I've been wanting to tell you of an experience I had in a hotel somewhere south of Manchester a while back.
I step into the shower as part of the daily effort to maintain that standard of personal cleanliness to which I am firmly wedded, and turn on the water supply, adjusting the temperature quickly and efficiently so as to ensure that I am neither frozen nor scorched by the initial jet of water. This accomplished, I begin to soap myself. I take my time. I enjoy the water. I enjoy the warmth. I also gradually begin to realize that something is not quite right. For it is now that I become aware that the shower I am standing under and standing in is no ordinary shower. It is, rather, ultra-modern, enhanced, the latest thing. It is better than ever.
That is to say, not only is the water raining down on me in the normal way from the showerhead above; no, in addition there are several side-jets spouting their contents on every side from their fixture positions in the shower walls. Well, damn it, I could do without these extras. You see, in your old-fashioned type of shower, you can apply soap to the various parts of your body and the soap stays there long enough for you to spread it about in cleansing movements, before allowing the water to wash it away. Not this shower, however. The billion side jets are taking the soap down into the watery below before you have a chance to use it. As quickly as you soap it on, just so quickly is it washed away. This is not the shower of a free society, in which there is an area of watery governance and then a lot of open space around it for individual movement as willed by the individual self. This is a totalitarian shower. It permits no space for the free application of soap. To win against it you have to think very hard, figure out just where there might be a small water-free enclave, manoeuvre your body in such a way that the bit of it you want to soap is placed just right, get the soap on there, rub it around before you slip or the water currents change direction, and then move on to the next bit of skin surface you're interested in.
Washing becomes an act of defiance. It becomes an affirmation of the boundless courage of the human spirit. I step out of the shower, having prevailed against it. I will not be the passive object of water enveloping the human body - forever.