Festival groans and the
putrid chambers of doom

Romantic - Saddam Hussein

CLIVE SMITH: Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn about Valentine’s Day

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Ilove a festival, I love an event, but what I cannot stand are portable loos. They are the slow cookers of sewage and yet are provided at location after location for us to perform in.

Aside from gently steaming faeces, they have a lot in common with cinemas. You know my thoughts on those who dump all their litter on the floor in a cinema. Somehow, watching a movie excuses people from being responsible for their own detritus. In a similar way, in portable loos, people spray everywhere.

Let me be clear. This is not just a man problem. Women-only portable toilets suffer from sprinkles all over the seat and the surrounding plastic. It’s because we’re all so busy hovering to avoid others people’s pee we women do the same thing, and yet no one cleans it up.

You can argue that at least using a portable loo is a work-out. Who hasn’t had their thighs strengthened with an elongated squat above or discovered muscles they never knew they had when trying to maintain an equitable distance from the seat and stop various bits of clothing from dangling into the blue abyss?

It’s a fine art, almost as fraught with difficulty as not entering a cubicle just vacated by someone who looks as if they’ve had one burger too many from a dodgy stall. You can just tell, can’t you? If they’ve been in there a while why on earth would you want to follow them in?

The temporary toilets which come in a portable building on wheels are OK. It’s the in-built sense of stability that makes people behave with more care about their business. You wouldn’t, after all, pee all over a friend’s bathroom. Perhaps the mirrors and the flowers and the squirts of air freshener make people feel more responsible for their offerings. And also, one doesn’t get the sense the whole thing could be tipped over at any moment.

Yes, this is a gross topic, but it is one that needs addressing. Why is it, in this day and age, when we mould plastic into practically every application in the world, that we still think it’s all right to use sweat-box sewage systems?

There must, must, be a better way. If not, let’s admit that portable toilets have not improved our lives and go back to holes in the ground with a discreet box hedge planted around them.

Anything but the chamber of doom.