Friday, 17 August 2012

Fresh at Fradley


The Brazilians must be the cleanest nation on earth. When we went to work there I wasn't looking forward to all the B.O. in the crowded buses, given the heat. It was a non-issue. I soon learned that even the poorest rural Brazilian, with no access to running water, will rig up a perforated can so he can have a shower at the end of the day. After we'd been there six months, the 12 year-old daughter of our neighbours plucked up the courage to ask me: "Martin, is it true that in England  people don't shower every day?" (remember – this was 1980). Somewhat embarrassed, I  talked about the difference in climate and this and that, and probably left her very confused. But, in Brazil, my ablutions became Brazilian – at the end of the day, when you come home, shower and change your clothes before you do anything else. Eating your evening meal before you shower is anathema! Showering again in the morning is optional, but preferred. Any time you get too hot, have a shower! When we returned to the UK, the principle was ingrained, though the pattern changed a bit. No day had really started until I'd had my shower. As for putting on again any garment I'd worn the previous day – ugh! And so it remained for 25 years.

But then we started boating. Parked in the marina – fine. The showers are great. Out on the cut – good if you've been boating into the afternoon. There will still be some hot or at least warm water the following morning. But if you've been stationary since lunch-time yesterday, and especially if you want to make a quick and early start, it's a cold shower or nothing. At my time of life, that's a nothing. But it cuts violently across the habits of half a lifetime.

This morning we set out quick and early from Alrewas. I was unwashed and had yesterday's clothes on – it was disgusting! However, by the time we'd made it to Fradley, the water had heated and it was time for a break. My best beloved wandered down to look at the sights. I got in the shower. Wonderful! The relief was almost as great as the cleanliness.

Fradley was fresh in other ways today – wind and rain competing. During a reasonably dry spell we thought we'd make a run for it. The run continued … and continued. Lunch on the hoof. We'll make it to Rugeley, we thought … Wolseley Bridge. In the end we made it all the way to Great Haywood. Some day's boating! It's amazing what a good shower can do for you.

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