Gawping

gawpDo you gawp?

Gawping is rampant in the UK. It’s everywhere. It’s like a disease. Gawping is something that needs to be stamped out before it gets out of control.

What is gawping?

Gawping, or gopping, comes from the verb to gawp; a gopper or gawper is someone that gawps. In my experience you find goppers or gawpers in most places north of the Watford Gap especially at weekends when they are most prolific. They can be found in town centres, supermarkets, out-of-town shopping centres, on the road, tourist spots, and areas of outstanding natural beauty as well as places where people gather such as festivals, fayres and shows.

Gawpers can be compared to when you’re happily tootling along a twisty bendy uppy downy country lane and a tractor pulls out in front of you and the next overtaking spot is 5 miles down the road…On the other side of a hill…With a growing queue of traffic behind you.

You can usually spot a gopper by their gait as they tend to shuffle zombie like aimlessly about the place. Gawpers are social animals too, they tend to gravitate in packs especially in areas where people are either in a rush or have a better idea of their destination. Sometimes goppers will be armed with small children, pushchairs or trolleys and will frequently congregate in places where there is little room for overtaking.

Genera of gopper

gawpingGawpers are a pest to society. They can cause delays on public transport, on the road and even in situations where expediency is crucial to preservation of life.

Consisting of both genders, all ethnicities and cultures, it has been reported in recent times that gawpers come in two distinct types, the gormless and the attitude. The gormless gopper is a harmless irritant. They will eventually become aware of their goppishness and correct their behaviour, and, in some cases, often apologising.

However in poorer areas of the UK and in parts of the UK where people tend to think of themselves as better than everyone else (typically Conservative heartlands), a new species has been spotted. Often accompanied by small children or tattooed gorillas, this type of gopper can become aggressive when approached. The aggressive gopper will often have a swagger about itself and can be heard growling the words “Wanker” or any similar vulgar term. They tend to have an air of self-importance and may express opinion about their “right to be there”.

This behaviour should be monitored and reported to authorities immediately as, if left unchecked, their type might become rife and spoil society for the rest of us. Wild Goppers have, in some instances, been identified with far right political movements that use skewed ideals of British values to further their foolishness and they often fail to understand or refuse to accept that polite gentlemanly or ladylike behaviour and courtesy is tantamount to British behaviour.

Gawping causes

115123381This is a moot topic. Some believe gawping has something to do with a decrease in self-awareness brought on by isolation and the rise of social media affecting how humans interact with each other. Others believe that it is a virus or some divine punishment while some learned professionals debate whether the rise in gawping has risen due to the proliferation of hand held electronic devices such as smart phones and tablet computers.

Indeed, a vast majority of gawpers (or goppers) have been sighted equipped with smart phones often leading to the discussion that the word “Smartphone” itself is actually a misnomer.

Moreover, pre-handheld technology era sightings of the gawper regularly occurred in bookshops and magazine stalls where the male could be found blocking the aisles whilst thumbing through the pages of a magazine. Of course, nobody is entirely sure. Some even argue that gawping is solely a male thing yet there are examples of female gawpers frequently reported.

Professor Knobsock, head of Gawping Studies at Madeup University said: “Studies have been conducted with gawping and attractive vistas for example. One might expect that gawping levels increase in the presence of something attractive or beautiful be it scenery, art or personage but this is not always the case. Frequently it has been shown that gawpers are an entirely separate genus of homo sapiens sapiens and that can only mean that it is a result of government experiments or that simply there is no hope left for humanity.

I see gawpers what should I do?

PAY-Burgler-caught-on-CCTV-at-a-couples-house-in-DaventryIf you see a gopper (or gawper), you should take care to note which genus the gopper is. Harmless or common gawpers can be asked to move or gently nudged out of the way with a shopping trolley in the back of the heels. Wild and vulgar gawpers should be hastily overtaken at the earliest opportunity, preferably with as wide a berth as possible.

Being rude or impatient with gawpers can result in altercations, and it should be noted that being rude or impatient is unBritish. UnBritish behaviour around the Wild Gopper can result in the attraction of unwanted behaviour or result in even more unBritish behaviour from the Wild Gopper.

