I would have thought that, after twenty-four years of getting up early to attend school/work, I’d be used to it. I have now reached the conclusion that this is impossible.
First thing in the morning is one of the most depressing times in a man’s life. It is an unavoidable truth that you’re awake at this ungodly hour simply to please someone else.
Using the bathroom is generally a boring and frustrating experience, and it, to me anyway, always has been.
Growing up, we had the twin-pronged annoyance of both a cruddy shower and a separate toilet that didn’t have a lock on the door. Showering was a miserable experience. The ancient extractor fan chugged into life when the light switch was activated, so each day at 6am it sounded like my dad was trying to start a Massey-Ferguson tractor on the landing.
When it was my turn to use the facilities the cubicle was inevitably flooded and all the bottles of shower gel would both be empty and floating around like rubber ducks. I would be forced to use soap, which would shoot out of my hand every nine seconds and required fishing out of the mire like poo in a birthing pool. This left me feeling disgusting and annoyed rather than cleansed and refreshed.
On the other hand, sometimes using the bog could almost be regarded as entertainment: a bit of an occasion. Especially on a Sunday evening after a roast dinner and plum crumble, provided you had some good reading material. If there was no newspaper to hand, the ingredients list on the back of the talcum powder had to do.
But in our house, this pleasure was often offset by a constant terror that the lock-less door would be thrown open. My mum was the worst offender here, often shouting ‘Stop monopolising the bathroom!’ as she marched up to the door– meaning: ‘How dare you use the bathroom for its intended purpose, you dirty little bastard. Get out of there so I can monopolise it instead!’
I now know why my dad preferred the downstairs toilet, despite the fact that its radiator stopped working sometime circa 1993 and lowering yourself on to the seat was like sitting on a giant horseshoe made of liquid nitrogen.
First shared house
When I first moved out, the new bathroom had a lock. Hallelujah! Unfortunately the shower was the grimmest thing in Christendom and I admit I almost cried most mornings I had to use it. My other housemates preferred to just avoid it and stink all day instead. Added to this misery was the fact that the toilet was almost always blocked (I was not responsible) and on one memorable occasion it overflowed. The carpet made a squelching sound for the rest of the month.
My current house
There should be a specific division of Sod’s law for bathrooms. No matter how many times you agree a schedule with your fellow tenants, nobody sticks to it. You’ve agreed that you’ll go in at 8.03 every morning and spend precisely seven minutes in there, clearing the way for your stablemate to barricade himself in there at 8.10 while you’re already dressed and sniffing your bottle of milk to see whether it will turn your cup of tea into rice pudding.
But at 8.03 the next day someone, having casually slept in, saunters in during your allotted time and spends the next fifteen minutes coughing and widdling, while you stand in your room, hair on end, bladder like a medicine ball and breath like fire, muttering unprintable things.
Eventually you’re driven to getting up at 4.58am just to make sure you can empty your bladder, de-whiff your armpits and return your hair to a non-vertical position in time to get to work.
And yet, there is still always someone in there.