How to be Popular: Toilets

Having reached the ripe old ovary-withering age of 30, I can tell you with confidence that I have finally discovered how to be popular.

Say that you regularly frequent the drinking dens of central London. Which you do, clearly, because there’s no better place to watch your best years drift away from your outstretched, liver-spotted claw. You drink in pubs, and clubs, and bars. Consequently (and this is nothing to do with age) there is an inescapable need to use a toilet. Even the best drinkers among us need a slash after nine bourbon and diet cola drinks.

You find the tiny sign showing the path to the toilets, take the long, uneven flight of stairs, then accidentally try to barge your way into the pub’s living quarters or a broom cupboard. Or worse, the confusing pissfest which is the Gent’s toilets. (I’ve never understood the logistics of urinals, nor do I care to.)

Finally, you have reached your destination, although you’re pretty sure you could have got all the way to fucking Narnia and back by this point. You’ll know you’ve reached it when you’re greeted by a blast of hot fetid fart air, endlessly swirled around the enclosed space by those old-fashioned hand dryers, which are about as effective as an asthmatic old man blowing on you.

Loo with a view

Picking your way through the puddles, you locate the only toilet with an in situ seat and a locking door that hasn’t had the bolt replaced with a tightly-packed wad of greying bog roll.

Have you ever noticed the toilets in these places are generally fucking minuscule? Probably not if you’re a tiny slip of a thing, but I am often forced to straddle the toilet to be able to close the door, or worse, nestle both legs up against The Special Bin, which is inevitably spewing parcels of bloodied hazardous waste.

Then you realise, mid-flow and too late, there is no fucking toilet roll.

You call out to the others in the loo to see if anyone else has any in their cubicle. (It’s OK to talk to strangers in the ladies toilet for this reason – sisterhood, etc.) Aside from a damp, shredded single square you see on the floor, there’s none to be had, and you have some standards. (Discussion of standards for what goes near my private regions is a subject for another post, probably.) There aren’t even any hand-towels with which to block the Victorian plumbing.

You don’t even have a sanitary towel in your handbag that you could repurpose, after you used the last one to create makeshift anti-rub padding for disintegrating trainers. (Pro tip: Use gaffer tape too.)

But, then! A moment of clarity cuts through the pissed/pissy haze. You remember that once you were told how to be popular by a great person on the Internet, and therefore you have A PACK OF FUCKING TISSUES IN YOUR HANDBAG like some kind of GENIUS.

Passport to popular

Firstly, obviously, sort your own lettuce out. That done, you can then joyously call to the others in need, and pass them a square of quality Lidl’s Floralys 3-ply tissue each.

As they are likely to be as tipsy as you are, they will greet this news with great happiness and effusive thanks. You leave your cubicle, telling the women in the queue nonchalantly, ‘There’s no loo roll, but here, take this’, benevolently handing them each a tissue, until there’s none left. Hero. (They don’t know that you have a second packet in your bag, save that for the next pub.)

And the crowd goes wild. You are now popular. You are their queen. The Bono of bog roll. The Mother Teresa of tissue. Revel in your 60 seconds of popularity. They adore you.

Now get the fuck out of the toilets, it stinks and your shoelaces are getting wet.


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Image credits: Main image by mountainpete and Loo with a View by darkday, both used under this licence. Passport to Popular by Llia Apostolou