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Time for a Single European directive on showers and shampoos

Posted on 2 December 2010 | 10:12am

Greetings from Bari, in southern Italy, where I’ve just had a run in rather pleasant sunshine with a lovely warm breeze blowing in from the sea. Sorry to those freezing at home, but someone has to do it.

I am here to speak at a conference on innovation, and emerging from the shower just now, I have thought of one … we need Single European standards on hotel showers and above all labelling of soaps, shampoos, body lotions, conditioners, blah blah blah beauty industry gone mad.

The shower is one place where you can be forgiven for forgetting to take your glasses. Mine are just bog-standard reading glasses, the current pair donated by a guy I met in Jordan last week, who gave me his spare pair after I had lost two in a single day.

But once you’ve got into the shower, used your PhD thesis on nuclear mechanics or whatever other mental and scientific skills you have to work out how the shower operates in a way that doesn’t either drench the floor or scald your head, then if you’re among the reading glass classes, you have the nightmare of working out what all those bloody bottles are, covered in tiny print and unfathomable openings.

At home, I don’t care if I use soap or shampoo for hair and/or body, and I know which is which, and Fiona keeps all her stuff in a separate thingy, safe from my mangling or moaning about what they’re all for. But I have a sneaking feeling I have just washed hair and body with conditioner, a substance that in my view should be banned along with the wheelie bags that were causing untold chaos at Rome airport last night as passengers rushed to make connections after a ninety minute delay.

And if that seems a bit extreme, then at a minimum could the famed Brussels bureaucrats get going on a new directive for Single European standards on shower mechanics and hair/body product labelling in hotels? Let’s be honest, they have come up with dafter directives in their time, and this one would mean so  much to the ocularly challenged. Nice big letters saying SHAMPOO, SOAP, SHOWER GEL, CONDITIONER for THOSE WHO FANCY THEMSELVES TOO MUCH … maybe they could insist on colour codes too, rather than have to put every language of the EU on there … red for shampoo, blue for conditioner … red good, blue bad … sorry to get political about hair products, but my legs have come out in a rash.

Too much information, as my daughter says … Goodbye, off to tell the Italians about innovation in media and politics. Vote for the anti-conditioner parties. I wonder what Berlusconi uses on his hair. More than most, I guess.

  • Richard

    You are so right, Al. The EU conspiracy to slaughter us wealthy,older, visually challenged wrinklies who can afford to stay in Hotels, by installation of unreadable directions and non standard showers, must be exposed.

    Why should they expect us to buy a pair of £3 reading glasses and leave them permanently in our sponge bags, so we can continue to read, even when we have lost our £500 Chanel prescription pair.

    Very New Labour: we should legislate for £x billion worth of works to standardise Hotel showers as well as shampoo and conditioner bottles.

    This should have been given some of the 700 hours Parliamentary time wasted on the Foster Hunting Bill. Why did you not arrange it?

  • Brian Weds

    Alastair,
    you might be on to something there.
    I’d love to see you pitch the idea on Dragons Den.
    Just to see the Dragons face when you appear at the top of the stairs would be worth my annual licence fee.
    Maybe the shows producers could do a celeb charity version.

  • Sarah Dodds

    People actually use that junk? I tend to take my own good stuff with me and then steal the crap hotel stuff for bathroom ornaments if the bottles are posh and pretty enough.
    .

  • On behalf of the colour-enhanced, please don’t outlaw conditioner! Feel your pain regarding unfathomable controls and tiny print on the bottles though, colour coding might be a great idea – blue for soap, green for shampoo and specially for you, RED for conditioner! Anyhoo, as I’m freezing my posterior off in Scotia right now, feel my resentment that you’re in Sunny Italia you jammy swine! PS Kindly desist from blogging about being in the shower, it creates deeply distracting mental pictures for some of us… 🙂

  • Byron

    Thank you for your interest. But, as you know, Berlusconi doesn’t actually have any shampoo-able hair. It’s actually a coloured acrylic weave plastered firmly to the scalp. For technical support, please contact “Ruby” at the usual location.

  • Robert Jackson

    Aaaaaargh – please not colour coding!!!!

    10% or thereabouts of us do not distinguish some greens, reds, browns, turquoises, greys, blues, pinks, yellows and a whole range of subtle yucky poo coloured colours on sale at DIY stores everywhere. They all look rather similar. No way can we do more than hazard a guess as to what they might be.

    Protans, Deutans and Tritans, “–anomalists” and “–anopians ” alike, are voters too. Colour-blind to the politically incorrect.

    Surely a cartoon face disappearing in bubbles for shampoo, a slick haired head for conditioner and bubbly hands for soap – problem solved?

    Pictograms rule!

  • Jane

    Innovation in Italian politics — there’s a thought. If they “innovated” the Italian parliament, 75% or more of the deputies would be out on their ears, starting with Berlusconi.
    Meanwhile, before you get in the shower, put your specs on, look for the bottle labelled “balsamo” and bin it, that’s the conditioner.

  • JJones

    -and so you try to open the shampoo with your teeth and then-

  • Chris Markiewicz

    Could.t agree with you more. I have a visual impairment, so doubly frustrating. Good idea to take your own – I pinch bottles (although they are paid for as part of my bill) and then put em in my washbag for next time & know in advance which is which. Not sure about a directive, but application of common sense (ha ha – you may say, that’ll be the day) would be welcome. Don’t get me started on those dim energy saving bulbs or “mood lighting” in hotel rooms!