‘Can we put bubbles in please?’ called James upstairs.
‘How many bubbles would you like?’ called back Grandad. This was a game he always liked to play.
‘Four hundred and fifty seven!’ said James.
Grandad laughed. ‘I’ll see what I can do…’
He picked up the bubblebath and poured a large blob into the bath. The water was warm and steam rose from the bath making the mirror misty. The bubbles began bubbling! More and more!
‘It’s started!’ called Grandad.
‘Woooohoooo!’ replied James running up the stairs. ‘There are gazillions!’ he shouted with a big smile on his face.
‘Would you like your boat in the bath? Or your ducks?’ Grandad asked.
‘Both please!’ replied James, about to climb in.
‘Let me check the water first,’ Grandad said, dipping his hand in the water. ‘Perfect.’
James slid in and immediately began splashing around.
‘Do you like having a bath, Grandad?’
Grandad smiled ‘I like having a relaxing bath yes, but it wasn’t always so much fun. As for my Grandad - oh let me see, that would be your great, great granddad - well it was very different when he was your age…’
‘What do you mean?’ asked James with so many bubbles on his chin he had a big white beard.
‘Well, when he was a lad, he didn’t have a bath every evening before bedtime. In fact he was lucky if he had a bath once a week! And he certainly didn’t have bubbles.’ Grandad chuckled. ‘His bath was made of tin and it hung up on the wall, in the yard. Every Saturday night after playing outside all day, his mother would call him indoors for bathtime. His bigger brothers would have to help her get the bath off the wall and often there would be a spider or two in it that would make his little sister shriek! Then his mother would use a big jug to fill the bath with hot water boiled from the fire. And then everybody took their turn to be scrubbed from head to toe. They didn’t have shampoo to wash their hair back then, just a bar of soap and that cleaned everything, all in one go. As soon as one child was clean the next would hop into the same bath and the same water! Now, your great, great Grandad had three brothers and two sisters, so if he was unlucky enough to be the last in, the water definitely wasn’t very warm - or very clean!’
‘Did he have time to play in the bath?’ asked James. He loved hearing his Grandad’s stories.
‘That’s a very good question! Sometimes in the summer he would have the bath outside in the garden and everybody enjoyed it so much more. They would often splash each other. Once the last child had finished they had to empty the bath - there wasn’t a plug! They used more jugs and saucepans!’
‘So they didn’t have a whirlpool for their boats at the end of bathtime, Grandad?’
‘I don’t think so James! I didn’t even know what a whirlpool was until you showed me a little while ago!’ Grandad smiled. ‘Right, we need to wash your hair young man. Where is the vanilla shampoo?’
James loved the sweet smell.
When he had given James’s hair a good scrub, Granddad used the shower to carefully rinse all the shampoo out. James held a flannel over his face just to make sure it didn’t go in his eyes. Grandad held up a fluffy towel that was bigger than Samir himself and wrapped him in it as soon as he got out of the bath. Then they stood and watched the boat go round and round in the whirlpool as the water drained out of the bath.
‘Time for bed then, my little man!’ Grandad said. ‘Let’s go and get your favourite pyjamas on and snuggle down.’
‘I’d like another story from when you were a little boy,’ James asked. ‘What was school like?’ He yawned and climbed in to bed.
Grandad tucked him in. ‘Well for a start, we all wore shorts, even in the winter.’ He looked at James to see what he thought about that, but James was already fast asleep. ‘I’ll save the rest for another day then. Sweet dreams, little man.’