A Slattern’s Diary #7: ‘Sometimes it’s better to fester’

While accepting that showers and baths are generally a wonderful thing, our resident slattern Margaret Cabourn-Smith has a confession.

Illustration by Jo Neary.

Illustration by Joanna Neary.

I’ve revealed a lot of embarrassing slatternly behaviour in these columns but today’s the big one.

It reminds me of the time someone at a party mentioned they’d had an incest dream. It was to a group of six people – three were horrified and three practically cheered with relief.

Now, this isn’t quite as contentious an admission, but it’s equally as divisive as similar conversations at parties have revealed (I know what you’re thinking and yes, thank you; I am GREAT at parties).

Deep breath, here goes: I often shower every two days, rather than every day. I know. I know there are a number of you who are appalled and reconsidering approaching me at parties. I also know, however, I’m not alone.

It was a friend admitting the same thing about himself that alerted me to this fact. He said: “You know, there are people who would be disgusted by the idea,” and rattled off the names of a few mutual friends who he thought would vomit at the thought of anyone not washing daily.

I admit, I’ve found it hard to ask them. To some, it’s just the same as me sidling up and saying, “Hi – I’m disgusting.”

We all have our standards: I, for example find myself appalled at the thought of staying in jim-jams past 10am without even a sniff of the sniffles. The very phrase ‘loungewear’ brings me out in mental bedsores.

I have my standards – I will, of course shower if I smell, if I’ve done any full-on sweaty exercise or (most importantly) if I’m going to be inflicting any of my bare flesh in close quarters on anyone. I am NOT a nuisance commuter.

But doesn’t it sometimes feel like it’s going to be an ordeal? All that going near cold tiling and getting completely naked? Doesn’t it feel a bit humiliating when that first jet of water hits your head? And GOD all that bending and rubbing; couldn’t you do with 20 minutes more sleep?

I know showering is wonderful, a hot blast of water akin to a massage, a shedding of a skin. Baths can be even better, an indulgent fragrant sanctuary where you can read and float – the dream. Both of these experiences can leave you feeling like a new human.

But admit it: sometimes, just sometimes, it’s cosy to fester for a while. Forty-eight hours max, I promise. Give or take.


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Written by Margaret Cabourn-Smith

Margaret is a comedy writer performer popping up on your TV and radio who over thinks and over talks.