Narrow escape from hand dryer and killer toilet

Graeme 'Yer Man' Cousins
Graeme 'Yer Man' Cousins

I made two disturbing discoveries when using the toilets at one of Northern Ireland’s premier sporting venues on Sunday.

To allay any fears that this week’s column is about to put you off your breakfast, lunch or dinner, the discoveries I made were of a technical and not biological nature.

It happened at Queen’s University’s sports complex at Malone when I answered nature’s call just before my usual Sunday game of football. I tend to evacuate any stowaways prior to sporting excursions but I was caught short and had to venture into the bowels of the state-of-the-art building which regularly plays host to Ulster’s Rugby players and Northern Ireland’s footballers.

It’s an amazing facility which boasts artificial pitches as far as the eye can see with flashy additions such as floodlights, scoreboards, dug-outs and most importantly 20 foot high fencing to stop the wayward shots of overenthusiastic amateurs in replica jerseys like myself. Inside the labyrinth of sporting excellence, hidden at the back of a maze of corridors, polished glass and motivational posters was the WC I sought.

My first visit to the rest rooms enhanced my experience of Queen’s Sports’ showpiece building yet further. That is until I entered the toilet cubicle.

Don’t get me wrong, it was perfectly clean and I’d go as far as suggesting you could eat your dinner off the toilet seat, though why you’d want to is another question.

No, what disturbed me was a sign in the cubicle, above the toilet. It read, ‘Toilet seat is loose. Please take care when in use.’

I can confirm the sign was correct and some care was indeed required due to the wobbly nature of the seat.

As I sat on the loo what began to annoy me was that someone had felt it necessary to erect this sign. Granted, the aim was to warn patrons like myself about a potential hazard, but why not fix it instead of putting up a sign which then shifts the blame onto the user should they injure themselves by falling off the toilet.

Despite the friendly tone of the sign and its pretty rhyming couplet, it was nothing more than a disclaimer for those maimed by the broken loo.

Upon leaving the toilet and washing my hands I was faced with the second discovery which caused me to become hot and bothered.

As human beings our instinct should be to shy away from things that threaten to remove our extremities. Instead, when it comes to high-powered hand dryers, we shove our hands under them and through them whilst revelling at their power.

With a set of wet hands and no other hand drying options on the table I was forced to give the tornado-force hand blaster at Queen’s a try.

I watched in horror as the jet of air changed the shape of my hands, causing contours in the opposite direction of my previous contours. Why was there no warning sign as there had been above the killer toilet?

‘This machine is unnecessarily severe. Your hands may not return to their original shape.’

Using Google Maps I exited the building and made my way to the pitch to join my fellow replica jersey-wearing amateurs.

At least health and safety can’t ruin the beautiful game I thought to myself, just before I heard a coach tell a bunch of kids they weren’t allowed to do slide tackles or kick the ball above head height.