slip back into the bath and let the water wash away.

Time passes. Who cares. The water does, it cools off a bit. Let some out, turn the tap levers and run in some hot water again, mixing it up with twirls of your legs. Perfect. Then lie back and slow-live and don’t think. Slink into a still void as if caged in a brooding unreality of time and space. Your natural rhythm might be fast-paced, anxious and play itself out in the near future, but here, for now, just exist. The future continuous may be your natural grammatical tense and mental habitat; it’s frenetic to live like that. What have you been doing to yourself! But here, now, you’re basking in the immediacy of living totally in the present, right in the moment. [Escapist interlude: Imagine yourself at last fled to that remote cave in Vietnam to which you’ve been threatening to flee, where you’ll be the saffron-robed acolyte of a guru or the epicene epigone of a minor sage…]

More time passes. Gradually your mind nudges you to move. Hose yourself down with the telephone shower as Victorians would have done and rise out of the watery foam in installments like a sloth up a tall branch. Step onto the mat, slowly, foot by foot, and reach for the soft-textured white bath sheet. Press it to your cheeks. It feels like silk. Towel yourself down and wrap it around your waist. Time to round off proceedings. Apply some moisturizer all over, comb back your still largely black hair and splash on some Comme des Garçons.

New bathroom Towels

Pull out the bath plug and watch the foamy water run out till the last spin of the last vortex in an arresting mesmerism, then retract. All is well. Time for one last look at yourself in the mirror. Try out some private facial poses, not forgetting to, for an instant, freeze your features into stern stolidity in case you’ll be needing to make a point in the serious world out there.

Now, what to wear? What look to adopt? Think person, think season, think venue, then go 1968 café soceité French: Long black trousers, black polo neck jersey, black-rimmed glasses (Theo’s). Pseudo-intellectual and chic you know, just so. Another splash of Comme des Garçons for overkill.

You’re now quite ready to step out for your rendezvous with Miki.