I like my showers very hot. Will an icy blast turn me into a better person? | Romesh Ranganathan | Life and style

September 12, 2020

I was away for work last week when we got on to the subject of showers. This is something that comes up a lot when travelling, as the quality of bathroom facilities very much determines the mood of the TV shoot. One of the hotels we stayed in last year seemed to be only pretending to have running water, and so the filming days quickly descended into a group of smelly people irritably snapping at each other. At another hotel, it would take about 20 minutes to get a cupful of hot water, which meant showers took an hour and consisted of being naked and freezing and occasionally basting yourself.

On last week’s shoot, though, the director of the show claimed that cold showers were the way forward. I would agree, if the context was specifically for the extraction of information from hostages. I found myself wondering if this was another load of middle-class bullshit, like the six-month period when everyone was putting butter in their coffee.

I am very much of the school of thought that showers should be extremely hot. For some reason, I equate very hot with very clean. I like to feel as if the top layer of skin has been singed off, so that I emerge from the cubicle a brand new Romesh – after, of course, having squeegeed the walls of the shower, during which I like to role-play as a nice window cleaner. I also like the pressure to be so high that you feel as if you’re being sandblasted, smashed so hard against the back of the wall that you would be unsurprised to be hit by a goat that had been caught up in the tornado. All of this is environmentally unsound, to say the least. Even so, cold showering sounded like one of those new-fangled back-to-nature ideas that will eventually see us shopping for “bathroom waterfalls” in Ikea.

My friend was adamant: you feel more energised, it is brilliant for your circulation, and you will feel more alert for the whole day. This sounded incredibly exciting (ignoring the fact that I generally don’t do much that I want to be more alert for), and I was intrigued enough to give it a try. He said that you didn’t need to go cold for the whole shower, just for the last part. He assured me that this would make it easier, but it seemed much worse. Surely the hot part only reminds you of the shower you should be having before you torture yourself? Going cold first, and then hot for the second part, made more sense, in an “eat your vegetables and then you can have your dessert” kind of way.

But he was insistent: you had to exit the shower freezing. He also warned that the first two or three days would be truly horrible, before I entered my new life as somebody who looks down their nose at those absolute pricks who have hot showers.

I readied myself for the first day. My plan was to have the initial shower slightly less hot than I usually would, before turning it down suddenly, in an attempt to surprise myself into it. As the temperature change moment drew closer, I became increasingly wary: I was going to psych myself out. I could not fail. Just as I thought I was changing my mind, I abruptly dropped the temperature. My friend had not prepared me for the shock. I felt as if I had been attacked by one of the Death Eaters from Harry Potter. I don’t recall making a noise, but my wife said it sounded as if I was trying to haunt the bathroom.

I am thinking about suggesting this to people I don’t like, as a prank. Which, I suspect, is what might have happened to me.

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