Sue Limb ...on the toi­let again

*ME IN THE 1960S, IN­CI­DEN­TALLY

Cotswold Life - - CONTENTS -

‘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.

SUE LIMB

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