If your local area becomes overpopulated with gawpers then it is suggested that you relocate or try to establish some sort of educational programme in your local community. Failure to address the issue of gopping (or gawping) in your community may result in infection or thermos-nuclear eradication by authorities.

I am a gopper what should I do?

Be more considerate to your fellow pedestrians. Step aside. If someone wants to pass, don’t snarl or look gormless, politely say “I’m sorry”, step aside and wait until those behind you have gone. Then reflect on why you’re such an inconsiderate useless waste of space. Preferably somewhere out of the way of others. Then, when you have reflected upon this, realise your best place is at home, on the sofa in front of the TV or Facebook where your gopping behaviour has a lesser effect on society.

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At the weekend the wife, an out-of-town friend and I nipped out to the lovely town of Royal Leamington Spa for a mooch around the Peace Festival.

IMG_1025
Leamington Peace Festival 2015

The Leamington Spa Peace Festival, for those who don’t know, is an annual rain causing event held in the Pump Room Gardens and features all manner of new age nonsense such as yogurt weaving, kaftan liberation, tofu swallowing and vagina floating.

The food sold there is mostly vegetarian to vegan on the omnivore spectrum. Free range falafel chocolate bars, organic gravel soaps, crunchy compost on a stick and fair trade mong bean ice creams abound. That kind of thing.

As well as hearing local folk bands and pan pipes, it’s also a good opportunity to see the latest trends of the anathematic capitalist hippies are pushing onto today’s youth. For example, stove pipe hats seem to be entering a renaissance, gong showering is breaking into the wavy world of healing and knotted dyed rags are this year’s rad hair fashion (again).

An aging hipster
An aging hipster

With hipsters now denying their own existence in a Schrodingeresque fashion (you’re either a cool cat in a box or not, depending on who is observing you), goths morphing into the less threatening emo collective and  neo-nerd-geeks becoming vogue thanks to Big Bang Theory the time is right for a new collective. One that is so trendy and beyond cool that it is off the spectrum entirely, but one whose emergence will be unobserved until it has spread to a point where it becomes commonplace.

Of course it’s not just teenagers and infantilised twenteenies trying to be trendy. While beards may no longer be the fashion and half-mast trousers and arse showing waistlines have gone the back into the wardrobe for several years, the smart Sunday shirt wearing, middle class middle age organic free range grass eating daddies of the world appear to be taking their midlife crisis to the high street. Quitting their well-paid, high stress jobs and opening cafés using the stylistic ideals of designer hipsters to influence their décor.

At least, that’s how it appears from my visit to the overly trendy café, Bread and Butter on Regent Street in Leamington Spa. In what appears to be a former butcher’s shop a couple of doors down from the fishmongers, Bread and Butter just oozes huge blobs of “I’ve been to that London and seen how the well to do spend their leisure time”. I was reluctant to go in but guests take precedence and so began an experience I am about to recount.

Stepping through the door, it is difficult to see what’s going on due to the low level lighting. Windows provide free light and white tiled walls help reflect it around the important areas mostly to the till area which is sat on a thick wooden counter.

Autumn leaves artistically strewn near garden furniture

Garden furniture, the crap type that rotund people will find difficult to sit on comfortably or safely, are the choice of the day, enhanced only by artistically and purposefully strewn autumnal leaves on the floor. These, it has been debated, appear to be swept up of an evening, sieved to remove dust and detritus before being replaced after the floor has been mopped, cleaned and dried. Wankery.

Menus come in the form of a sheet of A4, minimalistic in choice, as per instructions from Blumenthal and Ramsay, but in a way that is limiting to the consumer.  Old favourites ruined by the addition of wankery. A bacon club sandwich with wanky bread and avocado. Wanky salad, served with wank. Poncey toasties with cheese and a selection of teas that would ordinarily cost you about 30p to make yourself in a mug sold at the exorbitant price of £2 for a mingy scale model cup.

