Thursday, July 07, 2005

French Particularities No. 2: Plug retractors

Through all my childhood and young adult life in the UK, I cannot remember ever using anything other than a rubber plug on the end of a chain for stopping the water from running out of the bath or sink. However, I suppose about ten or maybe fifteen years ago, I first encountered one of those strange devices: a plug retractor. These devices are now ubiquitous in new build homes in the UK. Frankly, I hate these contraptions. As far as I am concerned, there are four types: (1) broken; (2) impossible to find; (3) stuck, or (4) leaky.

Judging by the designs I have encountered in various French hotel bathrooms, plug retractors have a long history in France and are taken very seriously. Why, I can't imagine. What is wrong with pulling on a chain? The only possible reason I can think of is that you might catch the chain by accident and some water escapes. Big deal. On the other hand, a sink with a really elaborate plug design, now that says something about you...

The designs are normally very elaborate and cranky. They often involve a significant elaboration of the sink or tub as well as a plug mechanism. The photo above, taken in a Normandy hotel last week, shows how the design of the ceramic sink is closely tied to the placement of the plug retractor, creating a formidable hole down which to drop your toothbrush when arriving home after a glass too many of burgundy.


fdfs said...

Great blog! I love reading about the adventures of those not always in their natural environment. Bon travail et svp continuez ; je jetterai un oeil sur ce blog de temps en temps!

Jonathan Wonham said...

Thanks for your comment Nick. It's the first I have received. Your blog is interesting also.