If you have ever lived in a household where the residents have long hair, then you – at least one of you – will know all about the Bathplug Phenomenon.
If you are a nice, clean person, when you get out of the bath you will not walk away leaving a frowsty rime of indeterminate stuffness adhering to the sides of the bath – especially the roundy corners nearest the plug and the plimsoll line where the top of the water sat. Not you. Swathing yourself in a towel, the end gripped firmly under your left armpit, your hair turbaned up in another towel, you will grab the shampoo (or bicarbonate of soda, depending on your Cleaning Persuasion, for cleanliness is next to godliness and therefore has fiercely defended denominations and hierarchies of purity) and clean the bath conscientiously as the water goes down – thus wasting no extra water, but keeping things moving so the sides don’t get scummy as the tub drains. Gosh, that was a long sentence! No editors here, hahaha!
And somewhere in this proceedings your eye will fall upon the plughole (not literally, friend) and there spot a thin skein of hair wound round its metal divisions. A slender, diffident presence of hair, innocent in appearance. Assiduous in your bathly attentions, you drop the cloth and reach down to pull it out. It resists firmly. You tug a little harder. It comes loose. There is more than you first thought. Uh oh.
You know what comes next?
If you pull it steadily and gently, not yanking it or breaking it, you will draw forth a boggling splendour of yuck and grot, a foot or so of grey soapslimed lumpy hairwaste, a tangling (I inadvertently type tnagling and that’s an even better description) lanyard of human hair hanging grimly but impressively onto anything else that fell down there unnoticed.
Before you put it in the bin, you gaze at it in awe. You display it briefly to anyone you can find to flabberghast with its hideous gnarly length.
Sometimes writing a book can be E X A C T L Y like that. So it is right now. I have only just finished the last one and already one editor is serving me up bright ideas for future Bumper Collections and another is mailing me a contract for a devotional series and a small clutter of editing projects I’ve promised to do is muttering in the wings, threatening the peace of my natural indolence.
So I am, as they say, running on empty. I have to get alone with the Spirit of God, in the small hours of the night which is the only time total isolation and silence is guaranteeable in my experience, and Watch The Plughole of the empty white inner bathtub of mind, scoured clean of every clinging thought as my last project drained away.
And there, wound round the stainless steel symmetry of my discharged intellect, right there where the unseen plumbing descends on its mysterious journey into the hidden underground of my subconscious, behind the painted wainscot and below the varnished floorboards of the everyday, there I espy a slender strand, the coyly twining threads of an idea. I reach down . . . and gently, steadily, carefully begin to pull . . .
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
Mugs/cups/jug, some made by a Hastings potter, others mass-produced. We liked them but we have so many . . .
A musical biscuit tin that played Winter Wonderland (I know, I know – embarrassing, isn’t it) and various other bits of kitchen impedimenta.
Sunday Oct 14th – Wednesday Oct 18th
Ooh, there were some pretty things here! I loved that jug – but it encompassed a Snag I hadn’t thought of; impossible to clean. The speckled stoneware is made by a Cambridge potter, and I liked it a lot – but other household residents did not, and we have quite enough junk with the stuff we do all like. The casserole was just the sweetest thing – about big enough for one (so of course we never used it).
A bevy of hangers.
Two tin plates. One I liked, one I didn’t. The blue and white one was a favourite, but you know, tin plates – well, everything’s fine until you want to eat hot food. Oh – assuming you are as slovenly as I am and hardly ever eat sitting on a chair at a table but mostly curled up on a bed or a sofa with the plate in your hand or perched on the side of your knee. I am not good at sitting up straight. I had an Alexander Teacher for a short while when I was nineteen, principally out of curiosity; she said I had the laziest back she’d ever seen.