Frivolous Monsters

Toilet Tales 05

As a local writer of no celebrity and even less fortune I naturally dine at the finest tables and hang out at the trendiest scenes. And by that I, of course, mean the library reading room and the lowliest possible table in Costa Coffee outside the toilet door where no-one ever wants to sit. But by frequenting these locations it does put me in the sphere of influence of certain local characters.

Costa Coffee

One of the problems sitting outside the solitary all-purpose Costa toilet is that when a second customer turns up and finds it engaged they have to hang around me in my little alcove with an embarrassed silence and neither of us trying to make eye contact.

On one occasion I found that some woman had the temerity to ask me if I was the toilet monitor, when I told her it was occupied, however I only kept piping up when someone new appeared partly to alleviate user-disappointment, but mainly because I was fed up of everyone ignoring the red engaged sign and just rattling the door handle repeatedly until they realised that it wouldn’t open.

One such person who ended up queuing in my vicinity was a large angry-looking guy who stood about impatiently waiting to go in, all pent up an ready to snap, and so it made interesting viewing to juxtapose him with the doddery northern pensioner who ambled up behind him whose opening gambit on joining the queue was: “Is somebody in there, cock?” before soon as he carried on speaking it was soon “cock” this, and “cock” that, as he threw “cock” about with gay abandon like only elderly northerners can.

I asked the old man if he wanted me to move my coat and bag off the chair they were on, so he could sit down at my table whilst he waited, and he said: “No, it’s alright, love, I’ll just stand here, love”. There’s truly something wonderful about the language how someone can unselfconsciously bandy that sort of stuff about in this day and age.

Another such logjam led to some young mother ask me if it would be “too gross” for me if she just went ahead, and changed her baby right in front of me on a chair, instead of waiting to use the baby changing facilities which lay within. I had no problem as it was a hot day and the air conditioning had packed in so I was sure that it would all just add to the coffee shop ambience or, on that day, the general funk.

And then, sat minding my own large takeaway coffee, a large woman came up to me and asked if I worked there because she wanted to offload some absurd complaint about a wet floor which she began outlining before I was able to open my mouth and say “No”. Upon discovering that I wasn’t the super-manager, willing and eager to bend over backwards to accommodate her every whim, she wondered off, affronted, muttering: “Well, you’re always in here”.

She was right, I was always in there, I should have been on the minimum wage, at least.

Soon after this the manager came past and paused to question the peculiar smell. I pleaded ignorance and kept my mouth shut.


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16 thoughts on “Toilet Tales 05

  1. I used to do the same! Sat in a Costa that luckily had a toilet upstairs though so I didn’t have to deal with that but I used to people watch so much I’d be super unproductive!

  2. You could choose a different corner. Just a thought.

  3. You haven’t been trying out Costas further south have you? I thought ‘cock’ as a friendly expression as in ‘wotcher cock’ was more of an East End of London thing – I wanted to say ‘Cockney’ but there seemed to be too many ‘cocks’ in one sentence. And now there are.

  4. There is a new Costa just opened in the Arndale in Middleton. Just one toilet in there, too. Why is this standard practice? Serving drinks, it is surely only a matter of time before we see toilet rage clashes.
    Toilet monitor- I see an opportunity.

    • I have never been in there, but been past it a lot on the bus route to Oldham. Many a night have I been abandoned there on the way back… when that place was closed. Size of the shop is probably the factor which was why ours was an all-purpose toilet. Now they’ve expanded, knocked down walls into the next shop, and now there are three… and my anti-social table has gone. And some people call that progress.

  5. You’re sounding as if you’ve reached an end of a chapter or have just given up coffee?????? Or, perhaps you’ve deserted Costa for a competitor cafe – the plot thickens.

    • Funny that’s how it sounds. I am collecting material together for what I jokingly refer to as a book. So I’ve been weaving the coffee shop stories together which previously only existed as short vignettes. All I have left to get down, coffee-wise, is the end… how they expanded and I lost both my seat by the toilet where nobody wanted to sit and my comfy seat on the sofa where I could encounter strange people and see every going on in the shop. All gone.

      By the end of my “book” I’m trying to demonstrate the principals of entropy, how everything falls apart, because it seems that everything I’ve written about has come to an end, or closed, or disappeared. I like to think it gives a nice arc for the “book” charting my failing attempts to become a successful writer.

      And even though that is sort of nearly finished I am still writing for here – book 2? – as there has been something going on in my life for the whole of this year that I’ve been documenting and I think it’s coming to an end. I don’t know if people will read it but there’s a whole lot of words coming at some point soon.

      • Ah, yes we can’t escape entropy, but, hopefully, when you get one of your books published you’ll be flying in the face of physics (2nd law of thermodynamics??) and there will be a new beginning for you instead of dispersal. 😉

    • Yes, the second law of thermodynamics. A lot of it is me coming to terms with my roots, too, and taking “ownership” of the area in which I grew up. I am slow like that.

      • Perhaps it’s a case of knowing yourself within the context of your home/area environment which does not come to most people quickly or easily at all. I’m guessing the writing process has been the catalyst for your reappraisal of said roots. I hope it’s been a rewarding endeavour.

  6. Best post ever.

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