Sue Limb ...on the toilet again
*ME IN THE 1960S, INCIDENTALLY
‘In one dream recently I finally found a lavatory and sat down upon it only to be interrupted by Vince Cable who came in and kissed me. You can’t pee if Vince Cable is kissing you. Believe me, I’ve tried’
Imust apologise for writing about lavatories yet again – a favourite subject of mine for decades. I’ve been forced into it by an outrage at Kemble station. I’d gone to meet a train in the middle of the afternoon. Before setting out I had downed about six cups of tea, and I reckoned I’d just have time to visit the Ladies’ loos before the train came in. Desperate, I ran across the bridge, sprinted (no, let’s be honest, hobbled) down the opposite platform and threw myself at the door. It was locked. At half past three.
There were, of course, interested bystanders, God rot ’em. My first job was to suggest that I had thrown myself at the door, not out of a desperate need to pee, but as part of a graceful modern dance. I pirouetted gracefully back up the platform and crossed the footbridge with three entrechats and an arabesque.
Arrest was now becoming likely, and the police have been in touch with me before about an outrage at Kemble Station. (The previous occasion involved bad parking, and honestly, I hardly even clipped it.)
There’s a promising sort of deserted track behind the car park at Kemble, the kind of place where, if one were so inclined, one could go to get murdered on a foggy evening in November. Could it offer a convenient thicket? I hesitated.
People were milling about with their wretched eyes open. (Such an antisocial habit.) I reckoned I’d have to walk about half a mile down the deserted track to reach any kind of seclusion, and by then I’d be within hailing distance of Tarlton, a village so exquisite they probably have a byelaw saying people are only allowed to pee there about once a year even indoors in proper loos.
I decided I would have to hang on until I got to Tesco’s in Tetbury, although for a moment I did consider jumping on the train when it arrived, dashing into the loo, and then jumping off again just before it pulled away. But there are those awful forbidding notices about not using the toilet when the train is standing in the station. I’m not sure what terrible price you pay or how they catch you at it. CCTV? One is always being watched, these days, by the invisible eyes of cameras – a bit like God in the olden days.
In fact it’s God who’s behind all this horrendous shame. It’s all right for supernatural beings. Like the Queen, they don’t have to pee and poo. Angels famously don’t have rude bits. At least, the ones I know haven’t. And it’s Protestantism, with its shedload of guilt and shame, what dunnit. The Romans were fine about peeing and pooing, in fact they had communal loos where you would go and sit in rows and have a laugh and discuss discusthrowing.
Because of Protestantism, we now need privacy. This results in those terrible lavatory dreams, or rather, escalating nightmares. The brain knows we want to pee, but it also knows we mustn’t wet the bed. So in our panicky dream we run from loo to loo in search of one with an appropriate receptacle in it: a lavatory, not just a soup bowl, a wash basin or, dammit, just a blank floor. In one dream recently I finally found a lavatory and sat down upon it only to be interrupted by Vince Cable who came in and kissed me. You can’t pee if Vince Cable is kissing you. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Back in the summer I visited the Goods Shed, Tetbury’s classy new arts centre, before it was quite finished, and there was a row of lavatories lined up temporarily in the main performance hall, waiting to be installed. It was so like a dream, or a film by Bunuel, it sent shivers down my urethra.
I suppose death will put a stop to all this nonsense. After my mother’s funeral back in the 1990s, my infant daughter enquired, ‘Mummy, what will Grandma do now if she wants to go to the loo?’ En suite graves? I bet they have them in America.