I had the “slow roasted” pork  bap which came garnished with stale musty tasting crackling. This was obviously a new definition of “slow roasted” as to me, slow roasting means that the meat is succulent and melt in the mouth. I’ve chewed shoes less tough. Supposedly reasonably priced at £6.70.

During my years of eating out and writing about my experiences in the food world I’ve always said that you can’t make a restaurant or café trendy and popular by charging a lot of money for a small portion of food. Sure, you’ll get some tossers who think “Hey! This is so trendy and cool I’m going to come here every day because £6 for a stale pork butty is the lifestyle I want to lead”. But these people, like the hipsters they gave birth to, are dying out.

IMG_1026Although a greasy spoon café has its place, I’m not calling for that, I’m calling for some balance. Wankery has had its day back in the noughties when we found it ironic and amusing. Wankery today is just a road to disaster and mockery. Just as sticking the words “Organic” and “Free range” before every item on your menu is passé so is bringing the outside in, tiny portions and over pricing. The people you think you’re appealing to have grown out of this kind of approach and, much in the same way as faux-Victoriana and retro tea rooms have faded from popularity, so will wankery in décor. If it isn’t naturally worthy of brown leaves being tastefully placed on the floor, then don’t do it.

As we left and made our way back to the car, I observed corduroy trouser, gingham shirt wearing, late thirty something middle class graphic designer dad with his stay at home on an allowance yummy mummy  what lunches and writes crap fiction wife pushing  their child-with-a-neo-trad-name-like-Edna in its free range organically padded for their own safety comfort five wheeler monster stroller making their way into the café. Exactly the kind of clientele the café is trying to attract.

Would I go again? No I wouldn’t.

Barbecues

Barbecue
Looks civilised

It’s barbecue weather. Or so it seems.

During the winter, the air in Norton smells richly of burning coal, wood and melting plastic.
During the summer months, this is replaced with a heady miasma of charcoal, burnt meat and slurry, although recently this has been added to by the arrival of a fish and chip shop in the village and its associated pongs. The neighbours gather with their families and friends and burn meat to add a crunchy flavoursome crust. Then dine on said items accompanied by trendy salads and fine wines.

Meanwhile, in Gnomepants Cottage, the food remains cooked on the stove or in the oven as the once faithful barbecue was consigned to the council tip some time during the last great move.

Barbecue Barbies
This never happens

Hosting garden parties and barbecues became a thing of the past once the realisation that standing over burning coals while sausages singed was no longer fun but a chore. The realisation that watching guests get tipsy and sated on cremated burgers and battling wasps while the chefs food got even more scorched and grew colder was no fun for the chef.

I was often the chef.

More often than not, the food would be cold, the guests would be leaving and I’d be left with a mountain of soggy salad even though I’d resolved not to make so much in the first place.

Not fun.

Resolution was that no further barbecues would be hosted and that they would solely be attended upon invitation.

This Sunday in Norton was a glorious day. Neighbours fired up their barbecues and began their annual ritual of eating calcined meat goods. The air became thick with smog but few invitations arrived. But no matter.

Fire!
This is what usually happens

It was then that I realised, trend setter that I am, I had set an example amongst my friends. A fashion that no more would they hold barbecues and invite people while the hosts cooked and slaved over burning cinders only to dine themselves later on cold undercooked foodstuffs. This explains why we didn’t get any invites to barbecues from friends. That, and living out in the sticks, miles from friends and family.
So next time you’re enjoying the British summer, sitting in the garden inhaling burnt meat pollution, and have the urge to fire up the old barbecue, invite some chums and have a crap dinner while your friends enjoy the fruits of your labours, remember they didn’t invite you to theirs. Why? Because no fool wants to eat cold sausages and mountains of salad. They want their food cooked, hot and served to them by gracious hosts. They don’t have barbecues. Instead, they are sensible and have their dinner parties indoors.

Curiously I don’t get invites to them either….

