Perchance, I’ve just discovered there’s such a thing as a British Toilet Association. I’m not taking the piss. Google it. Its logo is “For Your Convenience,” it has an Honorary President, a Managing Director, a Chairman and five committee members on its Management Advisory Committee.
Its expressed goal is “to promote the highest standards of hygiene and overall provision in “away from home” toilet facilities across the UK.” All of this is straight out of the Richard Briers handbook on English wetness.
Of course these objectives are worthy but the mind neverless boggles that such a body exists. There’s a comic novella in this with wet buggers vying to get on the committee or behind the scenes plotting to replace the chairman.
Mind you a truly wonderful comic novella on a London men’s public toilets has already been produced back in 1997, namely the much acclaimed “GENTS” by Warwick Collins. Humour aside it’s the best exposition I’ve ever read on how people’s moral stance changes in line with their fortunes. Get on to Amazon and buy a copy. You’ll thank me.
There’s been recent years’ comments in Auckland and Wellington on the alleged declining number of public toilets. On my observation that’s a male problem. Every woman I’ve known has no hesitation in barging into shops and demanding to use their toilet.
Men, myself included, will go in and buy something they don’t want first, before tentatively making the request.
Some of my managers tease me as New Zealand’s toilet king, conceivably owning more than any other individual, namely several thousand in our buildings. I’m now an authority on the subject. For example, women’s toilets maintenance costs us over $500,000 annually for reasons you don’t want to hear. Men’s cost nothing.
Reading the Wellington office monthly report about 5 years ago, I noted a large expenditure item for a Government department, namely the replacement of the cubicle door and construction of a special large steel women’s toilet bowl. Enquiry revealed the Department was reimbursing us.
Further investigation proved amusing. It transpired that a very large female (guess the race?) had gone into the cubicle, locked it, pulled up her dress and down her pants, sat down and the toilet bowl had crumbled under her.
Her cries eventually saw help arrive, the door smashed in and there she faced them, knees and legs in the air, unable to move. She was far too heavy for women to pull her up so eventually a couple of burly blokes, who I imagine needed no instruction to avert their eyes, came in and eventually managed to get her upright.
As I said, toilets offer rich pickings for comic writing, particularly with females, who from childhood, go to great lengths to hide the fact, like cats, that they ever do anything but urinate.
My mother, who before deciding at 93 she’d like a Jaguar sports car (she wrote it off within half an hour, was cut out of it by the Fire Brigade, and soon after had a stroke which led to her demise) was never known to go to the toilet.
I noted all of this behaviour at an early age. Growing up in a small state house and after telephones arrived, any phone conversations could be heard all over the house.
One Saturday, my mother had spent the day cutting and sewing a dress for my older sister for the school ball that night. She was rather pleased with herself having snared the school’s fanciest bloke. About 5pm the phone rang. It was the beau. “She’s in the lavatory,” I told him.
The reaction was terrifying screams from the toilet, mother and sisters, the sound of galloping feet down the hall, and I was knocked sideways with a swipe over the head. My mother took the phone and explained to the beau why my sister could no longer go to the ball as she was now ill. And so she was, mentally, and I was a bewildered pariah.
Many years later a woman primary school teacher I was chatting to told me that research had attributed some women’s bladder problems to their childhood refusal in the classroom to putting their hand up to ask to go to the toilet. Is this still the case, I wonder? I suspect so.