I've recently made a new circle of friends, and on Saturday at the pub the conversation took that inevitable turn for people under the age of ten and over thirty: toilet talk.
Like everyone else who'd been on the internet in the last week, we'd been charmed by a lovely little story of a woman who went Number 2 in her date's house, and upon discovering the toilet didn't flush, scooped the little brown bullet out of the bowl and hid it in her handbag for the remaining duration of the date. We commended her stoicism, her humour, her commitment to Operation Women Don't Poo, and with the giddiness of Girl Guides telling ghost stories, we started sharing horror stories, each filthier than the last, some our own, some second or third hand. It was a glorious bonding exercise. Ultimately it was agreed: when it comes to fledgling romance, nothing puts the skids on like a skid mark.
“Other people should think you've never had a shit in your life,” I roared through a mouthful of garlic bread. “How hard is it to use a toilet brush?”
This, as it turned out, is the most controversial thing I've said since the time I claimed there was no such thing as a good James Cameron film (to which the mildest man I know yelled, “TERMINATOR TWO, YOU DICK!” before stomping out of my sight).
Hannah, the only other woman present, narrowed her gimlet-eyes at me. I wondered whether I'd murdered our friendship in its infancy. “Brushes are DISGUSTING,” she hissed. “They get covered in poo, then they sit in your bathroom, stewing in their own little shit bowl. I will NOT share a roof with one”.
“Use bleach! Rinse it with a flush, what's the problem?” A nasty thought dawned on me. “What do you do? Don't tell me...? You don't?!”
“Wrap toilet paper around my hand like a mummy, clean up, then wash my hands. All clean, no mess, no festering poostick eyeballing me every time I pass the bathroom”
“But..you put your HAND...in the TOILET? In the WATER!”
“Then WASH THEM.”
This revelation split the group. We argued ferociously, like kings dividing lands, spilling beer as we gestured with half-empty glasses, pizza crusts hurtling through the air as we thumped the table. We all heartily agreed that brown graffiti is unacceptable. But how to deal with a bowl that looks like it's been done over by Jackson Pollock during his brown period? I'd never considered brushes to be that gross – obviously I wouldn't brush my teeth with one, but I'd rather use one than be on my knees, elbow-deep in a U-bend. Yet here were people HEAVING at the idea: “I WILL NOT GIVE HOUSEROOM TO SATAN'S SHITSTICK!”.
Conversation then turned to a particular style of toilet in Germany with a little shelf inside the bowl, known as a “lay-and-display”, all the better for admiring your bum-fruit before sacrificing it to Hades. Although clinically useful (healthy guts are important), those who had used said porcelain shelves shuddered at the memory. “It's INCHES away from you. I've never appreciated the water barrier so much.”
I turned to my boyfriend, who's remained uncharacteristically quiet during this conversation. I've started staying with him a lot, and last week I bought a toilet brush – although his pan was always immaculate, he didn't have one.
“You don't have anything against the brush, do you?”
He looked defeated, his terrible secret out at last. “I died a little inside when you bought it. I didn't say anything because it made you so happy”.
I'm dating a mummy-hand swabber.