It was two in the morning. I’d been on the town since three in the afternoon and I’d had about fifty glasses of pint. I was dazed, confused, and, for about twenty-five minutes, I’d been trapped in a toilet in a sleazy nightspot in Lavender Hill.
As you can imagine, this predicament did not make for an ideal end to my Saturday night.
Whatever I tried, the lock just would not budge. And even if there had been room to take a run-up, build up some momentum – which there wasn’t – I was the wrong side of the lock to barge the door. If I hadn’t have been so trolleyed, I’d have had a panic attack.
Even 100% sober, employing the usual combination of wily intelligence and practical nous at my disposal, this would have had me baffled. But smashed off my box, in the early hours and with the clock set to end-of-the-night countdown and panic well and truly setting in, I felt like I was going to shit myself a little bit. Still, at least I was in the most appropriate location for that eventuality.
I glanced around the poo cubicle. You’ve been to nightclubs, so you pretty much know what it was like in there: stained squabs of soggy, used paper all over the floor, piss cascading down the walls, the unbearable stench of depravity – all present before I entered, I hasten to add. Literally, a shithole.
After a few more minutes’ effort, I had a sit down, bang out of ideas and wholeheartedly resigned to the fact that I might be looking at my new home. Could I live in here? Even the excrement-covered cells in the Maze prison ‘Dirty Protest’ scenes in Steve McQueen’s disturbing jail film Hunger were bigger than this.
So there I was, tip-toeing in the inch-deep piss puddle on the floor, listening to the muffled sounds of battered revellers having a token leak before leaving as the club closed and contemplating my bleak future as a public toilet-dwelling bog-monster, when I heard the best words ever said by anyone:
“Dude! Are you trapped in the toilet?”
As if I’d just clocked up six numbers in the lottery: “Yes!”
I did as I was told, and, like some sort of adrenaline-fuelled protagonist in a 1980s action movie, he heroically kicked the door through. Yippee ki-ay, motherfucker!
Turns out this guy had been in the exact same situation as me earlier on in the evening. On informing the bouncers of the dodgy lock, he was apparently nonchalantly told: “Oh yeah, that happens all the time with that toilet”.
Oh okay, well that’s all right then, you’re absolved of any responsibility. Because it happens all the time, as it’s such an everyday, run-of-the-mill occurrence, you may as well not bother doing anything about it. Never mind the fact that there must be hundreds of ‘survivors’ walking around south London, terrified of ever entering a toilet cubicle again and suffering extreme mental anguish and flashbacks thanks to the time they did locked down in your grimy shit-box.
And the worst thing about this situation? Everyone was waiting outside when I was released from my shitty prison, but far from a sympathetic rallying-round, I was received by a confusing mêlée of smug grins, harsh words and steely glances from people who had been forced to let others take their taxis in my absence. No one believed my story. No one really empathised with my plight. Instead, they just assumed I’d been for a monumental dump that was so protracted and disgusting I was embarrassed to admit to it.
All in all, a crappy end to a pretty nice little Saturday.