Until I saw this image, I had always thought of drinking wine in the bath as a somewhat inappropriate pursuit for a gentleman.
I’ve an image in my head of women drinking wine in the bath; I remember a character called Milly in the TV drama This Life, who was forever locking herself in the bathroom with candles and wine, and I can imagine Bridget Jones crying in her bath with a glass of chardonnay. But a gentleman?
Then I came across this image and, having got myself soaked in summer rain, decided that drinking wine in a nice hot bath was a thing that needed investigating.
Of course, there are some relatively minor considerations to deal with. First and foremost, this is Steve McQueen, a man who probably looked cool sitting on the toilet. He is clearly going to have no problem with a glass of wine if he can smoke a cigarette in the bath without getting it soggy.
Second, he appears to have a young lady in the bath with him. Perhaps she passes him glasses of wine and fresh cigarettes while he luxuriates. Unfortunately, Mrs K is away, so I cannot report on her response to such a request. I think, however, that I can anticipate it.
So, what to drink? In normal hot, humid conditions I would plump for a chilled bottle of white. But it is not going to stay chilled for very long in a glass held within a bath-warmed hand; and a bottle in an ice-bucket, dripping icy water every time it is lifted, is a recipe for disaster and physical pain.
No, a light summer red I think, a Beaujolais. I like to think that might be what Steve has balanced on the rim at his side, in its Burgundy-shaped bottle, although I doubt whether he bought his in a Waitrose 25% off deal.
But the rim of my bath is rounded, and slopes gently inwards, a design which no doubt stops water slopping on to the floor. (Just look at how much water that young lady has dripped over the side. Wait until Steve sees that mess…) And the slope means that I can’t balance a bottle, or even a glass, on the rim.
I try placing them on the flat bit behind my shoulder. This requires crippling contortions to reach around to the wine, with a strong possibility of spillage and/or a subsequent visit to the osteopath.
I try placing them on the floor. But every time I stretch for the glass, my armpit comes down on the shockingly cold rim of the bath. With every reach, it’s as if someone has slotted a box of frozen fish fingers into my armpit.
So I sit in the bath, holding and sipping from a glass of wine which I cannot put down. Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages is a dependable summer favourite, with sufficient fruit to make its lightweight character worthwhile. But it is meant to be sipped and savoured; and I am beginning to realise how much the pleasure of a glass of wine involves eating, reading, watching, talking…doing something else between sips.
Whereas I am drinking faster than I ought, because I cannot put the glass down. I cannot wash, because I am holding a glass of wine. I cannot snooze, in case I drop the glass. I have nothing to look at, apart from that tile which needs regrouting.
And temperature-wise the rapidly cooling bathwater is heading in only one direction, where it will presumably meet, at ‘tepid’, the rapidly warming wine coming the other way.
After getting in, with its initial moment of pleasure, there is very little to look forward to in a bath. A bath essentially gets colder, dirtier and less gainful – and then you get out. I have to report that Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages brings little to the activity, other than ergonomic problems. Oh, and the element of hazard which mild inebriation adds to the adventure of getting out.
It’s all very well for Steve McQueen, with a bath the size of Wales. With a conveniently flat rim. And, oh yes, a ‘nymph to the bath addressed’. If those circumstances were mine, it might somehow all make sense. But they are not, and there are only two chances of them becoming so – fat, and slim.
In future, I shall just have a swift shower, and then enjoy my wine in a bathrobe afterwards.
And no, before anyone asks, I shall not be attempting to drink wine in the shower.