When you stay overnight with friends, there will come a moment where they will feel compelled to explain how their shower works, as if only yesterday the invention stopped us all sluicing in puddles.
The explanation will nearly always involve a demonstration, at which point we will both troop into the bathroom so the host can point at the shower while they speak, and show me the taps. My response to such wonders will be to nod gravely in the manner of a visiting expert, possibly the Antiques Roadshow Shower Specialist (with a forte in 1980’s stainless steel).
All showers, enthuse their owners, are a little temperamental. You have to coax the hot tap and caress the cold until you get water that won’t scald or freeze off your assets. Every person I stay with has a different technique – I am waiting for the one that says the shower will only work if you knock three times on each tap before serenading the thing with songs from MGM musicals. It’s the bathroom equivalent of OCD – soon I will have to touch everything shiny in the room just to be allowed to get some water out of its annoying, sprinkly head.
And that’s if the shower is a straight-forward affair, god forbid if it has a lever to switch it between shower or bath, or a switch to turn on before you step in, or basically anything. Some showers I have been introduced to are like an assembling puzzle on the Krypton Factor.
‘So switch this on before you enter the bathroom, and then stamp on the dodgy floorboard, and then feel up both radiators just because everyone always feels up radiators, and then turn that switch, move that lever and then the dial behind controls the temperature so keep an eye on that as it creeps, turn on the taps and off you go! Oh but if you forget the exact order of what I have just said then you’ll turn on the neighbour’s bath instead, cause a flood and drown his cute kittens. Enjoy!’
It’s a shower, I want to say, how hard can it be? Yet I am never puzzled or amused by the demonstration of the shower, it’s an expected ritual when staying somewhere overnight. If the host does not mention the shower, I will be compelled to ask about it, and whether it is ‘easy to use’. What am I expecting, the Einstein of showers? Some sort of MC=Shower to complete before I get in? But just as I am never puzzled to be shown a shower, despite my thirty-odd years of experience with such watery things, so the host will never be curious as to why I have asked.
And no matter how many explanations or demonstrations, I always without fail will turn the bath on first, but at least no cute kittens have come a cropper. Yet.