Surnames

For some time now I have been fascinated by the origins of surnames (or last names if you want to be all modern and right on). My own surname Gnomepants stems from the Greek Gnomos Pantalonkikos which is a trade that was popular in ancient Greece. People would flock to ancient Athens and Crete to visit the numerous Gnomos Pantalonkikos and inspect their handicrafts. I think Plato said “My Gods! The Gnomos Pantalonkikos in my street is the best!”. At one time one of my ancestors would have been a Gnomos Pantalonkikos and we all know how important they were to the development of civilisation.

Butcher
Butcher (n) – to be a butcher
Heaton-Harris (n) - Wanksplat
Heaton-Harris (n) old Swahili – Wanksplat

So likewise when I come across unusual names I like to look them up (on google & wikipedia) in an effort to locate their origins. Today, I was dealing with a person that goes by the name of Spink. Now Spink is an unusual name from my perspective. I don’t know you might know lots of Spinks, in which case it won’t be all that unusual to you. I know several people called Grobinglops which is quite common though some would argue that they don’t know anyone called Grobinglops and they might find the name Grobinglops unusual. But anyway….that’s by the by. So I look them up and I think “oooh I wonder what their ancestors must have done. So for example someone called Colin Computersalesman would obviously have descended from a prominent Barrel maker. Likewise David Butcher would have been descended from a butcher, Barry Bumscrape – a tramp and Simon Quantumphysicist would most likely have been a quantity surveyor. You get the idea don’t you. Maybe you have a occupational surname too….I know that the likes of Sean Bean would be descended from a bean (maybe he was planted and grew) and Gordon Honeycomb would more than likely have been related to some ancient piece of a bee hive or something.

You get what I’m on about. So I looked up Spink on Wikipedia and I learnt a new thing. So I thought I would share that with you. According to Wikipedia (and yes I know that contrary to popular belief Wikipedia is not 100% reliable) a spink is the formal name for human meat! So at one time this Spink person would have come from a family of food. I can imagine them sitting in the tribal village during the harsh winter months.

Mr Chieftan – We’re so cold. All the meat and food has been eaten. What shall we do?
Mr Advisor – Well why not have a reserve of meat in the village. Fresh meat. How about that family over there? They worked hard in the fields this summer so they’re all nice and muscley. No sinew or fat on them. We could eat them!
Mr Chieftan – Who the Spinks? Well yes! I don’t like the way they look at me anyway

And so it happened, the villagers were eaten and a name gained a meaning.

People on the bus – Making the world a better place – Part two

So I’m driving home from work and I’m listening to the wireless and the Home service Radio 4.

People on the bus
Nobody talking

The programme being broadcast was about a newspaper editor from Zimbabwe and how he is adapting to life as an asylum seeker in the UK. One of the main differences, he pointed out, between Harare and the UK was how people didn’t seem to talk to each other on public transport.

Now surprisingly, this guy lives in Leeds which is a good deal away from London where I believe such practices as ignoring ones fellow passengers is common place. It kind of shocked me and my Northern mind set because I’d always thought of the south as being a bit….well you know….”insular” when it comes to talking to complete strangers. Indeed, I’m quite happy to sit there with my earphones in (sometimes without anything attached at the other end) to avoid the weirdo on the bus or being assailed by some elderly person wanting to tell me about their gout.

And that got me thinking.

Sometimes I don’t mind talking to complete strangers on the bus or in the pub or where ever. Sometimes it’s nice to get chatting about things. Why don’t we do it more often? What stops us? Fear of a stabbing? Fear of being converted into some mind numbed zombie from a Nigel Kneale story? Wasps?

I think the main reason for our inherent phobia of talking to people on public transport is fear of extreme views. Nobody likes to be trapped by someone spouting vitriolic hate or outlandish views. A case in point could be the time when Jim and I went to the Brewery Tap at the Cains Brewery in Liverpool.

We  got chatting to a seemingly jovial chap at the bar. He seemed ok, typical of the populace of the city. Friendly banter, John Lennon anecdotes, Billy Butleresque memories. However, the chat swiftly switched from idle scouse chit chatty banter to a strong antisemitic nationalist rant where one would have expected the gentleman to start waving his arm about a la Hitler at the Nuremberg Rally.

