Category Archives: Things I Don’t Understand About the British

Things I Don’t Understand About the British, Part 5.1

The heated towel rail. Totally pointless and very expensive.

The heated towel rail. Totally pointless and very expensive.

Last week I posted about my confusion with bathroom fixtures: the sink with separate hot and cold water taps, the cord to pull the light switch, and the lack of electrical outlets except for the plug for an electric razor. I’ve had some good comments about these things on Facebook and here, and thought they necessitated an update.

So. That thing about not having “mixer” taps? As it turns out, they exist! Some of my friends even have them, including my own sister-in-law, who also has an actual switch to turn on the light in her bathroom instead of a cord. Why do I not have these things?

One of our friends in America, who happens to be British, very helpfully posted a link to the equivalent of the British Home Depot where I discovered you can buy mixer taps for installation in your very own home! When I own a home again I will be installing these. Apparently such things weren’t common 20 or so years ago but are more common now, but I still don’t think I’ve seen them out in the real world.

Another of my readers commented here about the glass shower door that only encloses about half of the bath or shower, allowing you to splash water all over your bathroom floor. These I have seen and can’t make any sense of. You’ll have to take my word for it as I can’t find any photographic evidence of these online. The same reader also pointed out that there’s always the heated towel rail to make up for other bathroom failings—though I think he was in agreement with me that heated towel rails are pointless—in my experience they only heat a tiny portion of towel, and they don’t heat that portion very well. There might be a dearth of radiators in many British homes, but hey! We’ll install a heated towel rail to do a pretty poor job of heating your towel, and that’s it! For the rest of the day you can freeze.

Things I Don’t Understand About the British, Part 5

This. I don’t understand this:

Why do I have separate hot and cold water taps? Why can’t I mix the water together from one tap and combine the two temperatures to the degree of warmth I want? Why? (I have never found a single place in Britain where this is possible—if anyone can show me photographic evidence that there is, please send it on.)

Also, carrying on with the bathroom theme, I don’t understand this:

Bathroom CordThis is the cord I have to pull to turn on the bathroom light—again, you will find this in every residential bathroom in the kingdom, probably even in the Queen’s multiple abodes as well. This drives me a little batty.

Right. My last thing I don’t understand from the bathroom is this:

This is the only outlet plug you are allowed to have in your bathroom in Britain. It’s for an electric razor. Because British voltage is 220 volts, and the powers that be are convinced its citizenry will electrocute themselves if provided with anything convenient like, say, a place to plug in a hairdryer in the bathroom. So, this is your only outlet option and you are left drying your hair staring into a mirror eight feet away on the other side of your bedroom. This is also why we have a cord to pull to turn our lights on, because, I imagine, if we had a switch on the wall we would touch it with damp fingers and electrocute ourselves.

It does make me wonder just how stupid the politicians and regulators think British citizens are (don’t answer that). My amusement with these regulations mirrors that of my in-laws when they learned that all American children are taught to “stop, drop, and roll” as part of fire safety. “What happens?” they have asked me, “Do American children regularly burst into flame?”

No, no more than British citizens routinely electrocute themselves by turning on a light switch. Go figure.