The Emperor’s new spa…

HANDS up if you think a spa bath is a cool — even essential — element of modern living…

… … …

Right… hands up instead, then, if you think a spa bath is really, really good joke against a really, really gullible public by someone with a really, really sick sense of humour…

I can’t be alone, surely!

I have sat in a spa bath. With my wife. For the second time.

The first time we tried it we took two cups of cocoa. Our children tell us we didn’t give it a Fair Go.

So this time we took champagne.

We booked the place and the man told us, triumphantly: “…and the cottage has a spa bath!”

Yes, I said, I was afraid of that.

“It’s very… romantic.” He insinuated. He probably thinks public lavatories are romantic.

It was sitting in a little room in isolated splendour, on a little plinth, so you looked up at it from everywhere else in the cottage.

With the power on I felt vulnerable, like those little ping pong balls that bob around on fountains. I was afraid someone might shoot us with an air rifle.

But with the power on that’s the least of your problems. There’s nothing romantic about a spa with the power on. You can’t hear the music. You risk being blown up like an inner tube by the jets in the floor. And asphyxiating in a snowdrift of bubbles.


But… people buy them. People like them. At least, they say they like them. I am assured by those in the hospitality business that it’s the first question people ask… “Have you got a spa?”

Well, yes. I ask now, too, and if they have, I don’t go there.

But these people are seeking out spas!

Maybe they’ve never had one.

The weirdest thing, though, is that there is a huge industry devoted to spa baths. Rich people have spas. Successful people have spas. The people you wish you were have spas.

You know the old story about the Emperor’s new clothes? They were invisible, said the tailor, unless you were really smart, then you could see them.

Everyone in the royal court could see them.

They’d probably see spas, too.

All I see is a bath. I like baths. I can be romantic in a bath – with cocoa or champagne. If it has room for two that’s even better. (Some of them have room for three but that’s not romantic. That’s weird).

But I do not need a bath with a 50 horsepower engine or a high-pressure enema.

I bet there’s hundreds of people out there who have spa baths and never use them any more!

They’re not going to admit it, of course, any more than the royal court was going to admit it couldn’t see the new clothes.

Any more than anyone has ever admitted waterbeds were a dead loss.

Remember the rage for waterbeds? But who’s got one now?

Where are the juice extractors? Where are the breadmaking machines?

They’re rusting in the back of the cupboard where the cockroaches breed in them.

None of these have made us better people, despite the promises. Maybe yoga will.

Or feng shui.

Aren’t you afraid? The people who fall for this stuff drive cars, run councils, teach in schools.


The safest thing, I think, will be to stay indoors. And have a shower.