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I once had a friend who was writing her doctorate on the juxtaposition of statues of Queen Victoria and public lavatories – not only in the UK, but also in former British colonies. Obviously, there was more to the thesis than helpful landmarks in times of bladder crisis (she was a political scientist and went on to hold a chair at a reputable English university) but she made an interesting point.
Public lavatories are (or used to be, when they were safe to use) always situated in town squares – now you only find them at tourist attractions, entertainment venues or large places of worship.
Oh yes, and in aeroplanes. Shudder, particularly if you are travelling economy class. On long overnight flights, after the early forays by those with weak bladders who usually rush along immediately after the “Fasten Safety Belt” sign has gone off, the toilets tend not to be used until daybreak when queues of grumpy, unwashed passengers form along the aisles, many shifting nervously from foot to foot.
I can understand necessity, but in front of me there’s always a lady clutching a large toilet bag who, once safely locked in, proceeds to indulge in a very lengthy toilette as the queue outside grows longer and more impatient. When I eventually get in, all the toilet paper has been used up, the cheap toiletries provided by the airline (remember this is steerage class) are empty and the basin is full of foam and hair.
And why can’t there be separate aeroplane loos for men and women? Men leave the seat up and pee all over the floor, as any woman knows.
In time, no doubt, aeroplanes will offer “squat” loos for ladies as well as so-called “European” ones.
On a recent visit to Japan, I was in the company of 16 women with very unstable waterworks. Every time we got to a temple, a castle, or some wonderful historic or sacred site, they would all insist on using the toilet before they got their dose of culture. The problem was that there would be only a couple of sit down loos and the rest were squat loos. (Never travel in a long skirt in Asia.) The ladies were either too infirm or too physically or aesthetically challenged for the squat variety, so at least 30 minutes of valuable sightseeing would be lost as they queued for the familiar.
Is there a moral to the story? Yes. When travelling, inhibit your liquid content (that doesn’t include alcohol), avoid smoothies, fruit drinks, street food, travel companions who can’t kneip and long overnight flights.
Or just go with the flow…