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Time for an Armitage Shanks armistice?

Being the water wise people we are, we have a bucket in our shower to collect water for the garden. I’m not sure how our plants feel about being hydrated with our icky bodily run-off, but they’re not really in a position to make demands. (After all, when a drought’s on, bougainvillaeas can’t be choosers.)

Ours isn’t a huge shower, but I’m fine with the bucket being there, as long as it’s in the corner to the front of me and to the right; that is; opposite the door, and at the furthest distance from the taps and showerhead.

It seems, however, that every time I step into the shower (usually daily, I’m quite the metrosexual), the previous user of the shower (whom I shall here refer to as ‘the lady of the house’ or ‘m’lady’) has moved the bucket to a less favourable corner. That is to say, the corner opposite the door, but closest to the taps and showerhead.

This I find vexing, as it frequently results in brief but nevertheless undesirable contact between the rim of the bucket and my right calf. And so I move the bucket to my preferred corner — and there it stays until the lady of the house comes to use the shower again.

On one such occasion I wondered if, despite my disquiet about m’lady’s preferred position for the bucket, I should return the receptacle there once my showering is complete. But then I reasoned that if we both moved the bucket to our preferred corner and left it there, we would be sharing the burden equally. If I alone moved the bucket back and forth each time, m’lady would never have to move it, and that’s clearly no way to achieve equality between the sexes.

This reminded me of a formulation I conceived many years ago concerning the most appropriate default position (vertical or horizontal) for a toilet seat in a multisex sharehouse or office. (Just to clarify, I’m referring to a sharehouse or office in which there are members of both sexes, not one that plays host to a multitude of sex acts, necessarily.)

A frequent complaint about men is that they leave the toilet seat up. This is presented as no mere negligence on the man’s part, but as a deliberate, calculated act whose barbaric intent can be equated with that of clubbing a seal or harpooning a whale.

Let me suggest that if there are an equal number of men and women sharing a toilet (not simultaneously, just to be clear), and each person places the toilet seat either up or down according to preference and need, then leaves the seat in that position upon the completion of their transaction, the burden between the sexes is equally shared, as in the shower and bucket example above.

If anything, the males in this equation come out second best, since a proportion of their toilet usage will, one hopes, require the seat to be down. It would be unusual for such a visitor to lift the seat again once full satisfaction has been achieved; therefore, assuming the next visitor is female, they will find to their delight that the seat is in the optimal (ie. horizontal) position and not in the hysteria-inducing vertical position.

My point, elaborately made, is this. All other things (number of men using the toilet relative to number of women, regularity of bladder and bowel emptying, attentiveness to the position of the toilet seat and appropriate dealing therewith, etc) being equal, for every instance of a toilet seat having to be lowered following a previous visitor’s upright urination, there will be a slightly greater number of instances of a toilet seat having to be raised.

If anything, men should be complaining about the toilet seat being down all the time. After all, the consequences of accidentally sitting in a seatless toilet are mild embarrassment and the possibility of acquiring a chill (and perhaps some bruising) around the rump; the consequences of accidentally making use of a toilet from the upright position while the seat is down include, but are not limited to, getting piss everywhere.