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Humiliation at hospital over toilets.

Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY

MY silver-haired mother was shocked during a recent hospital appointment to discover that both men and women were expected to use the same, single toilet.

As part of NHS cutbacks, they've scrapped 'gents' and 'ladies', presumably. If they've hit the bogs, thing must be bad. They've probably ditched anaesthetic and now show people re-runs of Last Of The Summer Wine before they go under the surgeon's knife.

Mum made her disgust known loudly to me as we sat in the crowded waiting room, brushing aside my embarrassed attempts to switch the subject to something a little more 'audience-friendly', such as the uncomfortable chairs.

At one point, when the unease brought bullets of sweat to my brow, I blurted: "Isn't the way they've used lino interesting?"

The pensioner would have none of it, declaring she wouldn't use the toilet because 'men never put the seat down'.

"Actually," interrupted a dapper middle-aged gent in the row behind, "I always put the seat down."

Not since my mother got the photo album out to show girlfriends pictures of me on the potty have I been so embarrassed.

"Well you're the only one," she shouted, craning her neck to address the fellow patient. "When our Michael lived with us, I had to tell him at least three times every day, but he..."

"I don't think..." I hissed, eyes-narrowed, "that this gentleman - or anyone else in the waiting room for that matter - is interested in knowing whether I put the toilet seat up or down."

I then stormed into the uni-sex toilet, slamming the door behind me in a fit of pique.

After five minutes I'd calmed sufficiently to re-emerge from the smallest room, met by the expectant stares of an army of waiting patients. "It's bloody down, OK!" I bellowed.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 11, 2008
Words:299
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