Aah, a hot bath – archive, 28 January 1936 | Life and style

Just a spot more hot from that supply which you have so lovingly conserved for this moment of scarcely perceptible diminution in that superb, that liquid, melting warmth that buoyantly enfolds you. To this haven you have attained through a barrier of scalding heat, through a frantic period of toe-dipping and flicking, with just enough self-command remaining not to ruin all by too easy a recourse to “the cold”; through a phase of immersion by instalment, when your legs assumed a lobster hue and you clenched your teeth upon the cry of parboiled agony. But it was worth it. You have achieved perfection. You reach out a languid hand to the hot tap and sink back into the depths lulled, comforted, secure, as the new water wells round you.

How remote in your history lies the lure of the hot bath! To your nostrils as you roll over floats the familiar emanation of white enamel and from a watery past rise the long-perished forms of long-ago bath-mates. The white celluloid swan, battered but disdainful, swooping in majestic circles on the mock-stormy water, the fat duck, whose domestic existence was at last rudely ended by total loss when in tow off Margate Pier, the small olive-green lizard which rested so cosily upon your semi-submerged chest, the soap that floated entrancingly upon the surface. How reluctant and intermittent your attention to the unimportant matter of getting your knees scrubbed, how vastly more urgent the detection beneath the beclouded depths of the china tortoise, whose whereabouts were usually determined only by sudden and sometimes painful contact. How delicious those days when dimensions still permitted a luxurious swishing of your person up and down a judiciously soaped area. When even the inevitable moment of landing led straight to the solace of a capacious lap, a large, warm, fluffy towel, to biscuits and milk in bed.

You really must get out. The walls and mirror are dewy; the electric-light bulb looms diffused through a warm mist. Can it be that you are almost too hot? Your book (height of decadence!) lies open and drooping on the soap-rack. Shaking the main moisture from your finger-tips you turn a page, two … three. You really must get out. It is turning chilly. Just one more wallow. You submerge. That was rather a nice hat you saw in X’s window to-day . . . but is it just the shade of red that would go with your new coat? You will have to see soon about getting your eiderdown re-covered. . . Would it be better green, or gold to go with the curtains? And supposing you go to Wales for your holiday this year. . .

Heavens! Twelve o’clock. A snatch, a bound, and you are on the mat. Behind you a swift rushing, a piteous gurgle. The sponge lies forlornly stranded. You seize the towel. . .

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