The Malcontent on: the Conspiracy of the Convenience

PHOTO/Admit one

Fellow EU citizens, croquet enthusiasts and English Heritage members. Civic and moral duty compels me to alert you to an insidious interloper in our society, a threat so terrible that it will surely cause untold damage to what may amount to several whole people. It is a menace that has crept into public institutions everywhere, haunting our train stations and leisure centres: bottoms are at risk. I speak, of course, of the automatic flushing toilet.

This devious device may seem innocent enough, flaunting its ‘well-intentioned’ claims to prevent the spread of germs carried by loo-to-hand contact, by providing you a sensor to wave your hand across rather than a germ-infested lever. This, my friends, is a poisonous façade. They have us at our most vulnerable. In the last two days, I have been viciously and humiliatingly attacked by these lavatorial contrivances – not once, but twice. Whether this was by design, or mechanistic malfunction, I scarcely dare to consider, for both possibilities strike fear into my loins and cause my pen to shudder…

You may wonder what befell me during these two dark moments. I was, dear reader, simply taking advantage of my human right to a sit down piddle, when the latrine that I had patronised suddenly erupted into a toilet-water volcano. You see, the automatic flush, had flushed. Automatically. In a quite unwarranted fashion. You might say it was a sort of premature ejaculation (although I cannot condone the use of such vulgar phrases, it’s just as bad as the use of italics in formal writing. Horrible). Naturally, I was deeply shaken and left with chilly nether regions.

I am a lady of stern stuff, and undeterred by this trauma, I was determined not to allow this isolated incident to turn me from the use of public toilets everywhere. Alas! If only I had been a weaker woman! For the next time I was forced to tame the sea monster, so to speak, the forces of evil struck again. The toilet began to flush continually, one spurt after another, dousing my poor cheeks as I struggled to escape the torrents of water. I fled the cubicle in a state of complete discomposure. Regaining my wits only half an hour later, I found I had purchased a dozen costly hand sanitisers and a box of whiskey-braised shortbread from Marks and Spencers.

Sure, I hear that those in the wonderfully civilized island of Japan have purposefully installed this function nationwide, but there it is said to be an expertly engineered, warm, pleasant and hygienic experience. The aforementioned attacks by automatically flushing toilets are certainly none of these.

I scarcely need mention the other hazards of the modern public convenience system. Underpowered hand dryers. Toilet attendants of the opposite gender. The loos on Virgin Trains whose doors mysteriously take it upon themselves to unlock and slide inexorably open on a packed service from London to Edinburgh, leaving you hopelessly compromised and the laughing stock of the crammed corridor, as you desperately try to shut said sliding door without raising yourself from said toilet. Havoc, I say!

I believe that this amounts to nothing less than a conspiracy. Such vile happenings can only have been cooked up by a desire to undermine the dignity of all non-standing loo-users. A public inquiry must be launched post-haste, before any more innocents fall victim to the fear and embarrassment wreaked by the automatic flushing toilet. Until that time, I urge you all to be vigilant, and practice pelvic floor control exercises, so you might escape falling prey to the public toilet…


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