GREECE has the Acropolis; Italy has the Coliseum.
France has Notre Dame and Britain has Stonehenge., But if you think these symbols of ancient lineage and evidence of experienced civilisation make Europeans one whit more sophisticated than a Longreach jackeroo I have only two words to say to you.
As I write I am leaving London. On a train. It’s travelling quite fast, for which I’m grateful because I desperately want to go to the lavatory and I wasn’t game to use one in the great metropolis.
The countryside might be better. If not, there’s always a tree.
Then why not use a London tree? I hear you ask.
Because most of them have already done sterling service as lavatories. You can tell by the smell.
What is it about a country that the longer it’s been around, the more noxious its public lavatories become?
Good taste prevents me going into details, but there is a risk that exposure of certain parts of the anatomy to the air of a London public lavatory can cause them (the parts) to drop off.
I remember the first time I arrived in a Queensland loo, expecting a hole in the ground and flies. You must forgive me: it was 20 years ago and I had been misinformed by a popular British press that thought Queensland was… well, backward.
Not in public lavatories, it’s not.
There are some in Townsville you could dine in. And even the most basic bush dunny would make a big improvement to Picadilly Circus. People would be queuing to use it.
Of course, there’s only one reason, basically, why a loo is less than wholesome. It’s because the people who use it have less than wholesome standards of hygiene and good manners.
I can’t speak for the ladies. I understand their sensibilities in these matters are more delicate than those of the stronger sex (clearly we are the stronger sex, or we wouldn’t have to put up with London lavatories).
It’s probably thanks to women that we dumped the word lavatory for the more socially acceptable ‘toilet’, though God knows why.
Give it 30 years and the next generation will decide toilet is too vulgar and they’ll create a new word. Unless we turn full circle and call them crappers, after Thomas Crapper, whose shop still stands – in London, naturally.
As far as the gents are concerned (gents! The lavs I’ve been in since I arrived in London haven’t been sat on or aimed at by a gent for the past 100 years!) I have deduced certain facts.
They don’t know what toilet paper is for.
They don’t know what the seats are for.
Nor the flush mechanism
Nor, indeed, the entire porcelain structure.
They do have a rough idea about the walls, though, especially if they’re white. They write on them.
I could have collected the names and telephone numbers of at least 3000 male members (pardon the pun) of the British population and, no doubt, some tourists. If I was that kind of person, which — I hasten to add — I’m not.
Pity they didn’t leave their addresses, too. I could have sent them a set of instructions.