Magazine article The Spectator

A New Man in My Life

Magazine article The Spectator

A New Man in My Life

Article excerpt

The Victorians are supposed to have taken up washing with enthusiasm. So it's surprising they didn't put more bathrooms in the houses that they inherited from their grubbier ancestors. It's still not uncommon to come across a country house with 12 bedrooms and two bathrooms. We, however, have been luckier. The previous owners of this house created several new bathrooms and their son went positively overboard in the old coach house. The flat has a vast, scarlet bathroom with two freestanding baths facing one another. They are currently being enjoyed by the perfect tenants - a young French couple whom we never see or hear. Perhaps they are always washing.

The bathrooms in the main house are more conservative, although the mirrored walls in our own took a bit of getting used to. It can be quite unnerving sitting on the loo and seeing what appears to be half a dozen other people doing the same thing all around you. Still, the mirrors look very smart and our only real complaint is that everything in the bathroom soon broke down. For the past couple of years I've had to flirt with the loo to persuade it to flush and I've been getting hit in the eye by a jet of water whenever I've turned the bath taps on. You may wonder why I didn't get hold of a plumber. Well I tried, but we have an ,estate plumber' and these men are like gods. You have to pray that they will make a miraculous appearance and bring the bidet back to life. Normal channels don't work.

The estate plumber knows every sink and radiator in every cottage and farmhouse on the estate. He put most of the systems in and is, supposedly, the only person who knows how they work. This makes him as unsackable as the `estate electrician'. So if he doesn't feel like examining your taps this month, he won't. I was so grateful for the visits he did make that I didn't complain when he told us we would be mad to get new taps for the bath - `they don't make them like that anymore' - and that our loo was as well as could be expected. …

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