Camay in the Bathroom, Pears in the Kitchen: Soap!

I thought about starting this blog with a quote about change; you know the sort of thing, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” (Ghandi), “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change,” (Michael Jackson).

But to do that would be to suggest I am a worthy type and we all know I am profoundly unworthy.

If I were properly worthy, I would not have been purchasing expensive hand wash for the past fifteen years in a bid to make my house look more like the Mandarin Oriental. (In reality I’d struggle to achieve Trust houses Forte.)

Friends, in the words of Motley Crue, ‘Now it’s time for change.’

Back in June I had a cry about the whale who died in Thailand having consumed seventeen pounds of plastic.

I am not a great watcher of programmes about the natural world. Too many uncomfortable Sunday evenings shared with my parents in front of ‘The World About Us’ watching lions mate have given me a mental block when it comes to televisual zoology.

But I have caught trailers for the Blue Planet series and I do know what it’s about.

I have huge respect for David Attenborough and growing impatience with human beings.

I don’t like seeing pictures on social media of turtles with straws stuck up their noses or gulls strangled by six pack plastic rings.

Or whales who’ve died of starvation because their guts are blocked with eighty plastic bags.

Sea animals can’t distinguish between floating plastic and food. They have no consequential thought. They are small brained but it’s not their fault.

We are large brained. And it is our fault.

In spite of our ginormous brains, style conscious, middle class women like me still buy plastic dispensers of Molton Brown/Diptyque/Aveda/l’Occitane liquid handwash.

(The less style conscious among us are buying cheaper versions of the same stuff from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Lidl – no disrespect.)

We have all been seduced by the ad men, hotel interiors and the need not to clean that bit of the basin where the soapy excess accumulates.


Until recently the only time I came across actual bars of soap was in hotels where the complimentary toiletries include a wrapped sliver.

And yet soap is what I grew up with. Imperial Leather, to be precise. Floating in the bath on a polystyrene tray which had once housed a pork chop and which, with four corks stuck to its bottom, was my brother’s winning invention for a national competition.

(It’s a real shame the floating re-purposed chop tray never caught on.)

As I stood in Boots recently and glanced down the aisle at bottle after bottle of hand wash, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, bubble bath and god knows what, I felt a bit overcome.

All that bloody plastic.

And then to hear on the news that all the diligent plastic recycling I’d been doing was not worth the effort because most of it can’t be recycled anyway and the Chinese have had enough of our Molton Brown bottles, was the last straw. (Paper, not plastic, obvs.)

So I waltzed into Lush and asked for a shampoo bar (I’d read about them somewhere) and then, looking at the assistant I said, “And is there a shower bar I could have, too?”

She looked at me like I was insane before saying, “Do you mean soap?”

I was standing in a shop full of soap – bars to the left of me, bars to the right of me – and yet somehow the word had disappeared from my lexicon to be replaced by marketing speak.

Reader, I bought soap.

My husband is thrilled.

“I used to love unwrapping a new bar of soap,” he said, clearly remembering happy times near a bar of Camay in the bath (Pears in the kitchen). “And then my mum would wreck it by jamming the little thin bit of the old bar onto the new one so as not to waste it.”

I’ve replaced all the liquid hand wash in my house with new, perky little soap dishes with fine milled soaps.

Christ I’m feeling worthy…

Soap me down, David, and bring on the mating lions!  



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