Sunday, July 27, 2008

What Highriser missed when overseas

God, the plumbing I experienced when travelling.

Big taps, little taps, levers, buttons, knobs, set temperature electrically controlled showers.

Toilet bowls of all shapes, some full of water, some with just water in the bottom, some that would disembowel you if you flushed while sitting on them, some operated by buttons, some by levers.

Rubber plugs, plugs on chains, metal plugs operated by knobs, levers, things you pulled, things you pushed.

But one thing bathrooms all had in common, from Singapore to London, to Newcastle, Hexham, Blackpool, Alnwick, and ferry.

They were all low pressure hand held showers. I did not have a decent shower for my whole time away. I continued to try and shower the way I normally do with shower head in the wall bracket but I had to give up at the caravan as the water pressure was just too low. It was now a case of wet myself, soap up, then rinse off. Horrible.

The worst was the farm near Alnwick. The bathroom was modern enough, but if the shower head was lifted chest height, the water went cool. If it was lifted head height, the water stopped altogether. It was a case of squatting in the bath to use the hand held shower.

The only time I felt really clean was when I had a bath at the caravan in the hip bath, it took an hour to run, and one in Blackpool in the lovely big bath.

So far as I could tell, the boilers provided instant hot water and the water for the heating radiators. There seemed to be no such thing as mains pressure hot water.

It can't be because of water shortage. The toilets all used huge amounts of water and a dual flush is rare in England, although, they tended to need only one flush, unlike ours that require multiple flushes.

The nicest thing I did when I arrived home was get straight into my own shower, with hot water gushing out the non water saving shower head. Bliss as it warmed me, washed away the grime, stress, woes and worries. My shower is my mental therapy. Next time I travel, I think I will take my own shower head, thread tape and a shifting spanner.


  1. Showers are powerful instruments of indulgence. There's no question of that.
    There are some showers that have multiple 'heads' - shooting water from every direction.

    It's also 'pleasurable' to have a really harsh jet of water...if you know what I mean (which I'm sure you do).

  2. Pissweak showers were all around Europe, and particularly Britain, last time I was there in '99.

  3. Can't stand low pressure systems that you have to run around, like a demented pigeon, to get wet!

  4. I think I know what you mean Reuben.

    Wonder why Daniel.

    Just not enjoyable is it Jayne.

  5. I steadfastly refuse our local council's entreaties to exchange our geriatric shower head for the ergomonically/environmentally correct apparatus.

    The one thing guaranteed to set the day off on a seriously bad note is a piddly piss-poor shower stream.

    I salve my conscience by religiously collecting the shower water for the garden, but nothing will keep me from a comfy, toasty warm, nicely pressured shower.

    (Any time you want to save water Jayne, the key's under the flower pot housing the biggest aspidistra in ze vorld.)

  6. Golly me but I feel so advantaged, I can take or leave hygiene and I leave it for months. But yesterday I had a bath and last night joined the Werribee long table at a place called the Steak House, you probably know it: ground floor of an anthill called St Kilda Road Towers. I know you live nearby and was inspired to yell "Hoy!- Highriser!" but the boys don't like that sort of thing.

  7. When I was in Ireland over a decade ago I nearly cried over some of the tragic shower arrangements. Woodstove (small) to heat the water for the bath. Damn flannel and kettle at one place. B&B that didn't have any hotwater at all for some reason during the day. Bluddy freezing.

  8. When the water people up here had one of those things where they come and put water saving devices on your taps etc... I was surpised when he asked if I wanted a hand held shower, because that's what I already had. It's the best shower I've ever had... I fail to see how it saves water... that and that I stay in there much longer because it's so enjoyable.

  9. I grew up on a farm with tank water and very very low water pressure form the pump. When I moved out of home at 18 yrs of age I was wrapped to find we had mains hot water and the pressure was great! I still have short showers, but it is bliss compared to what I had growing up..oh, and also, I don;t have to run around in circles just to get wet in the shower haha

  10. I grew up five kilometres from the CBD in a little wooden house with cold tap and no bathroom because the old man sold the cast iron tub to buy booze. How's that. And I walked to Hawksburn primary every day with dirty face and hair uncombed and no one said boo until a woman plucked me off the street for a wash one morning, wow. What a cheek.
    No one ever died from not having a wash. Read the headstones. What did people do in colonial days, huh?
    There's never been a time in history when the degree-holding little bourgeoisie have been more hysterical about personal cleanliness, it sends them crackers. They hate me more for wearing my underdangers eight weeks in a row than for voting conservative. Honestly.
    I had two young women living here who had so many showers they blew up the water heater. How's that. And they weren't bourgeois at all, just suckered by fashion, which is bourgeois or it's nothing.
    Forget ideology, forget it all, there isn't a modern miss in this whole world who wouldn't boot feminism straight out the door for a hot shower.
    You people are raised soft: indoctrinated in thrift and hygiene, taught cleanliness is next to godliness, but it ain't; it's next to madness, I haven't met a religious fanatic yet who wasn't loony about personal hygiene, one bloke I knew got under the shower every day with a bottle of pine-0-clean.
    I go weeks and months without a shower or a bath, if I'm itchy i'll have a scratch. When I do have a good wash I'll change my sheets, quite an event.
    What you're doing is removing protection from yourselves, and so then you're off to the doctor, you're off to the doctor every few weeks, I haven't been to a doctor in twenty years, that's when I went to Williamstown hospital with a broken toe and the Glen Iris-raised bourgeois nurse got nasty with me because I didn't "have a doctor". What a laugh. It was like I'd said Paris is a shithole. Meanwhile all the fake Parisians and New Yorkers along Brunswick Street sit there terrified of death. They sit there, coated in stinking perfumes and oils, cosmetics and greased hair.
    And I pass by, a clean man, having never been fucked up by bourgeois middle class fear.
    If it came down to one cup of water to save dying from thirst they'd tip it over themselves instead. Boneheads. Fops. Born to consume. And stay clean.

  11. Jayne has more class than that M'lord.

    I wonder if things have improved in that area in Ireland LiD? Probably not a lot.

    They are not so bad Jo if there is proper water pressure, but I am still not keen. I have one attached to my shower and I use it for shower cleaning, among other things.

    You weren't far away at all then Robert. I think you are well outvoted on the your version of cleanliness, but the paranoia about kids and germs is a valid point. They just don't build up a resistance to germs. Your personal history is interesting, but you would not have been the only kid with a single cold water tap at home.

    Same here Cazzie. A visit to the city with clean water and high water pressure was luxury.

  12. I was the only kid who became a world class philosopher at four years old, warmth would have ruined me.

  13. Garfield the cat is thirty today.

    Bobbie Gentry is sixty-four.

    -That's what you get when you fall in love.

  14. Just realised Robert, you were only about 100 metres away. I know nothing of Garfield except it is toy cat? I do recall the dirge that Bobbie Gentry sang.

  15. Garfield is a comic strip. I've never seen a laugh in it.
    I figured the place was just across the road from you. You could have come over.
    But what a swank. The plonk prices are chalked on blackboard, I saw $110 and $575. How modest. And outside there's tables with broken ashtrays.
    The joint was packed, including about twenty of us, coming and going. And the service was good, very friendly, nice looking waitresses (make up your own mind about the blokes, take a squiz through the window). The food was okay, and we were allowed to sing Happy Birthday. Golly. How's that.
    Well we would of course, who'd stop the long table from Werribee, ha ha ha!