Then another case in point is the guy who once cornered me on the 78 and started talking about how the government controls the populace through the covert use of prescription medication.

Nutters.

So yeah, I can understand that people don’t really want to talk to each other on the bus for those reasons in illustration. But surely not everyone is like that. It seems people’s first reaction to someone talking to them on the bus or train or in the pub is one of suspicion and distrust.

This is my bus
This is my bus

Who is this weird person? How dare they talk to me? Are they going to knife me? Might they not try to  bum me? Or maybe stick me in a dark cellar where I will be forced to eat marmite and parsnips until the day I die?

I know I’m not likely to force anyone into eating parsnips or marmite. I don’t even have a cellar. I suppose that coupled with the fear of being attacked by marmite wielding weirdos comes the fear that they themselves would be labelled a weirdo. Fear, as they say in Dune, is the mind killer.

Then I thought, what is needed is a kind of badge system. Like say a green badge for “I’m happy to talk to anyone” and a red badge for “Fuck off weirdo”. So those with green badges can sit and yatter away to their hearts content and the red badge wearers can scowl and frown and listen to their music or whatever without interruption. It could even be a registered thing so that should you like talking to someone then you take down the number on the badge and look them up on the internet when you get home or what ever.

There could also be a voting system like say badge wearer #473083 is very interesting and like prawns so people who like to talk about prawns (there are a lot of people that do) can look out for #473083 on their travels. Furthermore, one might get talking to #23932 and find out they are one of those religious zealot types that want to turn everything into some discussion about Jesus or whatever. You know, like :-

Person #48909823 – “So do you like tea?”
Person #23932 – “I do. In fact in the book of Ba’at chapter 30 it says ‘And the lord didst partake in tea and verily there was much rejoicing’. I like tea almost as much as I like Jesus. Jesus can be your friend. Oh yes he can. Do you know Jesus? He is your friend. He is you know.”

So the person #48909823 could go and say person #23932 likes to turn everything you talk about into something about Jesus and then people who prefer to talk about Jesus all the time can talk happily to #23932 while those that don’t can talk to whoever else.

What do you think?

Of course such a scheme would require some more thinking out. But I reckon it would work well. Especially with the technology of the day.

This is, of course a giant leap to make in a society which we need to make happier and better. I suppose we can make a start by chatting, at least once a day, to a complete stranger. Just be nice. Don’t say anything controversial or boring. Just something brief, engaging and relevant to your situation. Say it with a smile rather than a frown. Or perhaps just say “Hey, Do you know Stegzy Gnomepants? He writes on the intarwebz”

Next time I will tell you more about how we can make the world a better place.

 

Bah Humbug: Day 1

Despite having shit loads of Uni work, I thought I would try and do a series of posts each day about the bahhumbuggness of christmas to go with my new seasonal background.

Day 1 – Christmas Lights

Last month, the council cherry picker came round and put up the usual festive illuminations around the main street through Brierley. This signalled the impending annual tradition of the Barnsley Christmas Lights Switch On. A tradition that dates back to the early days when locals would gather, set fire to a virgin and honour the ancient God of Coal. These days it is a more sedate affair. Local celebrities (of which there are two maybe three) arrive, say some inspiring words (“It’s Christmas” “You’re all going to die” “What the fuck am I doing in Barnsley?”) and flick a switch. A nice job if you can get it. Bit seasonal though.

This year’s switch on was about 2 weeks ago.

Now I had expected the gay baubles to be illuminated outside the Church of the Blue Bag already. But no. Possibly because Councillor/Mayor Vodden hasn’t got round to plugging in the extension cord or maybe because, as tradition holds with fairy lights, a bulb has blown somewhere down the street and the council are too busy to come and test each bulb. So there it hangs. On the street light. Dull. Dim and extra.

