Sunday, 6 October 2019


My eyes are dazzled by the sunshine flooding through my bedroom window.

This isn’t right.
No, not right at all.

Today I was meant to wake up and see lashing rain falling sideways from dark skies. The trees were supposed to be bending over in a gale, leaves green and brown ripped off branches, erupting up, tumbling down.

That’s what the weather app said, and the BBC, RTE and ah well, who cares?

Maybe today’s not going to be the day I finally clean my bathroom.

The outside world was going to look so menacing that I’d ripple a body shiver of comfort, turn on my bedside light and read my book eating a banana, luxuriating in the lack of rush.

Instead I’m now thinking of getting up, doing my stretches and going for a bike ride.
Blue skies, fresh air and staying alive.
That sort of thing.

No. This is neither about the weather nor my cardiovascular system.

This about the state of my bathroom, and the months I’ve managed to ignore its deterioration. 

Truth is ‘Bathroom’ might be too grand a term for it, as it has no bath and does not really qualify as a room.

If I stretch out my legs while sitting on the loo, my feet are in the shower.
If I bend forward, my head is in the washbasin.

Should I ever suffer the grave gastric indignity of ‘both ends burning’, I’ll be grateful that the lack of space in this house has inadvertently created a handy design feature.

Don’t be guilt-tripping me with all that ’What more could a man want?’

I’ve everything I’ll ever need, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss a bath.

Mind you, with size of me these days, even when I’m having a bath, there’s more of me out of it than in it.

Even this tiny space is bigger than the bathroom I had when I lived in the Claddagh. That effort was also nothing more than a plumbed cupboard, but it was cold; so incredibly cold that I’d lie awake in bed for hours, hanging on to that particular muscle for dear life, rather than suffer the freezing air.

It was physically impossible to dry my voluminous self in such a small space, so I had no choice but to step into the corridor, where on more than one occasion I gave my kind and stalwart landlady a right eyeful. and most unpleasant shock.

In this house I can cross the kitchen in half a step and two steps later be in front of the living room fire, giving it large with the towel in perfect privacy.

Enough with the blather, Adley, get on with the cleaning. Grab the wicker laundry basket and pile all the bottles of bathroom gubbins into it. Throw the mats in the laundry bin. Now move the loo library.

Ooooh, the loo library!

No no, don’t be going off down that route.
Don’t go convincing yourself it’s okay to take a few minutes off.

Don’t even think of using some kind of contrived excuse, like it’s taking a s
napshot of your life, when you peruse the Ladybird Books, nerdy etymological tomes, leaflets and magazines that make up your ablution entertainment centre.

They’re not going to fall for it.
Your colyoomistas are a pretty sassy bunch.

Okay, but I feel a confession coming on. In an act of pure self-indulgence, every week I buy the Sunday Mirror, just to read a tiny column written by Flavia Bertolini, the editor of the tabloid’s Notebook supplement.

She’s writing for young women about dresses and being a mother, so I’m far from her target audience, but I just enjoy her writing. Only talent can make a subject that fails to interest you a delight to read about.

Talking of talent, there in the the pile of books I’m carrying out of my bathroom is Juggling With Turnips by Karl MacDermott.

I’m often sent books and press releases, and Karl’s book accidentally languished for months in the offices of the Connacht Tribune, before it made its way to me. I found it an absolute delight, yet felt it was already too late to promote it, and that was last year.

Knowing, surreal, witty and true, MacDermott’s writing fits neatly into a particularly Irish literary slot: self-slagging satire.

I loved it and feel sure that the author won’t be offended by the way that his book has become a permanent part of my loo library.

Aha! Look! A slim volume of poetry, written by my friend Richard Nunn in the 1980s.

Affirmations from inside a Nepali jail cell accompany a prescient poem, written 15 years before Greta Thunberg was born. Entitled Why Oh Why, it concludes:

“The seasons are changing
And it might not be too long,
When we cry out loud,

Adley! Come on man! Focus!
There’s mildew to be scrubbed off grout.

Focus focus focus.

“Small?” they said, when I moved in here. “Less to clean!” they said.

“True!” says I now, out loud to invisible people long gone, “But less space to clean in!”

By contorting my not so supple middle-aged frame like an arthritic python, I manage to reach and clean the murky corners of my shower.

A few hours later the tiny space is gleaming.
The grout is white, the tiles shiny, the shelves spotless and the floor mopped.

Grunting and groaning as I stand up, my back muscles and hamstrings let me know they wouldn’t mind a little break.

Outside black skies unleash torrential rain.

A sad self-congratulatory part of me wants to sit on the loo and revel in the cleanliness. 

Instead I sink into my armchair, and listening to the wind, drift off into satisfied nap dreams of huge marble bath tubs, filled with steaming hot water…

©Charlie Adley

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