Sunday, July 09, 2006

Toilet Humour

Toilets, then. I've been promising to write about this for, ooh, at least a fortnight, and by happy (or should that be Happy?) coincidence I have had occasion to observe them quite closely during recent journeys. Not because I'm a bit wierd, but because I've been out a few times after work recently what with colleagues leaving, friends returning from abroad and other notable events, and found myself sitting on the train with my legs crossed, wondering whether or not to brave the toilets for fear the previous user (to put it indelicately) might have left a bit of a smell.

The thing that's really struck me during these procrastinations has been just how busy the loos have been. We're talking about a level of footfall most retailers would be chuffed with. It may have something to do with the fact that at that time of night, most of the passengers have, like myself, been to the pub (or recreational venue of their choosing) and are therefore more in need of such relief than would normally be the case on such a homeward journey. Or maybe it's always that way, and it's just that I have been noticing more because of the fact that invariably it's just when I've made the decision that I AM going to take the plunge (if you'll pardon the somewhat opaque pun) that someone else bounds along the carriage and hurls himself into the toilet with the urgency of desperation. It's always a "himself" by the way, definitive proof that women are more intelligent than men.

The fun part when you're sitting in that part of the train is to try to guess which of your fellow passengers are waiting for the toilet and which are just looking uncomfortable as a matter of commuting course. I'm becoming quite adept at spotting those who fall into the former category. They project an exxaggerated sense of calm: you half expect them to start whistling like in cartoons when chracters are trying to pretend they've not just seen or done something. As soon as the door to the toilet slides open, they stare directly ahead of them, glance furtively from side to side and then, very slowly, rise and amble towards the toilet before suddenly leaping into action with the aformentioned desperation and closing the door behind them.

I usually wait unitl four chaps have been and gone before making my own casual way to the cucicle (by which time, of course, my bladder is screaming at me to be anything but casual). In fact, as with most aspects of commuting, there is pretty much a set pattern to the characters that precede me. Generally the first one will be about my age, tall and muscular and invariably blonde, with a supremely confident manner only dented by his slightly awkward walk, which to the experienced (ie male) eye, is a dead giveaway. Next comes the middle aged guy in expensive trainers (you just know he's one of those Dads that tries to be down with the kids). He makes no effort to hide his intentions, which is why it's sometimes fun to rise from your seat at the last minute and duck in ahead of him. Then there is always a doddery old fella who walks without bending his knees, so that he looks a bit like a Thunderbirds character without the sex appeal: not meaning to sound uncharitable but I never fancy going in after he comes out, because he always emerges looking shamefaced, as if he's just perpetrated the sin of impurity. Fortunately, I can always count on number four, who is always the guy on the seat right outside the cubicle who up to this point, like myself, has shown no interest whatsoever in the toilet - now he'll look up, do the furtive side-to-side glance, and then bolt from his seat into the empty cubicle as if his life depends on it. When he emerges, I rise casually and stroll in through the open door (he always leaves it open - everyone else shuts it behind them) and flush (because, again uniquely, he never does) before shutting the door and administering to my own needs.

Of course nobody ever does make a smell, because no one ever risks a sit down number 2 on a train: after all the seat is always covered in other men's wee. This is another reason why girls don't use these facilities. I do sometimes find myself wondering what happens to the stuff when yuo flsuh the toilet, having heard all the stories about aeroplanes and "blue ice". And then I see the trains in Kings Cross pouring somekind of liquid out on to the tracks, and decide it's wiser not to speculate.


At 9:25 PM GMT+1 , Blogger big sis said...

Last week catching a train to Dulwich, I was suprised to find the toilet occupied when we got on the train at Victoria. There was a type number one man keen to use said facility. After a few minutes the occupant, a type four male sort of lurched out of the loo and out of the train. He stopped on the platform and sat down on a bench and wrung something ouT. i will leave you to deduce what had transpired. However the type one male paused but a moment before diving in. At this point the train moved and I lost sight of the platform man. This memory had been forgotten until it was re-awakened by your blog! Bag Lady


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