Of course this would probably be a problem if, over the next 3 weeks, the plethora of social housing and swaythes of other residences didn’t bedeck their houses with gaudy strings of coloured electric lighting. Already, the streets of Brierley are starting to resemble a poor man’s Blackpool and yet this is only the beginning. Residents clinging on to some vague recollection of happy Christmases past. Re-enacting, modernising and reattempting to capture that one heady happy jolly merry christmas where gran would sit in the corner farting and the deformed elderly Aunt that nobody cared for slowly got pissed on rum in front of a flue brush christmas tree dressed in Woolworth’s best bargain death trap fairy lights.

And yet, though the whole idea is frightful to some, there is something carnal and comforting about the bright glow of coloured lights against the dark December evenings. We banish the darkness with light, harking back to those long ago days when electricity was witchcraft and we would be huddled in the corner of a roundhouse with the cows and sheeps for warmth while praying that the sun would come up the next morning. So as you drive or walk down your local streets during these cold cold December nights and you observe the brightly coloured lights of festive celebrations, think. Think how those who cover their homes with more lights than a Las Vegas casino are actually trying, in some sort of primal tribal memory way, to banish the darkness. Laugh to yourself. Think how foolish they are for being afraid of the dark. Then. Walk into a lamppost.

Look where you are going.

From the Archives:- Saying Goodbye

Goodbye, I’m told, is the hardest word to say. Certainly, in recent times at least, I’ve had difficulty saying goodbye. Not because of some hideous speech impediment or because I’ve had a mouth full of pizza, but because emotionally it has proven difficult. That said, I’ve also said goodbye with as much ease as taking my socks off.

bye

 

Every morning, with the last slurp of tea still fresh on my lips, I bid the girlfriend farewell with a peck and a dash for the door. Sometimes it’s a “See you later”, others a “bye” or a “ta-rah”. Maybe I will see her later, maybe I won’t. I might fall down a forgotten mine shaft (Now what ever happened to that mine shaft I used to have?) and never be seen again or maybe it’ll be her. I can never be sure so I suppose, out of habit, manners and education, I bid adieu in case I’m never seen again. A kind of closing statement. A full stop (or period if you’re over the other side of the planet (Do you know? When Merricans say period I immediately think of women menstruating….yeah it isn’t nice).

An end.

Other people don’t tend to be so lucky, the bus driver, the shop keeper, that weird bloke with the funny smell that lives down the street, they all tend to get smiles and grunts. Maybe peppered with a “ta” or a “nice one”. Is this because I feel these guys don’t deserve a farewell? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve been on the receiving end of a broad spectrum of endings. Especially through the variety of jobs I’ve done.

 

 

In the helpdesk for example from:-

goodbye

stegzy – and that’s how you fix it
Person on other end of phone – Thank you. Bye.
stegzy – Bye

to

stegzy – and that’s how you fix it
Person on the other end of the phone**Click** brrrrrrrrrrrr

stegzy – Twat.

or

stegzy – and that’s how you fix it
Person on the other end of the phone – well that’s bally well not good enough!
stegzy**Click** brrrrrrrrrrrr

I suppose it would be not only discomforting but unusual if, when saying goodbye, everybody took the same amount of time as is taken in the last hour of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. I mean can you imagine?

stegzy – Goodbye
Bus Driver – **hugging stegzy** Goodbye old chum, what happy adventures we have had
stegzy – But we only went 5 stops
Bus Driver – Indeed, but what an adventure. I’ll miss you
stegzy – I’m only going to the off licence to get some cigarettes I’ll be getting this bus home.
Passenger A – **hugging Bus Driver and stegzy** Ha! What a wag. Goodbye old friend. May you meet fortune face on
stegzy – Jeez you’re a bunch of weirdos
Passenger C – Ha! Farewell fellow travellers!
Passenger D – Get a bloody move on, I’ve got to be places!

Be seeing you!

 

Sometimes it needs to be quick, more like

stegzy – See ya **gone**
Person A – See y…oh you’ve gone.

