For some, the surplus of ample, plumptious towels is one of the best things about a hotel stay. I bite my thumb at those people. A towel of that ilk is both unyielding and a feeble soaker-upper – mostly because the impenetrable density of the cloth moves water around on the surface of the skin, rather than absorbing it. For me, it’s a sensation that sensation elicits the same baulking internal cringe as chalk squeaking its way across a blackboard, or the feeling of cotton wool against teeth (don’t ask). I jump for joy when an old towel is unearthed from the recesses of an attic, or resurfaces at some point after a the aftermath of a complicated relocation. So much so that I feel the need to sing this unsung hero of the bathroom.

Ode To A Scratchy Towel


O Scratchy Towel, your harsh detail
delights to touch! So tired and pale,
my itchy skin cries out for rough
material to make it buff.
O Scratchy Towel, your threadbare veins
massage away my aches and pains.
My worn-out hinges/creaking limbs
crave respite through your craggy trims.

You may draw scornful, spiteful stares
and pitying glances, hateful glares,
whilst on the beach or by the pool
from those who cloak themselves in tulle;
they judge you crusty, fetid, stale
and fusty, musty, clumpy, frail.
They’ll never know the pure delight
you serve up kindly, morn and night.

Those softer towels – O! Nay, nay, nay!
They ruin many a bathing day!
Insipid, fluffy, weak and brief
– they bring no corporeal relief!
Inferior in every way,
they never harden, clump or fray.
They might look good upon the rail
but ultimately – epic fail.
Fabric softener’s a crime;
do not inflict on Towels Sublime.
It dulls the keenness of their fronds,
it palls their stalwart fabric bonds.

Ye Scratchy Towel, so hard and stiff,
delight the nerves in my midriff,
your almost painful scrub ‘n’ scratch
revives the senses. To dispatch
SUCH JOY when I stand, cold and nude,
in the bathroom. Towel, how crude!
Your tough attack on my visage –
your cruel strokes, your crisp carnage –
your give ‘n’ take when faced with damp –
you are the perfect Body Clamp.

the way you slump there on the floor;
your tapestry, with which I scrub
myself post-shower, near the tub!

O Scratchy Towel: pray never leave
me shivering without reprieve.