Nigel Planer — Nanny Ogg's bath night (from Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett)
. . . Clang boinng clang ding . . .
The sound echoed around Lancre.
Grown men, digging in their gardens, flung down their spades and hurried for
the safety of their cottages . . .
. . . Clang boinnng goinng ding . . .
Women appeared in doorways and yelled desperately for their children to come
in at once . . .
. . . BANG buggrit Dong boinng . . .
Shutters thundered shut. Some men, watched by their frightened families,
poured water on the fire and tried to stuff sacks up the chimney . . .
Nanny Ogg lived alone, because she said old people needed their pride and
independence. Besides, Jason lived on one side, and he or his wife
whatshername could easily be roused by means of a boot applied heavily to the
wall, and Shawn lived on the other side and Nanny had got him to fix up a long
length of string with some tin cans on it in case his presence was required.
But this was only for emergencies, such as when she wanted a cup of tea or
. . . Bond drat clang . . .
Nanny Ogg had no bathroom but she did have a tin bath, which normally hung on
a nail on the back of the privy. Now she was dragging it indoors. It was
almost up the garden, after being bounced off various trees, walls, and garden
gnomes on the way.
Three large black kettles steamed by her fireside. Beside them were half a
dozen towels, the loofah, the pumice stone, the soap, the soap for when the
first soap got lost, the ladle for fishing spiders out, the waterlogged rubber
duck with the prolapsed squeaker, the bunion chisel, the big scrubbing brush,
the small scrubbing brush, the scrubbing brush on a stick for difficult
crevices, the banjo, the thing with the pipes and spigots that no one ever
really knew the purpose of, and a bottle of Klatchian Nights bath essence, one
drop of which could crinkle paint.
. . . Bong clang slam . . .
Everyone in Lancre had learned to recognize Nanny's pre-ablutive activities,
out of self-defense.
"But it ain't April!" neighbours told themselves, as they drew the curtains.
In the house just up the hill from Nanny Ogg's cottage Mrs. Skindle grabbed
her husband's arm.
"The goat's still outside!"
"Are you mad? I ain't going out there! Not now!"
"You know what happened last time! It was paralysed all down one side for
three days, man, and we couldn't get it down off the roof!"
Mr. Skindle poked his head out of the door. It had all gone quiet. Too quiet.
"She's probably pouring the water in," he said.
"You've got a minute or two," said his wife. "Go on, or we'll be drinking
yoghurt for weeks."
Mr. Skindle took down a halter from behind the door, and crept out to where
his goat was tethered near the hedge. It too had learned to recognize the
bathtime ritual, and was rigid with apprehension.
There was no point in trying to drag it. Eventually he picked it up bodily.
There was a distant but insistent sloshing noise, and the bonging sound of a
floating pumice stone bouncing on the side of a tin bath.
Mr. Skindle started to run.
Then there was the distant tinkle of a banjo being tuned.
The world held its breath.
Then it came, like a tornado sweeping across a prairie.
Three flowerpots outside the door cracked, one after the other. Shrapnel
whizzed past Mr. Skindle's ear.
"-wizzaaardsah staaafff has a knobontheend, knobontheend-"
He threw the goat through the doorway and leapt after it. His wife was
waiting, and slammed the door shut behind him.
The whole family, including the goat, got under the table.
It wasn't that Nanny Ogg sang badly. It was just that she could hit notes
which, when amplified by a tin bath half full of water, ceased to be sound and
became some sort of invasive presence.
There had been plenty of singers whose high notes could smash a glass, but
Nanny's high C could clean it