the right way to take a bath depends upon whether you are in a celebrative mood, i.e. before a party, or whether your bath is an occasion unto itself.

if you are having a twilight pre-party in your bathtub, you must consider what is appropriate music. the music should be upbeat or irreverant, partyish & energising. think cool jazz and j-pop. some songs to consider might be "cute" by count basie; "twiggy twiggy" by pizzicato five; or perhaps old favourites from the pulp fiction soundtrack.

i disagree with thelady about the rule of no music during baths. (and so does radlab0 i know, because she has created mix-tapes for her & a friend to bathe together by). also, anybody who has watched sesame street knows that rubber duckies and loud singing is the only way to go.. "rubber duckie, you're the one.. you make bathtime so much fun.. rubber duckie i'm awfully fond of you.." while i agree with the foetal nature of the bath, i also know there are some very appropriate songs for this type of occasion. if your bath is in the name of meditative relaxation, you must listen to teardrop by massive attack. there is no other choice. you might also like amphibian by bjork or ce matin la by air.

one thing to take into account is the questionable nature of your cleanliness after a bath. kramer from seinfeld summed up the conundrum quite eloquently: "it's disgusting. i'm sitting there in a tepid pool of my own filth. all kinds of microscopic parasites and organisms having sex all around me." to get around this you might decide to have a quick shower before and/or after your bath. i choose both, but if you only want to have one shower, the most pleasant option is probably to have one beforehand.

now one must consider atmosphere. i arrange lilies or tulips in a simple, clear glass on my window ledge. i have a large glass urn with a single goldfish on my bathroom tiles. a silly aquarium might also be appropriate. it's important to capture as much of the watery feeling as you can; to feel the full effect of splashes and beaches. little fishes are good company. speaking of company, i also like to have a telephone in the bathroom. but not just any telephone, one of those old school hollywood numbers you see in the 1950's films. now is the time to catch up on idle gossip with your girlfriends. it is also nice to have a pet plant, and to bring it also into your bathroom, to share the experience. you can chat, and you can sprinkle your own bath water in it's own soil. ah, bonding.

since the bath experience is also a sensory experience, it is imperative to have scented candles alight, or lots of little tealights, sleeping and swaying. and lots of goopy & pretty bath products. bath toys, ducks, pearls, confetti, limp balloons; these are all good options. you should make a special trip to the body shop or lush beforehand to collect such items as bath milk for the cleopatra touch, and bath salts for that sea feeling. bath bombs are also effervescent & tingly and exciting.

foods are very important. i generally agree with thelady that bite-sized foods are better, however there are so many gorgeous and appropriate bathtime foods which fall outside of this category! the key is, you are sampling and indulging in foods, not eating a meal or bingeing. a plate of grapes, cherries, berries, plums, and slices of melon are by far the best choice. mangoes are sublime because you can rub your body with the pulpy seed after eating it; it is so good for your skin. imported chocolates are a nice choice, as are ice cream cones, assorted sorbets, and sherbert. of course, you must have pretty crockery and curly dessert forks! these are handy for things like lemon meringue pie, and pink iced tea cakes.

i am a firm believer that vodka should only ever be indulged in during a bath, and only ever poured into a kitsch tea cup. this is the time to revel in effervescence! champers, bubbles*, lemonade; it all fits in with the bath theme. * a bubble blowing set is also a cute idea. bubbles everywhere! also, liquids are essential to imbibe during a bath, especially if it is a particularly hot bath. try and make sure to drink at least one full glass of water to avoid dehydration.

media is also something i like to play around with while in the bath. i have a little t.v. in my bathroom which i think is imperative. it is so relaxing to watch sex and the city whilst soaking. some good films to watch would include disney films (most especially, the little mermaid), the last unicorn, anything light-hearted and simple, like films from the fifties (but not hitchcock!!) as for reading material, the most fanciful things you can find are the most obvious best. "alice in wonderland" is a classic; i always feel like i am in some underwater tea party. "the little prince" is on the same par as alice, being dreamy and fantastical. fashion magazines are lovely, being very very visual and therefore sensuous without much thought.. you do want to clear your brain of at least everyday, linear, logical thought patterns.

one thing i like the idea of trying is self hypnosis. submerging your head in the water & floating, suspended almost (if your bathtub is large enough), is very much like the womb, timeless, heartbeats, weightless. i'd like to feel hypotised and perhaps regress back into my own memories of being in my mother's womb. whether this is possible or not one can only wait and see!

if you have long hair you must know how unbelievable it feels to have your hair gently sway all by itself underwater. you must let this occur. it feels very mermaid-ish and swimmy, your head is softly tickled. if you do not have long hair, you will never know.

painting is a perfect option. especially with watercolours. stick paintbrushes in your hair.

bathtime is my favourite time to write journal entries and love letters. your mind is very tangential and relaxed and freeform, so streamofconsciousness is definitely the mode you will be in. you will write fragrant wisps of dissipating dreamstuff, messages to be put in bottles, and odd lists, tiny poems. it is heaven to write on paper with wet edges. it feels like papyrus; you can imagine reed & song. ink pens are also desirable. now is the time to decide how to make supermarket shopping an extravagance, & in fact to make everyday things seem very dreamy indeed. i like to plan my next day's meals down to the plates and spoons i will use, i like to figure out my body problems on some sort of jewelled calculator, i like to decide what i shall wear when i get out of the bath*.

* i recommend flimsy sorts of petticoats, ribbons in hair, sensual fabrics like chiffon and silk. and contrary to what footprints claims, you need not be naked in the bath! it is such fun to wear pretty lingerie in there, or perhaps just some ballet slippers ribboned to the knee. letting things go soft with wetness is a delight. wearing jewels in the bath is also a deluxe thing, diamonds and also vending machine rings.

when you are done, give your dishes a bubble bath. they must be cleaned too, and you will be in the mood for such an exciting chore now :)