I realised during my work’s Christmas do recently that topics of conversation at the dinner table are pretty much limitless. You can traverse easily from discussing the merits of the new inner city one way system to speculating over the identity of the person who takes their own toilet roll into the cubicle. However, if you’ve found yourself entertaining others about toilet related incidents while people are trying to eat their meal then you’re probably English.
I’m English. There’s no denying it. I was born in England, as were my parents, as were my grandparents and my great grandparents. I know that for a fact. And so it’s an inherent desire of mine to talk about toilet incidents when others are eating. It’s not a deliberate effort to put other people off their food; it’s just a topic we’re all irreversibly attracted to (after all, we all have to use toilets).
At least on a blog I can be excused for not knowing whether my paper thin audience is eating or not. Anyway, this prelude has served its purpose to clear the way for one of my favourite toilet stories (I have a few, I’ll be honest) and I have to go back a few years to recall it.
The incident took place in the toilets of a Huddersfield nightclub called Camel. It was a Thursday night – a student night – and, having downed several pints of popular branded cider, I had long since broken my seal and desperately needed the toilet. For anyone who has ever been to Camel, they’ll know that there are two options when it comes to emptying your bladder – the large toilet near the entrance of the club, which was usually manned and worth avoiding at all costs (no one should feel the pressure of paying to pee), and the hidden gem at the back of the club – the smaller, unmanned little boys’ room where there was just enough space for two lads to stand uncomfortably close together in front of one shared urinal.
It was in this confined space that the incident happened. Upon entering the secret gents at the back of the club I was delighted to discover that I was the only one in there – always a bonus. However, I wasn’t in there long before I was joined by a lad who had carefully negotiated the few steps into the room before struggling with the door. A few seconds later we were stood peeing side by side, like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Enter a cumbersome, slobbering character. He possessed a pair of heavily glazed eyes. As soon as I saw him I realised immediately that he was the sort of person that you shouldn’t make eye contact with. He was mightily pissed. He looked like he wanted a fight. My urinating colleague was pretty pissed himself and failed to observe the first rule of toilet etiquette: don’t look into the eyes of another man while you’re peeing.
The slobbering one took exception to this mini stare. He let the door swing shut ominously behind him and the atmosphere immediately became intense. There wasn’t a lot of room and no easy way to get out. I was desperate to finish before something started. Things got so bad that I even considered leaving without washing my hands.
Even though I was averting his gaze I could tell he was stood there, chest out, head back, chin up, legs slightly bent at the knees, arms dangling by his side, wrists turned outwards Liam Gallagher style. He wanted some. He was up for a fight. I zipped up and turned to the sink, which was directly behind me. He didn’t move to take my place at the urinal.
“Oi bro,” he hissed. “You’re not going anywhere.”
My heart sank. I wasn’t up for a fight. I hadn’t fought with anyone since the time I lamped a lad in the mouth in the school playground when I was eight years old only to discover that he wore braces and I’d done more damage to my fist than his teeth. I kept my eyes down and turned my head enough to note that he was still facing the lad at the urinal. The words and aggression were not in my direction. The fear eased somewhat but I was still concerned about how I was going to get out of the room once I’d finished washing my hands. Tension was high. Everything hung on the next few seconds. And to my delight the lad at the urinals came out with one of the best comebacks ever.
“I’m not your bro,” he explained, as his head tilted back, knowingly. His eyes widened. “And I think I’m going everywhere.”
It was a comeback of such epic proportions that it confused the aggressor for long enough that it facilitated my escape, and for that I’ll be forever grateful to the wit of my urinating colleague.