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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

It really isn't fair

Women - doomed to discomfort for ever

Philosophy was big at this year's Hay Festival - in conflict with physics, describing consciousness, substituting for God. But the REALLY BIG question went unanswered at the public loos.

Feeling the need I called in at the Gents and was relieved within a minute. Communal troughs ensured the Gents could handle fifteen men at a time.

Things were different at the Ladies. Similar size cabins  accommodated six derrières and the queue numbered twenty.

I hate the world's casual discrimination against women. So how many ladies' loos would be necessary to ensure the same in-and-out comfort as men routinely expect. I did the arithmetic, checked it with a physicist of my acquaintance. Allowing 4 min. for women (vs. 1 min. for men), the answer is a whopping factor of ten. In other words, ten times as many Ladies as Gents.

Ladies! it's never going to happen. You will always queue and suffer.

Bad news for the Right

Eric Hobsbawm, who died recently in his nineties, was an internationally respected British historian who often spoke at Hay. He was also an unreconstructed Marxist. That didn't matter when The Guardian sponsored Hay since the newspaper has always been soft on left-leaning causes. But now the sponsor is The Daily Telegraph, right-wing voice of the Home Counties. This year the EH memorial lecture rang with shouts of revolution. Time for Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells to open his bottle of green ink.

On the other hand, jowly Gavin Hewitt, now the BBC News' Europe editor - subject of one of my earlier sonnets on Works Well - proved to be brisk, full of facts on Euro-economic Disaster, and, on the whole, presentable. Hay is many mansions.


  1. I rather gather, from your physicist friend, that on average ladies need to attend the loo 2.5 times as often as gentlemen. What an amazing area of physics in which to be interested.

    Who funded his research I wonder?

  2. I tried to see if I could come to same result as you but was not able to follow the logic. It felt like apples vs oranges. No wonder, I was doing math but this is physics.
    I trust Tom and hope he is right.
    And, who the schnuck cares!

  3. Tom: Not true. A woman's visit to the loo lasts 2½ times longer than a man's. And it was I who came up with the arithmetic, he merely checked it independently of its emotive content.

    Ellena: Who doesn't care that woman aren't provided with sufficient outdoor loos? Well I care, for one.

    It may have felt like apples vs. oranges but in fact all I was comparing was time - and that was apples vs. apples.

    Your problem may have been a failure to understand the initial proposition. Here it is expressed in a different way: at the Hay festival women were unable to go straight to the loo without waiting. They were required to queue in discomfort. Men, however, were able to go straight into their loos without waiting. How many extra woman's loos would have been necessary to ensure women didn't have to wait? This is not physics. but simple arithmetic (not even mathematics). However it does require an understanding of the lowest common denominator.

    In arithmetic it's better not to depend on hope.

  4. Sorry Robbie, you said in your post, "Allowing 4 min. for women (vs. 1 min. for men)". How does that translate into women needing 2.5 times as long as men?

    Oh what the hell! As Ellena said, "Who the schnuck cares?"

  5. occasional speeder29 May 2013 at 10:33

    i take a sheewee too festivals.... can be unerving standing in urinals though....

  6. Tom: You're right, of course. I carelessly picked up your 2½ times without thinking, imagining you'd simply misunderstood the parameters of the comparison. In fact woman take four times as long (a guesstimate which varies according to different conditions and requirements).

    But please, please do not try to excuse my error. Numbers are the only thing worth caring about since they have the potential (sadly ignored in my case) to offer exactitude. I care, very much.

  7. You could have suggested we wear diapers when leaving the house. Point final.

  8. And it's not like we can just do it any old where like you can, either, at least if you're French anyway.

    I thought perhaps four minutes was a bit excessive, two and a half is probably more like it, depending, as you say on a number of variables.

    Of course if one is in the comfort of one's own home it can be as long as one likes, thus giving time to take in several pages of the Penguin mini of Eric Hobsbawm's account of the French Revolution, for example, which came in my Christmas card from Joe and also fits nicely on top of the loo roll holder.(Just to show you someone took some note of your second item.)

  9. Always annoying to have to watch the beer intake ...

  10. Ellena: When it somes to pissotières I'm not sure you and I are on the same wavelength. Nevertheless I suggest we both continue to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

    Lucy: Ah, how poignant! You read the second piece. Nobody ever does that. A case of hands across the Channel. What's more you managed to score a left and a right (shot-gun shooting term) by simultaneously paying Joe exactly the sort of compliment he would appreciate.

    Yes, 4 min. was probably excessive. But after all that queueing I imagined a little non-functional rest wouldn't come amiss.

    RW (zS): Let me offer this as slight comfort. With men, beer intake and visits to the pissotière conform to an inverse arithmetical progression which, I fear, is unenviable. On my visits to The Trafalgar, the best pub in Britain, on the river near Greenwich, my friend and I each consume five pints stretched over several hours. The first goes down in seven minutes, the second closer to half an hour. Throughout, the chat is ceaseless. Halfway through the third pint (ie, after a further 60 min) one of us "feels the need", gets up and goes, and the other follows. So, first visit after 1 hr 37 min. Amazingly the second visit occurs in half that time (48½ min) and the third in half that (24¼ min). By now the ceaseless talk has become a noisy babble and these breaks are bitterly resented. Keep an eye open and you'll be able to confirm this undesirable chain reaction.