Tuesday 28 November 2017

Win or loos

So let's talk about public toilets. Why? Because they're getting a lot of attention these days from dissatisfied members of the public who find them lacking in one way or another. They're the hot topic du jour.

The gender non conforming population (you know, non-binary, transgender etc) want more gender-neutral toilets so they needn't use a male or female toilet they're not comfortable in.

Women on the other hand don't want gender-neutral toilets but female toilets where they feel safe from predatory males - and where men aren't peeing on the toilet seat. They also want a lot more toilets so they aren't queuing for ten minutes while the men waltz happily in and out of the gents.

People with disabilities want more disabled toilets, and ones better suited to their needs. And they don't want the able-bodied using disabled toilets because it's urgent or they're nearer.

Needless to say, those responsible for toilets seldom listen to the complaints of the users, so the failings are endlessly repeated. It's remarkable then that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said toilet provision should be reviewed so as not to drive away visitors to the capital. He's especially keen on gender-neutral toilets it seems.

Personally, I don't have many complaints about public toilets. I seldom come across a queue, I've no worries about personal safety, and I don't mind other men peeing a few inches away. My only grouse is that there aren't enough of them, and when I do find one it's often filthy.

Like a lot of women, I wouldn't want to use gender-neutral toilets. Not because I'm afraid of predatory males but so as not to alarm or embarrass any women who might be using them. There should always be male and female toilets, with or without a gender-neutral option.

Okay, that's enough of that. You must be dying for a pee by now.

Friday 24 November 2017

The cold shoulder

I'm not good at dealing with rejection. Even quite trivial rejection. Even totally justified rejection. Even perhaps unintended rejection. I can't just shrug it off as one of those things. It always hurts. It always bugs me. It always saps my confidence a little.

I know it's supposed to be a sign of maturity, of being grown up, to be less bothered by rejection and not see it as a huge slap in the face, but I do. And I bet plenty of other people do, though they don't like to talk about it.

A big rejection really hurts. If I've known someone for a while and we've been on friendly terms and shared confidences and so forth, it's hard to take it on the chin when abruptly they push you away and don't want to be friends any more.

Even when I tell myself it's their choice who they want as friends and who they don't, and it's their right to edge me away if I'm becoming a turn-off, it still cuts me to the quick.

I dwell on it incessantly. Why did they suddenly push me away? What did I do wrong? What did I say? Why overnight the big frost? Have I turned into some sort of obnoxious weirdo without realising? It takes me quite a while to stop obsessing and finally be more sanguine about it.

But even minor rejections can often sting. Just someone ignoring me, or being curt with me, or looking at me distastefully, makes me feel a bit worthless and belittled. Again, I wonder what I did to cause it. Why the visible snub?

Do other people feel as hurt when I reject them - or appear to reject them? Do they obsess about it in the same way? I hope not, but doubtless some do. This over-sensitivity is a drag, but that's how some of us are made. Like a small child who's lost her teddy bear. Pathetic really.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Tell me everything

I'm always intrigued by the way some people attract intimate personal confessions from everyone they come across, while others attract nothing but the usual small talk and polite trivia. What is it that encourages people to bare their soul to a complete stranger?

It's somewhat frustrating in my case, because although I'm very curious about other people's joys and problems and peculiarities, and how their lives differ from mine, I seldom invite such frank disclosures. Whatever agonising dilemmas people might be struggling with, they keep it all firmly to themselves.

It suddenly struck me that what puts people off might be my slightly sceptical look. I don't look as if I'm ready to believe whatever someone tells me. I always look a little wary, as if I'm not sure they're telling me the truth. They might be embellishing things, or hiding the unsavoury bits, or misremembering something, or simply making it all up. At my age I've met plenty of people who really were peddling me half-truths and outright lies, so I've become more suspicious and less gullible.

It might also be that I'm a habitually quiet person, and some people interpret quietness as a lack of interest in them. It doesn't help that I'm cautious about asking personal questions that might seem intrusive or embarrassing. Or afraid of triggering a torrent of information, half of which I'll promptly forget because of my terrible memory.

But whatever the cause, people tend to assume I'm not remotely interested in them and barely notice their existence. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I'm always burning with questions I'd like to ask, but for one reason or another they stay unanswered. I just don't have a "you can tell me everything" face. It's more like a "do you really want to tell me?" sort of face. Which is hard to readjust.

Saturday 11 November 2017

A bit on the side

I have mixed feelings about affairs. Are they always to be condemned, whatever the circum-stances? Or are they the result of natural human impulses, something that's understandable and excusable?

They're often described as "cheating", but is it more a matter of irresistible longings or personal fulfillment than cheating? Is it cheating to want more than you already have? Is it cheating to be drawn to someone and to act on it?

The real question of course is how the partner who is "cheated on" is likely to react if the truth comes out. They might simply turn a blind eye and let it go on - or fizzle out. Or they might be totally devastated and give their partner the boot. Or anything in between. If you start an affair knowing full well that your partner is likely to be shattered if they find out, then you're an idiot.

Neither Jenny or I have had affairs, but I was once sorely tempted. There was one woman (let's call her Yvonne) who had an absolutely electrifying effect on me. She aroused me so strongly that I seriously thought of trying to take it further. But I knew which side my bread was buttered, I knew the consequences could be catastrophic, and I had enough will-power to resist. But I'm still amazed at the quite inexplicable effect she had on me.

Mind you, if thought of the consequences hadn't stopped me, then I would have shrunk from the degree of secrecy and lying it would involve. I dislike secrecy, I prefer things to be out in the open,  and having to be scrupulously secretive for months on end would have really screwed me up. I would probably have blurted out the truth in a matter of days.

I won't be getting a reputation as a philanderer any time soon.

Saturday 4 November 2017

A lucky escape

Having read the flood of reports about sexual misconduct in Parliament, in the film industry, at the BBC, and in workplaces generally, I thank my lucky stars I've never been immersed in any group of men who are devoted to the masculine sex culture and all it involves. If I had been, I would probably have picked up some of the disgusting attitudes they display.

I've never seen women as sex objects, as toys for male pleasure, as a nice pair of tits, as a nice bit of skirt, as attractive bodies to be groped and fondled, as tempting pussy and all the rest of it. I find all that deeply repulsive.

My life has been strangely devoid of all that masculine depravity. I guess most men have been thrown into that sort of misogynistic culture at some time or another, but I've managed to escape it.

My public school was remarkably sex-free. There was no discussion whatever of sex, never mind sexual attitudes to women. There was no homosexuality and no furtively circulated porn magazines. My fellow pupils were far more interested in rock music than levels of libido.

In my workplaces likewise there has always been a noticeable absence of the sex-object culture. Men like that were pretty rare in the bookshops, charities and local newspapers I've worked for. And the women I worked with were always tough characters who wouldn't tolerate a lascivious male for long.

I've never been keen on pubs or heavy drinking, so I've never encountered those pub-frequenting men who enjoy sizing up the female customers and speculating on what they'd be like in bed.

So I've managed to dodge the whole phallocentric sickness. I'm miraculously uncorrupted.