Queen clearly wins in world of thrones
IN A rare moment of clarity last week, I realised what amazing things toilets are.
As I contemplated the old map of the world on the back of the toilet door, I realised that no matter where you are you can be fairly certain there is a facility where you can go to do your ablutions without giving it a second thought.
Every home has one. So does every other building, and councils even provide ones you can use when you're out and about.
And what a great leveller the toilet is. The Queen has one that works exactly the same as yours and mine, although she probably has someone who flushes it for her.
Good toilets have gleaming tiles and toilet paper as soft as cotton wool. Classical music plays from discreet speakers, possibly hidden inside the bowl. They even have a little old man waiting to hand you a fresh towel and wipe down the sink after you've used it.
Good toilets have heaters in the seat and the floor, and models in some of the better homes have seats that rise to a pre-set height, a gentle night-light that comes on so you don't lose your way, and a wi-fi connection that allows you to use your computer so you don't become bored while on the throne.
Bad toilets, on the other hand, have none of the above.
For starters the paper, when there is any, is more like a bit of old sandpaper than a summer cloud. The seat is not only unheated, it is so badly cracked that it is likely to take great chunks out of your bum, and the stains on the bowl aren't something we should talk about over breakfast. There is no little old man waiting with a hand towel, either.
My favourite public toilets are the space-age looking ones you find in places like the Queen Street Mall.
I'm not sure how the mall's variety work but when I first encountered a similar toilet in Adelaide about 10 years ago - a large metal structure sitting beside a busy road - it featured piped music and subdued lighting. When you finished your business and went to wash your hands, the toilet flushed automatically and after the door slid closed behind you, you could hear the entire inside of the building cleaning itself.
There was, however, a downside to all that technology as a sign inside the space-age structure warned you that the doors were on a timer and would spring open if you spent too long in there.
What it didn't say was exactly how long that period of time was. Which probably explains why there was no wi-fi connection.
It's pretty hard getting comfortable if you're going to spend the whole time worrying the door is going to open, exposing lunchtime shoppers to something they really don't need to see.
I bet there's no one timing the Queen when she has to go.
Bill Hoffman is on leave