When I was young, we mostly used to wash in the kitchen sink. Though my mother would regularly take me to the Bath House in Bermondsey for a once-all-over. I can still hear the often raucous voices of the working-class cubicle occupiers echoing up the municipal corridors, "More hot water in number six!" So even now some considerable years later, I still think of a private bath in my own home as something of a luxury. I find lying in the tub especially relaxing before a long drive to work, but it's also good for my throat, breathing the steam, and practical for such things that are not as easy in a shower, like shaving my toes. After several months of making do without a bath in my new home, the day had finally arrived for a brand new one to be installed! I had planned the afternoon to perfection.
I'd bought lovely fluffy new towels and luxury French soap, and a cherry blossom bath bomb stood waiting expectantly on my bathroom window-sill especially for the occasion. The Plumber would be finished by four, leaving about an hour to indulge before I had to take myself off to perform on stage in London. Everything was ready, utter bliss was on the agenda. I sat naked on the toilet seat watching with glee as the clean, sparkling water spilled into the oasis of calm. Anyone who had seen me would think I was mad getting so excited over water coming out of a tap. But I didn't care, in fact I was getting quite emotional by the time the bath bomb began to bounce and fizz. Ready for paradise, I plunged one foot in. At that very moment, there was a rather frantic knocking at my front door, followed by a petit Scottish drawl through my letter-box, 'Hellooooo? Is there anybody there?' It was old Mrs Calcuddy from two doors down. I paused for a moment, trying to decide whether to answer of just pretend I wasn't in. 'I can see your light on… it's an emergency…' Reluctantly, I stepped back out, dabbing my foot dry on the floor towel and throwing on a dressing gown. Since moving in, I had befriended the "Hebridean Hurricane”, as the other neighbours liked to call her. Short and fiery, she always seemed keen to stop and talk and I'd often wondered if she wasn't perhaps a little lonely. Though usually I did have to bloody concentrate just to decipher her broad accent. 'What's up?' I asked, poking my head around my front door. 'There's a pussy on my roof,' she exclaimed excitedly. ' It’s stuck. I know you like the wee monsters so I thought I’d ask you to help to get rid of it.’ I should just explain that she had previously mentioned she wasn't a fan of felines. In fact I'd once had to persuade her not to lob a house brick at one innocently drinking from her pond. 'I just had one foot in the bath,' I complained, thinking she may suggest an alternative solution. 'When are you washing the other one?' she joked with a giggle. 'Oh well then,' she sighed, 'I'll get my garden rake out the shed.' 'No, don't do that!' I cried. 'Just give me a moment and I'll get dressed.'
As I looked up from outside her front gate, I could see the cutest, tiniest grey and white kitten in a small pink collar, sitting anxiously in the guttering along her bungalow roof. Mrs Calcuddy handed me a short step ladder. My first attempt immediately under the kitten failed miserably, as the foot of the ladder sank into the lawn and tipped me into a crevasse between a huge lavender bush and the front wall. Mrs Calcuddy laughed, as did another neighbour of ours who had come out to watch the mounting drama. Now caked in mud created by an earlier shower, I pulled myself out from the shrubbery as it once again began to rain. The pussy’s plight had suddenly become more desperate, as indeed had mine. I reset the ladder on the front path thinking I’d have to climb on the roof, but thankfully the kitten ran along the gutter to meet me. Sodden and frightened, the poor little thing cried to me for help. ‘Have you got a blanket or something I can wrap her in?’ I asked. ‘It must have shimmied up the drainpipe like a rat. Just catch it in a bin bag and throw it over next door's fence,’ she cackled, handing me a clean fluffy tea towel. ’Ay, you've a wee wicked way with you, Mrs Calcuddy,’ I smiled. ‘You won’t need to wash the other foot now, it’s already wet,’ she observed un-sympathetically. By the time I had returned the baby to the address on her collar and got back indoors, I had little or no time left to languish in the bath. The cherry blossom powder from my bath bomb had sunk to the bottom, giving the appearance of a large colourful empty fish tank. As I put my foot back in, I realised that the water was now cold. I would just have to take a quick shower as usual. Feeling sorry for myself, I thought for a moment about the little kitten - warm and safe, snuggled up at home with her family. Suddenly, my self-indulgence didn’t seem quite so important. My toes could for the moment remain hairy and my night of unbridled ecstasy in the bathroom could very easily wait until another day.
Don't forget you can see Jeff at Molly Moggs in London's SOHO on Monday and Thursday nights where Jeff performs his famous Sing along show, (Always a great night out)
You can also see what else Jeff has been up to by visiting his brand new website here:
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