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Rhodri Marsden: A porous shower curtain – that's a metaphor for what, exactly?

Life on Marsden

You probably don't want to hear this, but recently my shower curtain started getting mouldy. My parents failed to teach me about shower curtain maintenance when I was younger, possibly because we didn't have a shower. Nor did we have an antelope, and I don't know how to look after those, either. In fact, I left home ill-prepared for most things, and I'll be taking this up with my mum and dad later. Anyway, rather than battle with the fungus, I thought I'd buy a new shower curtain.

My needs are basic; I don't need one with a pointillist landscape on it, I don't need it to be reversible, invertible or made out of tungsten, so I just went to my local DIY store and bought one for £6.95.

After dashing home, breathless with anticipation, I hooked the 12 eyelets onto the 12 hooks, drew it around the bath and turned on the tap. But as the jet of Thames Water's finest hit the curtain I felt myself getting wet, despite not being in the shower yet. It wasn't immediately obvious where the water might be coming from, but it quickly became evident that a fine mist was passing through the shower curtain. This curtain, whose only function is to stop water in its tracks, was failing to adhere to its job description. It wasn't broken; it was just the kind of shower curtain that allows water to pass through.

I sat on the bathroom floor with my head in my hands. How could this be happening? What was this thing made of? I've never had this problem with cheap umbrellas – why couldn't they make it out of the same stuff? Was a £6.95 spend on a shower curtain insufficient to guarantee that my bathroom wouldn't flood? Should I have gone for the £14.95 one, which might be more of a shower curtain and less of a curtain? If I took this one back to the shop, would they laugh and say, "Well, sir, you did only pay £6.95"?

Was I missing something? Do shower curtains actually need lining? Should I, in fact, be taking two shower curtains into the shower? Disorientated and confused, I thought, well, at least I could write a column about this provided I came up with some Thought For The Day-style metaphor for modern life. But I couldn't think of one.