Sunday, June 24, 2007

Getting caught short

Last Thursday I had arranged to spend the day with The Accountant, going through all the company finances and ticking boxes on an electronic tender I am currently filling in. This meant another trip to Leeds on the red-eye from Stevenage. It's strange - I'd hardly been up there all year until Easter, and all of a sudden I seem to be there every other week. It brings to mind something another commuting sage once said about waiting ages for a bus. Anyway, it is quite a long way to Leeds, and when one is on the early train with a cup of coffee and the obligatory free piece of carboard masquerading as a biscuit, what can often happen is that one has to use the toilet. Now, since my schooldays, I have made the most of one of the greatest natural advantages of being of the male persuasion, and avoided actually sitting down on public toilets (the phrase "hover job" sends shivers down my spine). On this occasion, however, and without wanting to be too explicit, I had to.

It had all been going so well, too. I had caught the train at Stevenage, found my reserved seat and plonked myself down, sipped my skinny cappucino in a very sophisticated way, moved because it was too hot with the Sun shining directly on that side of the train and even managed to find an alternative seat facing forward. But then I felt something stir within me, and realised with grim certainty that I was going to have to forgo my principles.

I looked up and saw that the toilet at the far end was engaged, and realised to my dismay that it was the only one accessible from this carriage. Crossing my legs, and reasoning that I could always wipe the seat with a bit of paper before baring my behind to it, I waited. After what seemed like forever, the Engaged sign went dark and its counterpart flashed. I stood up nonchalantly (one never hurries on trains, particularly not in these situations), only to realise, to my horror, that two other passengers had the same idea as me. What's worse, both were nearer to that end of the carriage than I was (although if I'd stayed in my original seat, I would have been in pole position).

Without showing my frustration, I strolled down the aisle, wondering if there was another toilet adjoining the next carriage. Alas, the other guy had clearly done this before, as he had exactly the same idea, and as I reached the vestibule, with the first toilet now newly engaged, I saw his back vanishing into another doorway. Resigned, I took up position midway between the two cubicles to await a vacanacy. A few moinutes passed, and I began to get very gloomy, reasoning that the longer the wait, the worse the smell. Eventually the second chap emerged from the further toilet and made his way back to his seat, raising his eyebrows at me as he passed. Not a good sign - I believe the corect translation of such a gesture is something along the lines of "You won't believe what's in store for you."

Against all the odds, it turned out not to be so bad - there was a slight whiff, but on the edges of consciousness, and I don't think I caught anything. What was striking was the size of the cublcle. Whereas the other loo was big enough to park a Chelsea Tractor in, this one was tiny, cramped, and certainly offered no prospect of being able to swing a cat. But you don't go to these places for luxury. I did what I had to do and got out of there.

Now here's the funny thing - on my way back that evening, I was caught short again, but mercifully this time it was only what get euphemistcally called Numero Uno. I found the big deluxe loo unoccupied and walked straight in. The toilet was blocked up with loo paper, the flush didn't work and the soap dispenser was empty. Which I suppose just goes to prove (yet again) that size doesn't matter.

5 Comments:

At 3:52 AM GMT+1 , Blogger savannah said...

everyone's worse nightmare, sugar! :)

 
At 10:37 PM GMT+1 , Blogger JD said...

Well actually I can think of a few worse than that. Like the one where the soap dispenser's empty and the warm air hand dryer doesn't work!

 
At 1:23 PM GMT+1 , Blogger Rish said...

I find train toilets even less pleasant than plane toilets. I think it is the gentle rocking motion of our under-maintained rails and rolling stock.

Just be grateful - in India, you usually still have to squat over a hole in the bottom of the carriage. My Mum waited until the train stopped moving, because you really wouldn't want to take the chance of falling over or touching anything. Urghh!

As you commented, JD, we men have a certain anatomical advantage, although I suspect that those who need to sit down may not appreciate the lack of directional accuracy that is so frequently displayed in gents' toilets up and down the country...

 
At 11:47 AM GMT+1 , Blogger paddy said...

I gues you would commonly call that a crap journey---I had to say it; that's how small my brain is today. I have to say today to boost my morale.
I know the feeling, it is/has got to be the number one fear of travelling and if you are anal retentive like me you've had it. Now why did I have to tell everybody that. O! well, if I am I am so what.
JD loved it. Had a bowel/howl of a time,ha!!!
Y;-) Paddy

 
At 6:06 AM GMT+1 , Blogger DJ Kirkby said...

Very funny! I did alugh at your parting comment. Too true!

 

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