Monday, November 21, 2005

If The Ladies Of The World Toilet Organisation Had Visited The Gentlemen's-Excuse-Me, They Would Not Be Asking For Equality

From Singapore, some extraordinary news. Acting on recommendations issued by the World Toilet Organisation, Singapore's National Environment Agency has issued guidelines which require public facilities such as restaurants, bars and nightclubs to have "equal facilities" for men and women. In larger venues, such as cinemas, the Ladies'-Excuse-Me will have facilities outnumbering the Gentlemen's by a ratio of 14:10.
The Australian newspaper, The Age, quoted Ms Elisabeth-Maria Huba, a German social scientist, as saying that: "The human female tendency to go to the lavatory in pairs is a natural instinct that has evolved over millennia, and is merely reinforced by social practice. Men have it quick and easy. For a lot of women the toilet is a place they are afraid of. When there are … disgusting toilets, women go together to protect each other."
Now, I am all for equality, and some of my best friends are ladies, but this - to paraphrase one of the Scotsman's vast legion of ex-editors - is "political correctness gone rife". One need not be incontinent to understand that the public lavatory is in crisis, and the facilities for gents are often of a standard that would be flattered by the word "basic".
A few years ago, against my better judgment, I attended a football match at Hibernian's Easter Road Stadium in Edinburgh. I still have flashbacks from my visit to the facilities there. It was quick, but it was far from easy.
The Gents was housed in a dark, damp cellar. There was no porcelain, or tiling. One went, so to speak, against the wall, and the urine ran down the famous Easter Road slope towards a gurgling maw. I cannot recall whether there were sinks in there, but I did get the distinct impression that anyone who loitered in order to wash his hands might have found himself embroiled in the kind of mortal danger one reads about in Japanese war comics.
Personally, I am all in favour of parity in public conveniences, but this would often mean that the facilities for gents required upgrading. As a rule of thumb, urinals should be replaced by cubicles with at least two reinforced doors and a ready supply of Marigold gloves and Toilet Duck.
Shy Bladder Syndrome is no joke. The World Toilet Organisation must get to grips with it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The most dire excuse-me I ever visited sounds much like the one Mr.
Elder describes. Suffice it to say, it smelt of loam. And urine, of
course. It was what we in the States call "unisex."