Oh dear, just what can the matter be...
READ MORE: The Thing Is With Steve Canavan 29-03-18
Going to the toilet isn’t usually entertaining – although the late George Michael may beg to differ.
However, I had a very interesting visit to the lavatory the other day and feel I should share the experience with you.
I was in work and felt a bit bunged up after a hefty lunch of tuna and pasta so I headed to the staff loo.
As I walked in, I noted the far cubicle of four was taken, so I naturally went into the first one, furthest away.
This is simple good WC manners; I can honestly say that the men I distrust more than any other in the entire human race, above even mass murderers and Simon Cowell, are those who when in a public toilet containing, say, 15 urinals – all unoccupied bar the one I’m at – come and stand directly next to me as I’m emptying my bladder.
Anyway, I stepped into my cubicle and spent a couple of moments lining the toilet seat with carefully folded paper.
I have explained my rationale for this in previous columns so won’t go into detail again, suffice to say I’m always wary about toilet seats in public places, especially ones with suspicious yellow-looking stains on.
Now this might just be me but, in a public toilet, when there is someone in another cubicle I don’t like to go at the same time.
Being blunt, I don’t want them to hear that sound when solid hits water. It’s embarrassing. I feel they’ll judge me.
So I always sit quietly until the other person has finished and exited the scene before I deposit my own goods.
However, this time I encountered a problem, mainly that the fella three toilets along must have had a similar policy because other than making regular loud sniffing noises – he either had a heavy cold or a serious cocaine addiction – there was no sign that he was any closer to finishing his deed, or, worse still, even starting.
I, though, was determined not to give in, with the result that this stand-off – or sit-off to be more accurate – went on for a full 11 minutes.
Just as I was about to give in – partly because I was expecting an important phone call back in my office, partly because I could no longer hold in what was clearly keen to come out – a rather remarkable thing happened.
The gentleman in the other cubicle suddenly made an incredibly loud noise – as if being violently assaulted and attempting to shout for help, but not quite able to get the words out because he had a gag round his mouth –followed by a sound I can only describe as like a small bomb going off in a fast-flowing river.
For the next six or seven minutes, he groaned as if being asked to repeatedly lift a heavy sack of potatoes, and kept muttering things like ‘oh my lord’ and ‘come on you bugger’ while sighing and tutting and blowing his cheeks (the cheeks on his face, for clarity).
All the while I sat and listened, slightly mesmerised. It was less toilet visit, more as if he were doing a vigorous Zumba workout.
Eventually, after flushing four times, he rose but didn’t leave the cubicle – and instead came the sound of a lot of frantic rustling.
He seemed to be removing one set of clothes and getting into another, for what reason I don’t wish to know.
Finally, some time later, I heard him unlock the door and step out into the main toilet area.
I was wiling him to swiftly wash his hands and depart like any normal person, but instead he spent a bizarrely lengthy period pacing the sink area and muttering.
I don’t know what he had witnessed in that toilet but it had clearly deeply affected him.
I checked my watch. I had now been sitting silently in my toilet, hardly daring to move, for 26 minutes.
The person at work with whom I share my office had very possibly called 999, despatched a search party, and put a missing persons appeal out on local TV.
Mercifully, just when I thought I may have to spend the night in there, my lavatory companion – after a worryingly brief wash of his hands, I noted – swung open the exit door and it thudded shut behind him.
A rather large part of me wanted to race out after him and find out who this man with the extraordinary bowels was.
But that urge was outweighed by the relief of finally, almost half an hour later than planned, being able to do what I had initially gone in there for.
The fact that story was the most interesting moment of my week perhaps says something about the state of my life.
Anyway, have a nice rest of the day and enjoy your tea.