Incipient note: People have complained about my toilet humour before. Now at least they’ve got a point.
Last Thursday we came back from a one-week holiday. We touched down in Gatwick and, being the good female that I am, I was bursting for a pee. I mean, I had to strap myself into a seat for all of landing and taxiing and then there was a queue to get off the plane at that, so it was almost 30 minutes without access to a loo. That’s just inhumane! But I digress.
The real horror came when I finally reached the first lavatory in the airport building.
On this planet, toilet designs with questionable aesthetics abound, and I’m afraid I have seen (and used) them all: Squat toilets, latrines, port-a-potties, outhouses, German dry pan toilets (they are great because your bottom stays dry but they smell like… well, potty), toilets that clog up so easily that you can’t throw the toilet paper in but have to toss it into a basket next to the loo instead…
The shocking part about British toilets, however, is not the bowl design, it’s the flushing system. Every time I am at a restaurant, cinema, supermarket, pub, park, swimming pool, mall, airport or other public place and need to take a leak, I tremble with anticipation of what I might find.
Unfortunately, in an estimated 90 % of all public powder rooms, I am greeted by The Handle.
This sight instantly triggers an imaginary sound in my auditory cortex, namely the signature screech from ‘Psycho’. That’s when I know I will speedily have to don my mental Kevlar vest to protect myself from getting too worked up about two things:
1. I will probably have to push down the lever several times with all my might in order to pump up enough water and get the flushing in motion. I try to see this part as a challenge. One can never get too much exercise.
2. Once the flushing has started, the complete tank contents will empty into the bowl and drown my modest number one in insane amounts of unnecessarily wasted drinking water. This part never fails to piss me off, no matter how thick the Kevlar.
I am frequently tempted to not flush at all, especially if the culprit isn’t me but my little monster with his *wee* bladder. But then I figure that I wouldn’t like that very much if I was the next person to use this particular cubby hole. So I flush. And try not to scream.
True, we are on an island here which, by all accounts, is haunted by copious amounts of precipitation. That’s actually a myth. As a matter of fact, East Anglia, which is the part of the country I live in, gets less annual rainfall than my home town Berlin which itself lies in one of the driest areas in Germany.
So why on earth are you insisting on using flushing mechanisms like in the times of the invention of WCs?!
Where I come from, it has been the standard for decades to equip toilets with start/stop devices. Depending on the degree of soiling you just push the stop button or tip the rocker switch back into its original position as soon as the bowl is clean. Easy.
I have never seen this logical and simple solution anywhere in the UK. That frankly baffles me.
Granted, once in a while I come across a rather modern cistern here with a dual flush system. These will allow you to choose between two different flush volumes. If you’re lucky, the right amount for your needs is among them.
Thankfully, the loos in our house are fitted with this nifty system. Otherwise I would probably just stop eating and drinking altogether.
I mean, you don’t have to be a quantum physicist to figure out that even in a normal household, with East Anglian water prices, the installation of a water-wise flushing mechanism is an investment that pays off before you can say “economic crisis”. Seeing how much more often public conveniences are used compared to my humble home, upgrading them might just *pan* out nicely from a financial point of view.
Now, please don’t get me started on the environmental aspect of wasting water!