As Iím stuck in the past I often turn off my bedroom light and, before sleep consumes me, I walk around some old childhood haunts like the shop we owned, the posh Narracott Grand Hotel in Woolacombe where we holidayed once, the college where I wasted two years of my life and the farmerís fields where I spent many halcyon summers. Sometimes I walk round the rugby club thatís still at the top of the lane. At the back of the club was where I tasted lager for the first time. There were often barrels lined up in the back yard and sometimes if you jammed your finger in the top a jet of beer gushed up into the air like an oil strike (never liked beer since.)
Just off to the side of club house was a small ramshackle red-brick toilet that hardly anyone knew about and was never locked.† It must have been a unisex one as there were no ďGentsĒ/ĒWomenĒ signs. I thought I was only person who knew about it. However I once wheeled my Grifter bike in there and encountered two women who were chatting and smoke - one sat on the toilet (door open) and the other leant on a wall. They were as old dinosaurs - ancient - at least 25. I said sorry, reversed and disappeared even though they hadnít reacted shock at my arrival. Now, when I walk the dog passed the rugby club, my eyes go to the patch of grass where the crumbling dark toilet block stood and wonder why random public toilets are so rare in the UK today. Iím a fan of old Victorian toilets and like this website...
I also wonder why I can remember those women even though it was about forty years ago that I bumped into them. Equally I wonder why women visit toilets together. They share cubicles and take it turns to have a wee. How can they do this? In menís toilets you never say a word to anyone, never make eye contact, do quick spacial calculations to ensure youíre as far as possible from another body,† syphon python / drop anchor, wash hands then leave with them still wet as you want to exit that horrid place as quickly as possible.
I could never have anyone in a toilet cubicle with me. I remember a carpet fitter working in one of my flats. He was laying linoleum in the toilet and I had to ask him to step out a moment while I had a wee. He stood just behind the door waiting and, for some psychological reason, I just couldnít relieve myself (I ended up weeing in an empty milk bottle in the kitchen.) I must be a terrible prude or something when it comes to private stuff. When I buy underwear Iíll head to the counter to pay but if young women are serving Iíll put the underwear back on the shelf and return another day.
So here is a painting of two women in a toilet cubicle, the viewer looking down on them. Nothing went wrong with this one and it was finished quickly. Note the toilet roll in the hand of the woman sitting down - how can women share such private intimacies this way! I donít understand it and feel a bit queasy thinking about it.
Olly the beagle isnít impressedÖ
The red-brick old toilet block was about hereÖ