I couldn’t touch my toes. Ordinarily that is not a problem for me. I’m not the most limber guy around, but I can usually reach down far enough and pull up one foot at a time. This is an important capability when it comes to washing your feet. After a long day hiking the moors of West Yorkshire, these feet need to be washed, or else my wife is going to ban me from the car, the restaurant, and most importantly, the hotel room.
We were staying in the Old White Lion Hotel in Haworth, England. Haworth is a small village known as the home of the Bronte sisters in the 1800s. The hotel is a 300 year old coaching inn, built at the top of a hill. It looks down the famous cobbled Main Street of Haworth and opposite the Bronte Parsonage Museum.
The hotel web site boasted of 14 en suite rooms, with a restaurant and pub, and even something called a “function room” with a dance floor! Each room had a “multi-channel” TV. You mean we get to watch more than one channel?
Our room on the second floor was only big enough to provide one foot of space on each side of the bed, and about 3 feet at the end of the bed. I was afraid that if I rolled over at night and fell off the bed (it does happen on occasion) that I would be stuck tight between the wall and the bed and would never get out without a call to the fire department. I didn’t even want to think about what I might see under the bed at 3am.
The multi-channel TV was an old 12-inch tube mounted in the top corner of the room near the ceiling, which was visible only by lying flat on the bed and craning your neck a certain way. The multiple channels appeared to only include two: the Playboy Channel and European MTV. At least it was in color.
The en suite bathroom was, of course, retrofitted in so-called modern times into a 300 year old room. Back in the early 1700’s the bathroom facilities were probably behind the stables. The bathroom was about four feet by five feet in size. One could sit on the loo, as the Brits call it, and wash your hands at the same time! How convenient and efficient. Just think of the time saved.
We could have stayed at the Best Western near the motorway for half the cost. But that would have been too mundane, I thought when planning the trip. Let’s splurge a little. We can always stay at an international hotel chain with standard rooms and amenities. Why not soak in a little local culture where literary girls once stubbed their toes on the old cobblestones? We’d never stayed in a hotel as old as the Old White Lion. I could imagine myself standing in the pub, eating fish and chips and lifting a pint with the local gents, while ducking my head beneath the ancient beams.
Instead I was stuck in the shower trying to figure out how to wash my hair and my feet. The shower was about two feet by two feet in size, with the shower head about five feet from the floor. I think it was designed for malnourished coal miners who stood 4 feet 9 inches high and weighed 110 lbs. I am 6 feet tall and weigh 190 lbs. (OK, to be honest I used to weigh 190 a decade or so ago, and would like to get back there someday). I barely fit in the shower. Let’s not even pause to contemplate the current and projected obesity rates of today’s American adults.
Getting my head wet was very difficult, and involved some moves I once saw done by a child contortionist in Beijing. Next it was time for the shampoo. However, I couldn’t quite get my elbows away from my body far enough to get my hands over my head to lather up. I kept banging my arms against the wall and the shower door. By hugging myself, I could sort of get the soap over most of my torso and arms. Reaching my feet was going to be a trick.
And that’s when I dropped the soap.