 

 

Personally, when I’m going somewhere I’d rather it be a small goodbye than some re-enactment of the Waltons. I mean, I’m going, I need to be somewhere, hurry up! Let me go! Mrs Gnomepants, on the other hand will spend ages saying goodbye, sometimes saying goodbye, only to start another 1 hour conversation and then have to say goodbye once again. It’s not unusual, as Tom Jones said, for Mrs Gnomepants to take 5 minutes saying goodbye on a telephone conversation to her sister. Surely all that is needed is “Bye” followed by a reciprocated acknowledgement of the end of the conversation.

 

Goodbyes though eh?….we’re a peculiar bunch aren’t we?


This entry first appeared on Livejournal in September 2008 and has been edited to reflect changes in circumstance

Bogs

When did you last use a public loo? Today? Last week? Last month?

I think my last visit to a public loo was when I went to Tenbury Wells with Z.

 

Nice looUsually, when caught short, I’ll try to sneak into a pub, pretend that I’m looking for someone and do my business there. Well…not in the pub lounge…more like in the pub’s bog. But you get my meaning. This, I must explain, is only for number ones. NEVER for number twos. And only recently, number ones in urinals.

You see, I have this dislike of public bogs; Dirty, smelly and dingy cathedrals of cess and unease. Or at least that is my experience of them. Every man that enters a public loo is potentially a murderer, a druggie or a rapist. Every drop of water on the floor a potential plague bearer and every surface the path to dysentery.

Not very nice.

2928572045_2382f5a664I suppose this began at primary school. School for me was in a Victorian building. Ageing. Falling apart at the seams. Paint peeling from the high vaulted ceilings. Wooden floors. Creepy corridors. That kind of thing. The toilets reflected a similar age. Buffed greenish brown stone urinals. The trough caked with strange solid matter and verdigris encrusted plumbing. The stalls contained low porcelain thrones that wouldn’t look out of place in a retro-furbished bathroom with rising chain operated flushers. One of the thrones was permanently blocked with matter that I care not to describe and the whole room had an odorous miasma of cheap bleach, urinary infections and damp staleness.

X20387This was probably not the thing that kick-started my dislike of public toilets. I think it was the characters that tended to loiter in this palaces of piss stink. Mostly the bullies, the ne’er-do-wells and the feckless. You know the type, they probably grew up to be successful “business men” who peddle drugs and traffic women in their vast criminal empires or, they’re locked up in prison.

The toilets were always the last place I’d want to be. I had even been known to hold off from going to the toilet until I had returned home. Something I still kind of do. British public toilets nearly always remind me of those awful facilities at St Mary’s. Sometimes even the ones in the pubs do that too. It’s like people are not proud of toilets. They’re places that, left untended, seem to rapidly decline into dirty horrid holes.

glory-holeI’ve been in nightclub toilets where the floors were sodden with liquid. I’ve been to restaurants where I’ve refused to eat because of the condition of their toilet facilities. I’ve seen sights you would never believe in platform toilets on railway stations. Even abroad, I’ve used manned conveniences that I’ve paid to use where a swish of the mop wouldn’t have made the slightest difference in cleanliness.

Now, before anyone starts kicking off about how not all toilets are like that. Let me agree with you. Not all toilets that are for public usage are like that. I’ve been in pristine bogs. So clean they smell of roses. Clean enough to pass as a toilet in a private stately home. I’ve also been in adequate bogs that, though free to use, are manned by a maintenance person who spends time ensuring that any puddles of piss are swiftly mopped up.

 

dirtytoilet

 

Then today, there came the news that a number of councils in the UK are selling off or closing their public lavs because they are no longer used or they have fallen in to disrepair. A look on the internet will uncover no end of tribute sites dedicated to the grand old public lavs that once graced UK townships. These days they are few and far between as councils cut back on budgets and sanitary services suffer.

girl-toilet01If I had the money I’d buy one. I’d refurbish the place and charge £1 to use it. I’d ensure that the place was light, airy, clean and safe for people to use without fear of a penis being stuck through a hole in the partition. Users would not have to worry about stepping into anything unpleasant and maybe even buy themselves a freshly made coffee on their way out. The attendant would be proud of their work and rewarded for such. Maybe even make it a members only place for an annual fee of say £20. Each stall would be cleaned by the attendant after each use. No fear of druggies or buggery.

