"You really can’t go back ‘home’ again and expect it to be the same as it was two decades ago." | Reuters


I once joked in a column in this newspaper that there are basically three things that you can’t do in life. You can’t beat a Spanish utility company, you can’t make a waiter see you until he’s ready to see you, and you really can’t go back ‘home’ again and expect it to be the same as it was two decades ago.

For the past week or so, I’ve been quietly, even gamely, reassessing point number three. You see, as I wander about middle England, returning home for an extended holiday has become an unsettling business, a little like waking from a long coma. You quickly discover that time has wrought changes that make you feel mildly foolish and out of touch.

For instance, you proffer hopelessly inadequate sums of money when making small purchases and spend much of your time saying - “How bloody much?” in a pathetic attempt at fiscal outrage. For instance, I went out for a pub lunch last Tuesday and ordered a modest glass of white wine along with a sandwich.

The young chap behind the bar then proceeded to announce a litany of six different types of wine along with - if I should want a small, medium, large, or extra large glass from which to drink it. My choice of sandwich was exotic to say the least; as in - something called lamb tzatziki-on-pitta or broccoli radish & sunflower seeds - Oh yummy!

Whatever happened to cheese and onion sarnies along with ham, spam, jam and whatnot? Nobody knows, and I suspect that nobody really cares as food like almost everything in the UK nowadays is in the clutches of what’s in-or-out of fashion at the moment.

If I were to be asked (go on ask me!)what random thoughts enter my head in terms of my stay so far; I would have to describe a number of rather embarrassing issues. First of all I would have to say - When did everyone get so fat? And further to that - a person should really have to think long and hard before he or she covers themselves in tattoos, or perhaps be made to apply for a special licence.

Another niggle is the fact that anyone who serves you in a bar, restaurant, pub or petrol station, always answers my well mannered ‘Thank you’ with an elaborate “That’s no problem at all.” Yes, I bloody well know that it’s ‘no-problem,’ because I’ve only asked them for a Mars bar or a bottle of water, not for them to climb Mount Everest in their underpants. Then there is the business of the way that people say ‘thank you’ nowadays.

It seems that the appropriate articulation of this polite phrase is along the lines of “Thang yeeeeewww.” Is all this just me I wonder?

Hubble-bubble toilet trouble!

The last time I checked, I believe that I can be described as a heterosexual man of middle years who is secure enough in his own sexuality to be pretty relaxed about other folks way of doing that sort of stuff, as long as they don’t go banging on endlessly about it.

Enough already! Then there is the undoubted fact that being a tad old fashioned, yet mostly liberal in my opinions in this area, I would prefer it if people made a decision on their gender or sexuality when they are old enough to decide, and then, with few exceptions - just get on with it.

Hey, I don’t know, but I would imagine a persons gender is a matter of fact, not a rather fashionable changeable option, given over to occasional tweaking rather like buying a new summer outfit. To make things worse, there is that whole business regarding the growth of gender neutral toilets similar to the one I spied in a visit uptown just yesterday.

I wonder if the people demanding this move to lavatorial liberation have ever been inside a gents public bog and taken a deep breath? No, I thought not! Personally, I can barely ‘go’ when I’m the only one watching, let alone if there were a gaggle of women gossiping as I were to attempt number ones, let alone number twos.

Plus, there is the undoubted fact that women use toilets as a centre for occasional social inter-reaction unlike blokes. Indeed, when was the last time you were out in a gastro pub in mixed company and all the chaps disappeared to the toilets together for a chat; It just doesn’t happen does it? In fact, if anyone should attempt to follow you into the loo and they are not of your gender, they should be given very short-shrift indeed and rightly so.

Joking aside - it will always be women who will be menaced in so-called gender-fluid toilets, so lets kick this stupid idea immediately into touch shall we? As I am on the subject of public loos, why is it seen as a necessity never to use the words ‘Ladies’ or ‘Gents’ to accurately describe the gender specific facility you wish to use?

Call me old fashioned, but does anyone out there know if a teddy bear - top hat, or bicycle, designate a male or female lavatorial facility! Alas, a certain person had to explain to me just yesterday that the bicycle featured on the door of a bog in a shop we were visiting, did not have a crossbar - thus, only a fool would not understand that it was in fact a ladies loo. Oops, silly me!