Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Mad Dog and the Englishwoman: A Concept Revisited

I have just discovered that the 100th novel written about Doctor Who, my most favouritist televisual delight, bears a title in happy alignment with this blog. Not so sure what to make of the terrifying poodle, mind you.

This discovery facilitates a neat sidestep to an issue I have only just discovered to be an issue: this blog’s title. Apparently, if my editor is to be believed (and he usually is), a “mad dog” in American slang is someone unlikely to be invited into polite society. Which is most definitely not where I was going when I named this blog.

It also casts certain aspersions upon my poor husband, who, after our dog refused to properly take up the mantle and thanks to the photograph I chose to illustrate the sidebar, has by default taken on the role of the mad dog to my Englishwoman.

I was actually referring to a line from a Noel Coward poem, which reads: “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”. The poem satirises the unwillingness of the English to adopt the customs of the locals when abroad. More specifically, to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day when visiting the tropical climes of the colonies, back in the days of the British Empire. A bad idea when your bodily systems are adapted to drizzle and two-week summers.

As you might guess, I picked it to highlight my own ineptitude when it comes to learning new tricks. This is something I believe I prove with every step along my American journey, particularly when confronted by peanut butter. Although I suppose it remains open to interpretation whether this makes Hubby the type of mad dog Coward was referring to, or the type my editor disapproves of.

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun
The Japanese don’t care to, the Chinese wouldn’t dare to
Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one
But Englishmen 
Detest a
Siesta.
– Noel Coward, Mad Dogs and Englishmen

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Sneaky Peeking

What is this, please, and why is it there? What it appears to be, and what it functions as, is an unnecessary gap in a public bathroom door. What it’s doing there is the mystery to me.

Gap in the toilet door

I’ve noticed these gaps turning up with alarming regularity in the restrooms of stores, eating places, airports and malls, but I am assured it does not occur in the boys’ equivalent. Which leaves me with several questions, outlined here in ascending order of importance:

1) Is it there to encourage a breeze to circulate? If so, is that a good idea in a public toilet?

2) Is it supposed to provide a view in case we get bored? If so, wouldn’t a nice painting or a puzzle book suffice?

3) Is this perhaps a method to keep women abreast of the length of the queue waiting to relieve itself?

4) Am I missing out on some sort of social phenomenon whereby women are meant to wave at one another on the way for a wee? Have I spent two years being unwittingly rude to my fellow bathroom-goers?

5) Alternatively, is it considered proper etiquette to avert your gaze as you pass each stall? If so, why is there opportunity to see inside in the first place?

6) What is the etiquette once you are ensconced in a stall? Should I be making eye contact with the people wandering by?

7) Most importantly, why just the women’s restrooms? Are we considered a liability to ourselves on the toilet, necessitating viewing holes to make sure we haven’t fallen in?

Perhaps Englishwomen are more shy when it comes to bathroom activities than our transatlantic cousins, or perhaps there’s a rogue builder out there who can’t measure his doors properly. Either way, I have taken to installing an optimistic yet ineffective privacy device to preserve my modesty until someone explains to me why that gap is there and what I’m to do with it: