Thursday, 17 November 2011

A loo too far

I promised I'd never lower myself to blogging about the state of Italian toilets but I'm afraid I've lowered myself over one too many holes in the ground to hold back any longer. And that's part of the problem: being pregnant means that (a) I always need to pee and (b) I CAN'T hold back. Take note: a hole in the ground with two handily marked foot prints is absolutely not more hygenic and, as evidence strongly suggests, is not easier to clean either. Basta. Nobody wants their nose that close to the ground while they're having a wee. If you're a man and you're not bothered, then well done - but watch out, you're bound to be caught out needing a number 2 sooner or later.

When there is an actual toilet, there is inevitably no sign of the toilet seat. Even here we are forced to hovering. If you have the thighs of Usain Bolt then again, well done. If not, then you get that quivering leg quake which leads to you either leaping up and not finishing your business, or crashing down on a toilet bowl liberally sprayed with urine. What's wrong with toilet seats? I salute the humble toilet seat. Italian rubbish dumps must be full of mournful stacks of brand new, never-sat-on toilet seats. Btw, for a nation that would rather give up the Pope than relinquish their blessed bidets, Italians have some fairly filthy bathroom habits. Of course nobody admits to being the one who peed all over the toilet and the floor and who scattered loo roll here and there like confetti (and I'm talking about the Ladies here). But then, nobody admits to voting for Berlusconi either.

My ever-wise (and English) mother-in-law put the situation in perspective the other day. I was bemoaning the fact that the only public toilets in Italy with baby changing tables are in out-of-town Ikea. What do Italian mothers do? My conclusion is they don't leave the house until their child is potty trained (around 8 years old here, about the same time they move out of their parents' bed) (sorry, I'm getting catty now..). Mother-in-law nodded patiently and told me that when she moved to Milan 40-odd years ago, you were hard pushed to find ANY public toilets and when you found one it was always a hole in the ground. Crikey.

I'm not saying other countries are better because they have public toilets with locks on the doors, reams of loo roll, hot running water to wash your hands and baby changing facilities (God bless John Lewis in Southampton, they even have a room for feeding infants and baby bottle warmers). I also know that there are much uglier problems in the world, but pretty soon my tummy will be so big that once I've lowered myself over a hole in the ground, I won't be able to get back up again. It happened towards the end of my last pregnancy in a bar in Florence. Took me ages to get out of that bathroom and I'd only popped out to go to the supermarket.

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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Trouble in paradise

It must be so easy being a man. Why should I be a little nervous of taking my quote unquote 'spirited' toddler on a 2 hour train ride to Florence on my own while 4 months pregnant? Nothing easier. Anyone who's travelled on public transport with a small child knows exactly what an enormous pleasure it is. I simply dream of spending time with Isabel in confined spaces. Of course, I won't actually be alone: as well as a train full of people watching me, I'll also have the pushchair and a nice full rucksack for company. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. Can you tell that G and I have had a row? Steam is literally coming out of my ears right now. It's going to take at least 15 cups of tea before I can even think about calming down and the very worst thing is that the bloody washing machine is on so I can't boil the kettle because the f!$#ing electrics in this f%*!ing country can't take more than one appliance at a time. Double, triple and quadruple grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

My actual telephone conversation with G this morning went something like this:
G: 'So, what, you're never going to travel ever again? You're just going to stay in the house now forever? What about when the second one is born? That's it?'
Me: 'No, I just don't feel up to it RIGHT NOW - I'm finding some things more difficult now than I used to, it's just because I'm pregnant and because Isabel is getting really lively.'
G: 'Come on, a couple of hours on the train, it's no more difficult than taking her to the supermarket!'
Excuse me?
Me: 'Well, actually, you've never travelled alone with her so what do you know? I've taken her on trains and planes and it's ALWAYS really tough!'
G: 'I'd love to travel with her more but someone has to WORK you know.'
EXCUSE ME? Talk about below the belt.

So anyway, apparently everything is just easier if you're a man. Except of course managing to pee inside the toilet, pressing the 'on' button on the dishwasher and having a basic understanding of your wife.

In the end, and against my better judgement, I am indeed going to Florence tomorrow with Isabel on the train - God help me (and the other passengers). I believe that the journey will be less torturous than spending the weekend in Milan with a super-grumpy G moaning about all the things we could be doing if only I'd come down to join him in Florence. Wish me luck.

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