This post is dedicated to the unequivocal certainty of defects in every public toilet in Britain, where first world living standards mean fourth world lavatorial conditions.
I like a bit of toilet humour just as much as the next man, unless by chance the next man happens to be the editor of Viz. Whether it be naming authority figures after effluence in my English lessons in order to add expert-opinion validity in persuasive writing pieces (Professor Emile Scheisshaus of Turdwick University), using grotesque mnemonics to memorise literary devices (FIRECRAPS) or simply giggling at low-brow innuendos (in-your-endo fnarr fnarr) I firmly believe that there is a time and a place for even the basest of jokes. However, one time and one place that this should never apply is the hallowed stomping ground of the toilet itself, where even the slightest of deviations from sterile, secure normality are anything but funny; they are mind-meltingly infuriating.
The first cruel joke in this theatre of dark brown ‘comedy’ is the modern phenomenon of having to pay to perform an essential bodily function. I can’t help but feel that in being charged when nature calls we are effectively being punished for being human beings. Think about it: what unequivocal certainties are there about being a human? Well apart from in bizarre circumstances, we are united by the fact that we all live, we all die and in between that we need to breathe, eat, drink, sleep and defecate. Some clever bastard somewhere has realised this and in addition to having to pay about 4 euros for a bottle of water that has sat in sweating plastic in a warehouse for God-knows how long to quench our thirst, there is now what amounts to the taxation of our toilet habits. How long before we get charged for oxygen when we arrive at JFK Airport? People are already being charged for drinking water from natural sources by corporate detritus and human-rights violators Nestle – why not start fining us for exhaling too much carbon dioxide? Will park owners start charging us by the footstep for every step we take on a morning walk? Are we facing a brave new world where there will be a digestion deficit? A 30p charge for the enzymes breaking down food and a further 20p for the transiting of food from your stomach to intestine? It can’t be far away.
Many will argue that the charge exists to deter the homeless and drug addicts from sleeping in bathrooms at train stations. Aside from the ethical implications of this discriminatory measure (i.e. if they don’t have 30p to spend on somewhere to sleep then how the hell are they going to be able to afford to go for a shit?), I would ask what difference has it made to the bathroom experience at, say, London Paddington? There is still a film of unidentifiable nearly-but-not-quite translucent liquid covering the floor, a carpet of putrescence spread lovingly anywhere that you would like to walk, and certainly anywhere that you would like to put your bag down. There are still used plasters and discarded tissues dotted around like the chips in a particularly vulgar cookie and as for the toilets themselves…Well, they are about as welcoming as a KGB interrogation or a hug from a lioness who’s just watched you murder her cub.
Back to the toilet humour. Let me ask you this: how does a toilet end up with a broken lock? How does a toilet end up with a busted toilet seat, or no toilet seat at all? Why is there a steaming pile of faeces sat in the middle of the cubicle floor? Well, the short answer is that someone did it – but who? What kind of sadistic, cretinous, miserable-lived wretch sits in a cubicle and thinks ‘You know what would be really, really funny? Smashing the lock off the door. Yeah, genius! There is nothing, literally nothing, in the world funnier than somebody having to take a dump without being able to lock the door. Ha ha ha ha ha! I don’t know if they give out Pulitzers or Nobel prizes for these kind of things, but, in all honesty I think I might get one for my outstanding contribution to comedy.’ These mutants seem to forget the inalienable truth that sometimes we all have to go, so it is not as if there is a specific target for their ‘joke’ – it could even be them that ends up becoming the poor sod that tries to stretch their arms far enough to keep the toilet door pushed shut when there’s nothing to protect them from a humiliating ‘walk-in’, or tries to devise ingenious locking mechanisms out of their bag, pens, tampons, keys, coins, clothing or anything else that they can find in order to go through the motions in peace. I hope it is them.
I hope they kick the lock off a toilet door and then get instantaneously stricken down with diarrhoea on a deistic vengeance level. I hope that the cubicle door is too far for them to stretch and keep it shut and I hope that when they overstretch to keep it shut they fall off the toilet and absorb the entire cocktail of effluence in that nearly-but-not-quite translucent liquid on the floor. In my dreams, while they are writhing on the floor, with their pants around their ankles, covered in muck, a busload of children on a day trip have just come in to the toilet and have stopped to laugh themselves hoarse at the circus freak-show taking place in cubicle 1. Because, who does it? Seriously? Even if it is vandalism then it is about as creative and challenging as an album track by The Script. Draw a cock, write obscenities on the wall, put your mate’s phone number on the mirror and tell the world that they are hungry for adolescent balls – there is at least a modicum of invention in these deviances. Just don’t bloody kick the lock off the toilet door – nothing could be more trite and clichéd, or more universally irritating, in the world of lavatorial defacing.
I think that is what I fail to understand more than anything. Often the aim of a vandal or anarchist is to irritate and inconvenience others. Conversely, this is usually undertaken through the perpetration of an act that will lead to the irritation and inconvenience of others. Letting off a stink bomb, gluing the lock of McDonald’s shut, for instance, would inconvenience others, but destroying the toilet is like destroying a piece of yourself – because one day in your sorry life you are going to have to use a toilet where the very same has been done, and I hope to God (though I have walked through the Rieperbahn in Germany and seen evidence to the contrary) that nobody takes pleasure from defecational voyeurism, having an audience when they need to make an essential download. If they don’t like it, then to have done it is to have undertaken a perverse form of self-harm and also to have a written a beautiful line of poetic justice. So why? Just why then?
It doesn’t end there – I have a few more gripes in this vile stand-up of sit-downs. Perhaps someone could help me understand the logistics of how a woman (a woman!) got pee all over the seat (and everywhere else) when she used the aeroplane toilet before me (there was no turbulence); I am sure that a physicist would argue that this was actually more challenging than having taken aim and fired successfully. Maybe someone knows why people enjoy breaking toilet seats off of the bowls; are there people out there who can’t resist the cold, sloppy kiss of ceramic on buttock? Are there just thousands of gymnasts out there who are able to push their hands and feet against the cubicle walls, Spiderman style, in order to unleash their ‘skydivers’ and avoid making contact with the toilet seat/bowl? Why, when there is clearly a toilet sitting right there, does someone leave a heap of downtown Leeroy Brown on the floor in the cubicle? How in the name of all things holy does someone end up ‘going’ on the back of the toilet seat?
Maybe I will never know the answer to any of these questions, but I am pretty sure that the government should invest the extra money they are raking in from wonderful initiatives like the bedroom tax in order to undertake a thorough psychological investigation into this most malingering and foul of afflictions. Until that happens, I implore, I beseech, I beg, anyone and everyone, please, please, pleas… keep your toilet humour outside the bathroom.