Brian Gaherty happened to mention to one of his fellow Red Lion members that while on holiday in Paris a couple of months ago he developed an alter ego. This was a mistake because he was ordered to spill the beans in an article for Roar!
One thing about suffering from any sort of bowel disease is that you tend to lose all sense of shyness in telling others about problems “down there”, but in Paris I was to take this one stage further.
There is a lot of talk about equality, but in Paris, ladies, this just isn’t true. I know, because in the toilets of those famous bars and cafes you get the proper pedestal jobs while we men are often faced with the simple hole in the ground.
For those of you that have never seen one, how can I describe them. Well for starters imagine seeing a hole in the ground the size of a dinner plate with the imprints of a pair of size 20 feet facing you – that’s an old fashioned French toilet.
Or let me put it another way: it rather looks like someone has done a midnight flit with the toilet and I half expect the police to burst in to take plaster-casts of the footprints left behind.
In the days pre pouch I would use them with the best of them, crouched over the whole with my feet lost in those footprints, tense with the anticipation of hearing the plaintive cry of the last intrepid person to use it welling up from below.
Out I would walk to the sound of squelching feet from the footwear sodden by the tidal wave that results from the flush, back into the bar to listen to the French saying “There goes another Englishman who fell for the old ‘let him use the old hole in the ground rather than that new toilet you installed for us’ ploy…”
Happy days – but that was before I developed a scatter-gun approach to pebble dashing the porcelain and so I have succumbed to my alter ego, who I would suspect the Sun to term “loony uses Ladies Loos”.
Of course, this being France, it is not as big a deal as sneaking into the Ladies in the UK. Often you find that the ladies and gents share the same entrance way, usually with the men’s urinal in the foyer next to the wash basin.
My favourite bar at least separates the urinal with a pair of saloon doors so that you can throw in an entrance fit for the climax to High Noon, and it is handy being able to continue your conversation without any interruptions for your call of nature.
So, back to my last visit to Paris, and after several visits to prospective bars for a drink and bite to eat, only to leave after a whispered “it’s a hole” and having given up on finding a bar where the loo-nappers had not preceded me, I gave in to my alter ego and sidled into the Ladies for the first time and never looked back.
I haven’t seen any reports in the local press yet about a woman being shocked to find a man coming out of their loo but there’s time yet. In the meantime does anyone know the French for “I can explain officer”?