Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Public conveniences - again

Returning to the matter of public conveniences (as previously discussed here and anywhere else I can rant), one disappointment in Montreal was that the loo doors had the American style two inch gap at each side. My bete noire. Given that my hotel room had an electric kettle, (unknown in the States) hope led me to believe that there'd be a more civilized loo door. Indeed, I was getting positively giddy about the thought of a private pee. (I don't get out much.) I know Montreal has fought hard to retain its French identity but surely the modesty-protecting British door is a feature that should have been adopted, along with the electric kettle? Alas no.

(A note to Brits staying in US hotels - you will probably find tea bags in your little hotel room welcome tray, but only a wretched coffee maker. Never fear - what you do is, rinse out the coffee pot a few times, fill the receptacle thingy as normal with tap water, then run the coffee maker with no coffee bag or filter in. Voila - hot water in which you can then dunk your tea bag. If the water initially comes out looking a bit brown, just repeat the rinsing and you should get clear water next time.)

Getting back to restrooms, WCs, loos or whatever your nomenclature of choice is - I did happen upon those new Dyson hand dryers. Although he's all over the TV talking about them, they have yet to make an appearance in my neck of Chicago. But very effective they are too. Unlike your normal hand dryers which have you giving up and wiping your hands on your jeans as an irate and impatient line/queue forms behind you, the Dyson dryer could conceivably be used in building restoration work or even armed combat. They don't blow hot, limp air in the hope of "convecting" your hands dry, so much as blast the water off with the force of a space shuttle take-off. I suggest Sir James should consider adapting them for the Met Police or UN Forces to use as a crowd control method- swiftly rounding up those Chelsea fans or foreign "insurgents" into neat little groups, ready to be handcuffed, hog-tied or spirited away. (I'll just take a 10% commision there Sir J, thank you very much.)

I have to say though, that for those of us who are on the other side of thirty, it's a bit of a glimpse into the future to see the skin on the back of your hands wrinkle and move around so much under the pressure. A definite reminder to don the rubber gloves and moisurize daily.


  1. How many times have I done that in a hotel (here and in Norway), just to make a cuppa in the morning?! I even take my own teabags if I remember. Can't abide Liptons.

    Didn't know that Dyson had branched out into dryers. Will be looking closely at all I encounter in the future.

  2. Expatkat - it sounds like we will all know when we meet one from Toni's description here. Also been there, done that with the coffee maker :)

  3. You are putting me off coming with your 2 inch gaps in toilets & the coffee maker you are expected to make tea in!
    I have a little electrical contraption that fits into a cup of water & it then heats the water to boiling. You have to remember not to leave it as there is no thermostat.It just bubbles & makes a noise when it is boiling. Took it all over Europe. Quite heavy though.

  4. I'm right with you as far as 'stalls' are concerned. I always thought it was an odd name until I experienced them first hand from the inside - very apt.

    Just think I thought I was the only one with such troubles with the tea in the coffee maker debacle.

  5. Well you already know where I stand on 'mind the gap'....I think you & I could fill a few hours discussing loo's over a bottle of vino!

    LOL at the Dyson dryer, I will be looking out for one down this way! Obviously you don't own a Dyson or you've never stuck your hand down there when it's on. I had a feeling Sir James would have a TURBO FUelled dryer after getting up close with my Animal!

  6. You expats are a riot! Love the commentary on US life...we are odd...and we know it! Just found you...I'll be back!

  7. I can't believe that you have to have to suffer the indecency of a huge gap round the door when public loos are insufferable enough as they are surely!

    You must come and visit here - we are so much more civilised when it comes to tea makers - you call a man who can and he pops along with it all set out neatly on a tray - bloody marvellous!!

  8. Great tip on making tea, still struggling with the 2 inch gap, I think I could just about manage a pee but that would be the limit! xx

  9. Hi,
    love your blog - having spent some time in the US, I totally agree with observations...I'll be back :)

  10. Yeah I too have had my digits blown off by one of those fancy new dryers. What's wrong with paper towels? Say I, in a very old-lady kinda way.

  11. OK, third attempt to add a comment. ON my own blog too! Stupid thing keeps disappearing. Anyway:

    GBS - I agree with the paper towels. Even the normal hand dryers don't do the job unless you have 20 minutes to spare.

    Here, there etc - Welcome, and please do come back soon.

    Wind - too much information I think!

    M Chick - Can you send your man who can and I'll return my ball and chain who can't?

    OC Cottage - welcome, and yes, you are all odd! In a nice way.

    Sarah - No, having hardwood throughout (allergies) a Dyson seemed a tad extravagant. Swiffers for me I'm afraid.

    Maddy - aren't the 'stalls' where you sit in the theatre?

    Maggie - you've just reminded me that someone gave me one of those a few years ago. Can I find it though?

    Softie - there are a few poorer imitations out there I have to warn you.

    Kat - my local supermarket sometimes carries PG Tips, and even has Hob Nobs to go with them. Yum.

    Right now I must go and hand craft two giant posters. I have organized a sponsored walk to raise money for a school in Ghana which will take up all day tomorrow. Hope we raise some dosh.

  12. I could never ever drink the tea in a hotel, purely on the fact that I need milk with it and the thought of adding creamer to a cup of rosy is VILE.

    I haven't seen a Dyson dryer yet and don't suppose I will for a long time as the most sophisticated place I eat at these days is Subway.

    Hope you don't mind but linked to your blog.Happy (U.S) Mothers Day weekend!

  13. Btw you've been mentioned in The Telegraph article on blogging mothers today!! Neither of us got into the actual editorial, but there are a list of 12 blogs Tamsin Kelly recommends and WE"RE BOTH ON IT! Hooray hooray - get somebody to get you a copy, but you can check on line. Or I can send you a copy. x

  14. Ooh, fame at last. I was just telling my mother yesterday. I thought it was going to be in the Sunday edition, so I will have her buy a copy. Well done us. I'm glad that she was nice too; she was very nice when she phoned.

  15. Goodness, making tea in the States sounds remarkably complicated and hugely carbon-footprint enlarging. I think I'll just take a flask when I go and pray it stays hot until the other side of the Atlantic. As for those loo door, speaking as someone who has been the other side of thirty for some time, I can only ask, why? Surely not to let the average-sized American squeeze back through in the event of an emergency.

  16. LBDog - tee hee. The very thought! Actually, since they also usually have a foot gap at the bottom, it's great when your little one gets locked in. I have told my four year old on recent occasions, when he has demanded independence, to crawl under the door. On the other hand, when other people's toddlers are looking for mum, they tend to peer under every door and comment on the activities.

  17. Having ventured across The Pond a few times gave up the idea of tea unless staying with friends (who rather strangely have a fetish for PG Tips) always feel should do as teh romans do and all that (she says with stiff upper lip and suffering from a hangover) added reason for dropping in was to say saw you were in the Telegraph!!! Well done. If you need a pristine copy have one at home and can forward it if you need it to your Mum - staying with friends who are now all awake 'cos I squeaked a little too loud with excitment when I saw the article and demanded immediate use of the internet!

  18. If memory serves me correctly, there are dyson hand dryers in the ladies' bathrooms at water tower place on michigan avenue.

    yes, I have a memory for random things.


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