Sunday, June 04, 2017


During a period of insomnia last night, my brain started riffing about loo handles.

When I was little we lived in part of a converted Victorian pub and we had a very old toilet with a pull-chain handle. It was utterly terrifying, but you had several seconds to escape after yanking the wooden chain-pull. Ear-splitting mechanical wrenchings started up, metal screeching against metal, a few seconds of watery-sounding thought, and then a deafening cascade of water would crash into the toilet-bowl, splashing like Niagara Falls and making you think that the dam was going to burst and the house would flood.
While all this was going on, you had the opportunity to race back to bed with your heart thumping like the clappers, get under the covers and lie there puffing and panting while the whole frightening auditory experience completed itself.

So: young toilets nowadays.
Gone are the simple grip handles that you pressed down; now we have a confusing array of mechanisms that are difficult to understand.
What about those big-button, small-button ones?
Does the big button mean 'more water' and the small one, 'less water'? Or does the big one mean 'I'm big, please press me for more common use', and the small one mean 'Don't use me often, I'm small?'.
Even worse, the divided ones. Press both at once? Only one? Which one for which function? My fingers are too fat for the skinny little one on its own. Do I commit the heinous crime of wasting water because of this physical shortcoming?
An anyway, the button press things often don't operate properly, activating only a sad dribble of water for all that effort. Fail.

By far the worst ones are the automatic ones in stations and airports. If you're not careful and you lean back, you activate them accidentally and get showered with cold water which can be a terrible shock and can spoil your day. The facility appears to have made a decision on your behalf, which is deeply worrying. A toilet with a mind of its own is the stuff of waking nightmares.

Thank goodness I fell back to sleep.

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