 

Sadly I doubt I could raise the funds.

Cross posted to stegzyblogspot

Escape from the Toilet of Doom

 

Universities_clip_image001_0000In the West Building of uni, there is a small gents toilet. It is, as I said, a small toilet. It is fitted only with two cubicles and, unusually, there are no urinals.

This morning on my arrival on campus I made my way to the loo to clear out my cup of tea from breakfast. The long  drive from Brierley to Huddersfield makes me want to wee more than a running tap so that loo is often my first port of call.

Anyway, as I entered I noticed that, as usual, the cubicle on the left was closed and engaged. It was at this point I realised that every time I’ve used that particular loo the cubicle on the left has always been engaged.

pro_sp36_1 Today was a different day from all the other times I have been to uni as I was using the editing suite a few doors down the corridor and I was expecting to be in there all day (the editing suite that is, not the toilet). So I thought to myself I’d check throughout the day and prove to myself that surely people must come and go to that toilet and I’ve obviously just been a victim of bad timing.

So by 12pm I was in need of the loo again. I popped in and sure enough the door was closed and the smells emanating from the locked cubicle indicated that there was either someone definitely in there or there was a problem with the drains.

By 2pm I’d finished faffing and it was time for my third visit of the day. Sure enough the door was closed. This time the smells were accompanied by rustlings of toilet paper and shuffling about. At this point I was thinking to myself “Hmmm this chap has been in there all day. I hope he is ok”.

toilet-paper-toiletBy 4:30pm, it was time to go home. Rather than face the entire journey from Huddersfield to Brierley with an increasingly filled bladder, I thought I’d nip into the gents and prepare myself for the journey.

As I approached the main door to the toilet, I thought about the day and the year and how everytime I’d been to that toilet someone, perhaps the same someone, had been engaged in the left cubicle.

Was it some sort of toilet monster? Was it just some errant academic of faecal studies? Could it be some weird gateway to Poo Narnia? Or maybe there was someone who lived in the cubicle…after all…there was a Chinese student in Liverpool Uni who lived in the 24hr computer centre (Troofax).

I opened the door gingerly and there….to my abject horror…and utter terror….the toilet cubicle door………was……..

OPEN!
**insert dramatic music here**

 

Toilet door

 

Rather than risk death by poo monster, asphyxiation by noxious gases or being sucked into some faecal version of Middle Earth I still opted for the right hand cubicle. I made my business fast and swift doing up my fly zipper as I left the room to save time.

Who knows what horrors might have befallen me had I lingered?

Gimble

I predicted this
Edited to add another link – Farmers Weekly

Last night we had a fire. It was a nice fire. I went and asked G the Human Dog to take his washing in as I was about to have a fire. He thanked me for asking and hinted that other people (the Good Life at the end of the lane with no name) don’t usually ask. So I set fire to a huge pile of confidential waste and felt good that I’d contributed to global warming.

While chucking stuff into the flames of hell, I came across some magazines. I mused on how magazines are, in fact, a huge waste of money. I mean what do you do with them once you’ve read them? You chuck them out don’t you? I used to keep my magazines. I have a huge box filled with issues of failed mens magazine Later, copies of Mad Magazine from the 80’s and the abruptly cancelled horror magazine Fear. I don’t really want to get rid of them but I’ve not looked at them in years. I tried re reading Mad but the humour was weak and very dated. I might just “donate” them to the recycling people. Later has some good recipes and man tips. Fear is a curious time capsule of reviews of straight to video movies. I’ll keep them I think.

I also developed a curious discomfort in my jaw. Kind of like when you eat something really sour and the back of your jaw goes all icky. Well I’ve got that. It’s not going.

Later last evening I caught up with Heroes. I was a bit miffed that the BBC in their wisdom had put Ashes to Ashes up against it. Sorry Aunty Beeb, the last series of Ashes to Ashes sucked monkey balls, besides which I’ve invested a lot of time into Heroes.