Leaving the shop with Hubby’s cold medicine in my bag, I felt as though things were looking up. I’d accomplished my mission of mercy and was now headed to the Fashion Museum via Milsom Street. Later today, I had secretly booked Hubby and I in for a couples massage at the Bath Priory Hotel and Spa. I was even in the mood to take pictures and what did I spy but this building below.
This is what I love about England, one literally stumbles upon history in every street. It turns out that Frederick Joseph owned the bookshop and circulating library at 43 Milsom Street in 1822. The premises were sold to Eliza Williams in 1829 and she remained there until 1868, when she moved the business to 19 Green Street. How the signage came to be preserved to this day, I have no clue, but I’m exceedingly glad that it still exists.
It was at this point that I was caught unawares and was again violently assaulted, this time by my bowels. You, Dear Reader, have stuck by me through my narration of this trip to England up to this point and I thank you for that. I have done my level best to report every part of this trip, good and bad, exactly as they happened and so I cannot but do the same now. I will try to make it as quick and painless as possible for you. Certainly less painful than it was for me.
Of a sudden, my bowels were gripped by a giant hand, which twisted them violently and endeavored to pull them from my body. Think childbirth, or two laxatives too many. Panicked, I clamped my sphincter shut and looked about wildly. The street was deserted. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was open. There was no hope of popping into a shop in order to use their loo. A cold, clammy sweat broke out upon my brow as I searched vainly for a bench, although I don’t know how wise putting myself in a seated position would have been at that point. Nothing. No relief in sight.
Have you been to Milsom Street? The sidewalks are cobbled. I was wearing boots with heels. I was headed for the Fashion Museum, meaning that I was walking uphill. It was freezing and I was in the grip of intense bowel pains. It was imperative that I find a WC. What in the world could possibly happen next? A plague of locusts perhaps?
Shivering and slightly bent over with the pain, blowing my nose on purloined loo paper, I forged ahead. You’ve got to hand it to me – I’m nothing if not determined. Oh, Lord, please let me get to the Museum in time. A few more steps . . . Stop to pant . . . . More praying. . . . . . .Blow nose . . . . . A few more steps . . . . . I finally made it to George Street, the cross street at the top of Milsom, and wended my way through the back streets to the Assembly Rooms. The Museum, and more importantly, the loo, was finally in sight.
Inside, the place was deserted save for the girl behind the desk. Truly not knowing how much longer I could hang on, I pasted what could only have been a rictus smile upon my face and asked her for the loo. I imagine that I looked something like this, and cannot for the life of me imagine why she didn’t run screaming for her life.
Of course the loo was located down a long hallway and then down several flights of stairs, which I bounded down at Olympic speed. I hurled myself through the outer bathroom door, hastily dropped my bag to the floor without a thought for germs and sprinted into a stall. Reader, I made it just in time.
It took me several minutes to recover from my ordeal, as you may well imagine. However, once it was over with, the pain disappeared and I returned to merely having to deal with the symptoms of cholera – a cake walk, comparatively speaking.
The good thing was that, this being New Year’s Day, I had the entire Museum to myself for the length of my visit. There was a special exhibition on, titled Sport And Fashion, as a nod to the recent Olympics – I looked, but there was no outfit specifically made for the Downstairs Bathroom Sprint event.
The permanent collection offers many old favorites, from panniers
to Regency gowns
To Queen Victoria’s dress
and right through to today. The collection also includes menswear, shoes, accessories and more. You can visit the Museum website here and search the collection. If you don’t mind, I’ll save the Assembly Rooms themselves until next time – recounting the horrors of the day has left me exhausted.
Part Three Coming Soon!