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First off, let me just say (and apologies if this is far more information than you were hoping for) but if I am in need of a loo whilst out and about, generally by the time I get to the stall there is an urgency to my needs that eliminates any kind of faffing about with hooks and bags. As a Crohn’s sufferer my focus is usually just: find bathroom now. The emphasis is on the now. If I need to go that badly, I do not care what the bathroom looks like. I’ve seen the inside of some hideous bathrooms in my day, but also some lovely ones: including one up in Scotland that won an award.

More often than not, my bag is somehow attached to me either across the chest or over my shoulders. And seeing as nine times out of ten, my bag also has a laptop in it, I would never consider putting it on a hook. Those things just have never looked sturdy enough for my liking. If my laptop were to fall and come to some great harm, I would never forgive myself. Some people have children, I have laptops.

What’s more is that generally my main concern in a public toilet facility is this: is there any toilet paper? Because that’s important. More important than hooks, to my mind. I mean, if I had to choose between putting my bag on the floor and having toilet paper, I would put my bag on the floor. It’s been worse places. Trust me.

Floor of an airplane – yep. Put my bag there, right next to my filthy shoes. Floor of a club, bar, pub, restaurant? Yep. Because putting it on the table would be gross (and also potentially dangerous if we’re drinking). Sometimes it can go on the chair, but better to have it on the floor, between my feet, lest someone snatch it from me. Once you’ve lived in London, you keep your bag with you at all times, in plain sight, and when you go to the loo, if you’re not taking your bag, you tell someone at your table to watch it because it basically contains your life: phone, keys, wallet.

Look, here’s the thing: the world is filthy. I get that. I make reasonable efforts to keep the gross bits of the filth at bay, but here’s where The Mom and I differ. Whilst she will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid putting her bag on the floor, the shoes she was wearing whilst in that toilet, and the ones she was wearing as she traipsed all over Australia, those are the same shoes she will wear in her own home. And they will  touch carpeting. The first thing I do when I get in the door of any house, any where, is take off my shoes. Shoes stay at the door. Which is also the place where bags go. that’s it. They do not breach the general living area. At The Mom’s house we have a room aptly named the mudroom: it’s for shoes and coats and bags and filthy dogs. It’s where we keep the dirt.

Except The Mom who will then track all of the filth through the house – all those germs ready to marinate – on the soles of her shoes. This will not pop up on her radar of things that are gross. When I mention this sort of thing to her, she’ll tell me I’m being overly dramatic. This from a woman doing interpretive dance in a toilet in the Outback.

The Mom’s description of her conundrum immediately begs a question from me: if her shopping bag is that large and unwieldy, why did she not just leave it with her companion? If he, too, had to use the facilities, could they not have just taken it in turns? One person watches the bags, the other person pees.

Part of me thinks all of this stems from The Mom’s years of looking after us as small children. I remember her carting around massive bags of stuff – to keep us clean, quiet and entertained – and even when we were past the point of needing diapers and a constant supply of food, she still had that same massive bag with her. You know you could ask her for just about anything, and chances were good she’d have it. Perhaps old habits die hard.

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