Sunday 25 February 2018



I was on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere between Sydney and Melbourne. Must have been 40°C in the sun, and although very familiar with hitching, I was new to Australia.

Glancing down at Blue Bag on the ground beside me, I saw it was crawling with thousands of ants. An hour earlier I’d laid a wrapped burger on top of my bag for about five seconds, but clearly that left enough scents of interest to alert these - ouch! - little biting bastards to swarm over my most treasured possession.

Lifting Blue Bag I shook it and swiped it, encouraging an expeditionary force of the formic acid carriers to crawl up my arm.

That was when the pain hit me. 

My gut 


and oh 
yes oh 
right now
urgently needing to 

void itself.

Natural ownership of my intestines had suddenly disappeared. They’d declared UDI and their contents were on a March for Freedom.

To my left, to my right, hundreds of miles of flat Australian beige scrubble.
Between them, a busy major road.

Nowhere to run, nowhere to pooh, except over there, a tatty old corrugated steel barn, so off I went, clenched of sphincter, to discover it actually had a toilet. 

The rest of the barn was exposed to the road, so there could be no commando ablutions. It had to be the little loo.

The dunny.



There was no room for Blue Bag, and even if there had been I’d not rest it there. That bag had sat on every surface known to man and nature, but this was alien.

A tiny cubicle with daylight only peeping in below the corrugated sheeting, the air was old, stagnant and roasting. 

Every single surface had been colonised by beast, bug, mould or fungus, and as soon as I closed the door, I started to sweat like a power shower.

I’d have done it anywhere else. Give me a bush to hide behind and I’m your sub-human, but I couldn’t bring myself to drop my kecks in full view of all those passing motorists.

Chroist there’s a Pom over there taking a shit on sacred Aboriginal land! Call the cops! Get the bum extradoited!”

Stumbling out into the fresh air (40°C never felt so cool!) I was delighted to find Blue Bag ant free. Three minutes later that heat had dried me out. I was empty, happy and on the road again.

Sadly though I wasn’t free of that dunny.

The smell; the heat; the corrupted foul marriages being forged in there, between the human, animal and plant kingdoms: it has stayed with me since 1984.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised when the memory of it rose into my mind, making me laugh out loud last week, while alone in a Co. Galway pub toilet.

You see, I’d been getting all grumpy and unnecessary with the working of this Gents. All swish and modern, with polished surfaces and under doo-daa lighting, it caused me to raise my eyebrows when I first walked in.

Just a few years ago this very shiny Gents had been Da Jacks: that stalwart bastion of rural Irish pub attitude, with dead flies on the windowsills, cobwebs in the corners and a good millimetre of dried yellow scale under the collective trough.

Now, like wow, it looked so good, but that’s the point.
It just looked it.

The old jacks had a turn tap, with a lump of soap and a rotary towel. You could wait for the water to heat up, use the soap and wash properly, then pull down a foot of pristine cotton and dry your hands.

Instead I found myself playing an absurd game which involved running up and down, hitting three hot taps on three basins so that I could get enough water to wash my hands, before the timey thing ran out on the rising faucets.

Five seconds of tepid water doesn’t do it for me. I understand the pain in the hole it is for landlords when someone floods the bathroom, by leaving the tap on, but please, ease up on the tap technology, especially as so many pubs are trying to flog us food these days. 

If there’s cooking and eating going on, give hygiene a chance, eh?

At least there’s the electric hand drier. 
Surely that must be an improvement on that old towel nonsense? 

Sadly, no. Most of the electric hand driers we encounter emit a delicate and gentle kiss of sparrow’s fart, which would take several centuries to dry your hands, so instead we end up wiping them on the back of our jeans.

Well, I do.

At the other end of the scale come the skin shrinkers. Their pummelling blasts dry your hands quickly, leaving them feeling warm and lovely.

Unfortunately, in the process, they have also scattered infected faecal droplets of water all over your hands, arms and face, as well as Jackson Pollocking all the surrounding walls.

The Dyson goes one better, by needing you to slide your hands in and out of a slat.  Rather like one of those old fairground games, where you had to guide the ball along the curvy metal line without touching it, you must dangle your hands in and out of the drier without coming into contact with the plastic, as that tiny area has been touched by every single hand that’s passed this way.

What was wrong with the rotary towel? They cry about the environmental and monetary costs of laundry, but what about the manufacture and running costs of these electric jet streams drying your pinky?


Then I remembered that microwave of an Aussie dunny and all was good. 

What a spoilt brat I can be sometimes. 
This is a wonderful loo.

Don’t much fancy ordering food, though.

©Charlie Adley

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