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This little rant dates back a few years. It got a passing mention in my post Radio Ga Ga.

I hate mixer taps in washbasins. I was reminded of this when I heard part of an interview with Ulrika Jonnson on Radio 4 the other day. She was saying how odd it can be to live in England – and this from a Scandinavian remember – and one of the things she cited was, ‘You have separate taps for hot and cold water.’ Well from my point of view, yes we do, and it makes sense. You want hot water, you hit the hot tap. Cold water? Well damn my eyes, it comes out of the cold tap.

There is a case to be made for mixer taps in the kitchen sink. If you’re just rinsing something off, and you need warm water, then a mixer tap is the tool for the job. Though I do question the need for those stupid gauze inserts in the taphead, to make the water come out all frothy. Why? Just what is the point? They get scaled up, and cost more to replace than I spent on my first, albeit modest, house. BTW if you do get to change one you may well find it has a left-hand thread. Be warned.

I blame the people who appear to feel that frothy tapwater is more hygienic than is still water, a bit like their predilection for Perrier, which is after all only fizzy water at a cost of 1000% that of the stuff from the tap. I was chuffed when world supplies of Perrier had to be withdrawn a while ago because of the presence of benzene. What was great about this was that the levels of benzene were far below those you’d find in the water you’d used to boil a pan of cabbage, a vegetable rich in this chemical, and which we’ve been eating for thousands of years with no apparent ill effects. Doubtless the Health Police can pin blame for the Black Death on the eating of benzene-laden brassicas, but for sane folk the benzene/Perrier thing was a complete load of nonsense yet paradoxically a source of great delight.

Back to mixer taps. As I say, fine in a kitchen sink, but not any use at all in a washbasin. And here’s why. Try washing your face, and rinsing the soap off, in a basin with a mixer tap. What happens? You bang your head on the spout of the tap as you bend into the basin, because the tap is smack in the middle. Or you need to stand so far back that you irrigate an area of floor that if subject to careful cultivation would raise enough rice to feed a small village in Asia. Actually all you raise is a fine crop of mildew in the carpet, but that’s life.

I have to admit here to a vested interest, in that I wet shave. Mixer taps are the bane of the lives of us wet shavers. Wet shaving can be an unutterably pleasurable experience, though not if you wake up late and have only two minutes to take your skin off your face and dash to the station with bits of tissue paper plastered all over you as if you’d just got married on a rainy day. But a proper wet shave, with the luxury of enough time to do it properly, can enable the participant to achieve a state of almost Zen tranquillity. The washing of the face in water just the right temperature, the smoothing on of the soap/cream/gel as is your wont, the hypnotic rhythmic movement of the razor (unlike that purpose-driven, slightly frantic, circular scrabbling an electric razor requires), the soporific ‘ssshhrrrkkk’ of the facial hair meeting its maker… Unbeatable. But ruined when you bruise yourself on the mixer tap in a strange bathroom when you’re used to your head fitting between the taps on your home patch.

Mixer taps are an abomination. Check out John Wyndham’s ‘The Chrysalids’ for the definition.

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