There’s a lot to be said for having a wazz in peace. For the most part, toilet etiquette is something you are not thought but rather learn through experience. I’m not talking about your relaxed, at home, singing a song as you widdle experience. What I am referring to, is the public arena and most likely this relates primarily to men, although the ladies out there may find some cross-over – who knows?
I was hugely traumatised as a little waif, by a penis in the zipper tragedy which I have blogged about before but that aside, like most people I have my own take on the whole area of going to the loo, particularly when I’m not at home.
Where I grew up, you didn’t go to the toilet, loo, bathroom or ‘facility’ – you went to the Jax. The Jax was a different animal in my childhood , especially public conveniences. For one thing, at home we flushed the Jax by pulling on a long chain that dangled from an overhead cistern. To this day I use the term ‘flush the chain’ despite the fact there hasn’t been a chain in our house for the past thirty five years.
As a nipper, I was warned off the public Jax where you literally had to spend a penny to use one. I was told little about why I shouldn’t ,only that they were places not to go alone, so I always avoided them without quite knowing why. If you had to go when you were out and about, pubs were always a good bet. To be fair they are everywhere in this country, but they were not always of the best quality back then when Ireland was still just a child and hadn’t learned to wash its hands.
Oh how things have changed. Now if you go to the toilet in a pub, you will generally find a clean and hygienic environment but back in the day…you had to be a bit of an acrobat sometimes. I remember going into a pub in the midlands about thirty odd years ago. I was bursting for a widdle and the barman gave me an annoyed nod in the direction of a door towards the back of the pub. Annoyed because I wasn’t buying.
I opened the door and found myself outside. There was a corrugated roof of sorts, with I suspect the intention of keeping you dry as you made your way across the yard to the toilet. At the end of the tin covered walkway, was a doorway with no door and inside was a room with one wall. Making any sense? Above, the corrugated roof theme was continued, supported by thick wooden beams. The one wall had a trough at the bottom, overflowing with perhaps rainwater, perhaps something else, I couldn’t be sure, but I had to tiptoe my way across what was essentially over grown, wazzle covered concrete, to find a dry place to stand and pee. Someone had actually glued a strip of beige lino to the ground to give the impression of an inside space. There was hardly any of it left and what was there was covered in mould and worse. You had to avoid it because it had the look of a disease infested ice rink.
The whitewashed stone wall was green with algae and it was freezing as the wind and drizzle lashed my back. Sometimes you have to go, and I had to go so I went. It was one of those “aaaaah” wazzles where the sheer relief of emptying your bladder is so great, that for a few moments you savour the fact that you have made it to a toilet before it was too late. A few seconds in, I began to survey my surroundings. I wondered where one might go for a number two but that question went uncomfortably unanswered. There was a lot of waste ground behind me and I began to get an unpleasant stench as the joy of relief was replaced by the fear of what I might catch if I touched anything.
An auld lad came in mid-stream and gave me a flick of his chin, before he stood uncomfortably close to me and unzipped his trousers to unburden himself.
“Sofowldee” he muttered without looking at me and as my brain translated his thick country accent into “Soft old day” I noticed he had adopted the drunk lean stance. For the unfamiliar, the drunk lean occurs, when a fella has had too much to drink and needs to support himself as he piddles by bracing himself with one hand against the wall, whilst holding his appendage in the other hand to wee. Usually it is not something to be concerned about, but in this instance the wall in question was host to a number of unintentional biological experiments, dripping in slime and ick – which I believe is the technical term and the less than subtle aroma wafting from its surface, was beyond belief. I felt dirty just peeing against it.
“’Tis surely.” I replied to his observation about the softness of the day and I looked about for somewhere to wash my hands, immediately realising that there was no chance of that. We both finished our toilet at the same time. Clearly, I had a lot more need to go than he as his visit was short.
“RyeupfmDublin?” We had zipped up but he was blocking my path. Again I needed all my experience to get through the accent, to reimagine his question into “Are you up from Dublin?”
The bang of gargle off him nearly made me gag and it was only two in the afternoon.
“I am for sure.” I found myself mimicking his rhythm and cadence and it came out as something along the lines of “Yamforsuoor.” I just wanted to get out of the kip before he shook my feckin ’hand. I could still see him leaning against that wall.
“JayzImrunninlate.” Now talking in his unique dialect (I’m a quick learner) I suggested that I was running behind schedule and he sucked on the woodbine that had been dangling in the corner of his mouth. He still blocked my path, seemingly determined to demonstrate his friendliness and he then plucked the fag butt from his mouth and flicked it into the yard.
“Hawldon dere boy a minute.”
I don’t know whether he was becoming more coherent, or if I was really starting to speak his lingo, but I completely understood him. He was digging into his pockets with both hands. I had no choice but to stand there and wait. I watched him as he struggled to first get his hands into, and then out of his filthy auld jean pockets. He wore the scruffiest beard I had ever seen and atop his head, was a mop of brown hair that had probably not seen water except for rain in many’s the month. He eventually produced a crumpled pack of fags.
Back then I did smoke, but I was fecked if I was going to touch anything that came out of that creature’s pocket, so I politely declined and squeezed past him. I said my good-byes and escaped the pub back onto the street. I felt like I needed a wash. To be fair I have travelled a fair bit and seen some toiletry sights I can tell you, but when it comes to rustic lavatorial experiences – that one was right up there. Normally I’d walk straight back out the door if conditions are excessively poor, but sometimes a man’s got to go…
Thinking about it now, there have been worse, but none that I could comfortably put into print. If I told you the story of a the petrol station toilet, two nuns, a bags of potatoes and a spectacular yet very tragic balancing act, those of a delicate disposition might need to go somewhere quiet to recover.. Maybe some other time eh?….
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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