By Parson Thru
Bath. It’s a statement. It says “I’ve got time.” “Screw you.” “I’m laying here in this big clean foamy tub and I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to.”
It’s the fullest one I’ve ever run. When I lay down in it, the suds climb up the wall behind my head. I keep an eye on the water just lapping below the edge and think about what a disaster it would be if I had to jump out and mop up a flood before it ran into the flat below. I hear the satisfying gurgle of excess water running through the overflow and relax.
The water’s hot, but not scalding – I ran a little cold in at the very end. It got pretty deep because I’ve just found out the chords for “Tangled up in Blue”. Quite a distraction if you’re me. It’s taken me a little while to lean right back into it. Someone told me hot baths reduce your blood pressure – make it really low. I have a heavy cold. Maybe it’ll sweat that out of me. I sink down a little further and my brow pours sweat into my eyes.
I always bring a wooden stool in to put books and reading-glasses on. I’ve soaked so many good books by reaching down and running bathwater onto them. I’ve started reading “Bound for Glory” again. I’ve got a whole load of books on the shelf to re-read. My notebook’s also on the stool – except I forgot to bring a pen. I thought about slopping into the lounge to get one, but that would only introduce fluff and bits of dirt into the bath.
Apart from these thoughts, my head is gloriously empty – a luxury. I remember once, when I was first getting to grips with studying, I used to struggle to think anything much for long. My head was always filled with some song or other. Always a tune. I have an image of going through one of those sub-surface tunnels on the London Underground and almost forcing the music to stop so I could work on something in my head. Now I often wish those days were back.
I read through a few pages of Woody’s book. I finished the first chapter last night and now he’s introducing Okemah – comes from a Native American word. Fitting, as I’ve just finished reading “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” – Chief Bromden. Last week, I heard the first cuckoo I can remember hearing clearly, from the walls of Bergamo’s Citta Alta or upper city.
Pretty soon, my glasses are steaming up so badly that it’s hard to read. I pick up my notebook instead. It opens at a page I was scribbling on while riding the last train home from Bristol on Thursday night.
“Oh, you pretty things
if only you could see
that the last train down to Exeter
and the bells of Bergamo
are moments in a miracle…”
I guess I became bored.
On the opposite page is a letter to my dad. His old Ford Fiesta passed what will probably be its last MoT test on Saturday. It’s a Dagenham Ford – dying of rust. It was his first and only new car, bought in his seventies. A brand-spanking-new Ford to top a lifetime of old bangers, which he managed to keep going through three-day-weeks caused by miners' strikes and short-time working brought on by action at Halewood and Dagenham car-plants in the 1970s. I learned the art of crawling under cars in the cold winter air from him. Learned self-sufficiency.
Time to wash my hair. It’s growing right down my back. I can’t be bothered to get it cut. I just tie it back. It’s fine.
I think I need to cool off. I intended to stay in here for hours – remember? “I’ve got time.” But my skin is glowing pink and my head’s beginning to sweat again. I have a quick wash with the suds and swill my face. It’s an effort to stand up – I pull the plug out on the way. That used to terrify me when I was a kid. I grab the towel and start drying my hair but give up. Too hot. The dressing-gown gets thrown on and I head into the front room. Looks like the sun’s shining.