I have to confess, I’ve never previously paid much attention to the shape of taps.
But as D for Demolition Day approaches in our planned bathroom renovation, the style, function and colour of mixers, diverters, spouts and sprays take on a significance far beyond their basic function – the delivery of water to a sink, shower or bath.
Do you want the taps coming out of the “hob” of the sink or the wall, asks Garry in the bathroom store.
“Let’s just keep things the way they are,’ says S, “coming out of the sink is fine”.
I have a niggling doubt so I check. The way they are is that they come out of the wall, as they have for the past 20 years. Shows how much attention we’ve paid to the location of our taps, let alone their design.
On that count, currently they are crossed squarish handles in brushed aluminium that a visitor recently described as “retro cool”. No, we said, they’re just old. Having agreed that, after all, we like having the tapware protruding from the wall, the next decision is, do we stick with separate hot and cold taps or go with one mixer thing controlled by a single lever.
I like mixer taps which I have hitherto only encountered in hotels. I like finding the perfect setting, gluing it into place, and then every morning just flicking the water on, before hovering around the shower stall for ten minutes, like an under-dressed hustler, waiting for the hot water to make its way around the building and into my bathroom.
I hate cold water and I live in dread fear of accidentally turning off the hot tap too soon, and getting a blast of hypothermic spray. Actually, I’m not that keen on being scalded either, so having the opportunity to replace an anxiously coordinated dual tap twist with one solid lunge at a lever, switching everything off at once, feels like luxury indeed.
Also, I’m having the tap moved so that I don’t have to endure an ice-cold drenching as soon as I turn the water on. My days of turning on the taps, then retreating nimbly before the first droplet has exited the shower head, are well behind me.
As for the shower itself, I like to have all options available to me. Apparently, according to S, it’s only men who like the rainwater effect of overhead showers the size of perforated dinner plates. Ladies have to think about their hair.
This is not a problem for me and is becoming less of an issue as the years roll by.
Meanwhile I have eschewed the on-wall shower combo – which looks like an upturned, half-dismantled trombone – as it appears the various levers would be sticking in my ribs if I tried to get fully under the aforementioned dinner plate.
It’s another tweak to the plan. Another search for bits of plumbing that are so expensive they could be used as a benchmark for the street value of drugs: “Police seized 20 kilos of cocaine today, the equivalent of 50 mixer tap sets and a free-standing bath.”
But it’s the planning that takes the real toll. I wonder how often renovators get to the point, as I have frequently, where they say to themselves, “you know, I kind of like our old bathroom.”
Back to the taps. We have two sinks, two showers and a bath. That’s five sets of tapware all of which have to match. Why? Apparently it’s in the Bible, specifically the Book of Caroma.
And here’s a thing I have discovered about myself. I will buy just about anything over the Internet – clothes, electronics, books, music …. even a bike – but I baulk at the idea of purchasing tapware online.
Why? It’s not like they are going to sell me a chocolate hot water faucet that will melt before my eyes when I am shaving.
Perhaps it’s that ancient fear drilled into me over decades that means, however highly I rate my handyman skills, I rarely touch plumbing or electricals, and never at the same time.
In any case, Garry seems happy to accommodate my temporary obsession with tapware and shower heads that don’t require Matrix-style backwards leaning to get away from water that might be the wrong temperature.
So my Budget tax bonus will go towards five mixers, two hand-held showers, three faucets, and two shower heads.
That’s us, pumping cash into the economy like a spa bath on overdrive. Keep this up and we’ll be in line for AOs for services to plumbing.