By Darren Simpson
I do love a good soak. Nothing like it. ‘Charleston,’ I say. ‘Do be a good fellow and run the bath.’
‘Of course, sir,’ he says in rich, reliable monotone. Some Cognac, and then I head to the bedroom to be prepared by the maid.
Charleston opens the bathroom door for me, releasing a cloud of fragrant mist into the hall. It settles on antique surfaces in plump, silky beads.
I study my reflection in the faucet’s golden mouth and test the water with my toes. Carefully, I fold my gown and place it on the chair. I put my right foot in first, then the left, and slowly lower myself into the soft, lilac water. With only my face above the water, surrounded by lavender buds and creamy pearls, I close my eyes. My muscles untie themselves and spread like a warm eiderdown.
And this, my friends, is a beautiful bliss.
So you can imagine my dismay as the bath shakes free its brass legs and jumps through the French windows with a terrible crash. I hold on for dearest life as it gallops through the garden.
Gripping the porcelain sides, I look down and am relieved to find myself uninjured by broken glass. I call out to Charleston for help, but am too far away from the manor to be heard. I consider my predicament.
My first concern is the autumn air, which isn’t without its chill. After some consideration I wet my hands and find that, using the soapy water as a lubricant, I can slide my hands along the bath’s rim whilst maintaining a secure grip. This allows me to change my position regularly in a way that bathes alternating sides of my body in warm water.
I turn my thoughts to the preservation of modesty – a matter which becomes more urgent as I realise that the bath is heading for the village. With some experimentation I discover that the rapid gyration of the hips promotes a reassuring build-up of lather around my private sections. I therefore feel a little more at ease as the bath gallops through the Sunday market crowd. It throws its glistening bulk around, knocking over fruit stalls and carts stacked with fresh eggs.
‘Don’t be alarmed,’ I say. ‘I haven’t been harmed. But I’d be grateful for any help. The water will be cold rather soon.’ Before anyone has a chance to reply the bath bolts in the direction of the woods.
I hold on tight and continue with my gyrations.
As the market traders pick up their toppled carts and goods, mothers remove hands from daughters’ eyes and watch the naked mayor run in the direction of the woods. The men grumble and shake their heads. It had been amusing the first few times, but now the mayor was becoming a nuisance.
‘Poor man,’ the women say. ‘He obviously needs help.’
‘Yes,’ the men say. ‘We should do something.’
Someone also mentions that council tax has gone up by nearly ten percent the last three years running.
The men fetch their hunting rifles and head for the woods.