Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Welsh lavatory mystery

14st 9lb; 5.0 units of alcohol yesterday evening; 1,226; Flintshire.

Another day, another squirrel hunt in the park. Today I was encouraged to note that the miniature railway actually boasts a genuine steam engine, in addition to the yellow Union Pacific diesel I saw chugging around yesterday. The latter was out again today, hauling a couple of kids around the circuit to humour their accompanying fathers, but an oversized kettle was sitting gently simmering and hissing outside the engine shed, with a miserable-looking fat man squeezed tightly behind the controls, eating a white bread doorstop sandwich to keep his strength up. How very like the real thing.

We had an enormous lunch at the LTCB’s parents’ house, where I committed a horrible gaffe by announcing with some feeling that her mother’s apple pie was the best I had ever tasted. Which would probably have gone down a bit better if she had not bought it from Tesco. On the other hand, I could hardly have announced ingratiatingly that her delicious Iranian chicken and celery stew was the best I had ever tasted, since everyone knew damn well that I had never tried it before in my life.

By the time we left I was practically comatose owing to an excess of food and drink, but somehow I managed to get through a visit on the way back to a Welsh branch of Tesco. Quite apart from the gibberish signage, I could tell I was in Wales because all the people in the store seemed to be drawn from a backward sub-set of the human species; they all moved unnaturally slowly and looked like they were struggling to comprehend reality. Which is exactly what one would expect to happen to a group that has saddled itself with a language with no vowels.

I needed a comfort break when we got to the store and duly followed the signs to the café, reasoning that the customer lavatories would be alongside it. And they were, but only a single cubicle for each sex with the male one bearing a large “out of order” sign. A couple of queueing women started gently explaining the notice to me, evidently under the impression that I was a Welshman and could not be expected to have learned to read, when a big Welsh bloke burst out of the door announcing proudly, “It’s not really out of order; it just won’t flush!”

Lovely. Funnily enough at that point I decided that I would rather go downstairs and see if I could find the other customer toilets that the sign claimed I would find near the tills. Amazingly these too were largely out of order, with white “scene of crime” tape cordoning off the urinals, but at least there was a functioning cubicle. People used to joke about the natives of the North East thinking that indoor baths were only of use as coal stores. I wonder what on earth the men of Wales use their lavatories for, that they manage to wreak such havoc?

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