So there I was in the heart of the Lake District, parked up in a rain soddened car-park on the banks of the largest and most iconic freshwater lake in the country. The panoramic vista before me was a joy to behold, or at least it would have been had I cared to look at it, but due to the long drive I had just undertaken, nature was starting to call with an unforgiving vengeance. By the entrance to the car-park I had noticed a small utilitarian looking building constructed from Lakeland Slate, and anticipating the purpose of the aforementioned building I headed straight for it with due rapidity. There was a blue and white plaque by the door which featured what looked like a man – but you can never be too sure with these modern-day international signs that are designed with aliens in mind should they wish to land, so I entered cautiously. I stopped abruptly. There, gleaming brightly in the murky half-light of the entrance was a stainless steel barrier with a gate in it. And on the gates in twelve inch high bright red letters a sign that read “20p”. I dipped my hands into my pockets and rummaged. Nothing. I tried the gates, they wouldn’t move. I headed back to the car, cursing under my breath as I crossed the boggy grass with urgent haste. I rummaged through the car and managed to scrape together the grand sum of twenty pence, made up of a ten pence piece and two five pence pieces. With an air of attainment at my gathering of the required amount I hastened once more towards the Gentlemen’s ablutions. I pushed the ten pence piece into the slot at the side of the gates. There was a clunk as it dropped into the inner mechanisms of the barrier. Then I repeated the process with the first five pence piece followed by the second. Nothing. What!!! I hit the coin slot. Still nothing. I hit it again, harder. I thumped it. I kicked it. I swore at it. Nothing. I tried to force the gates, they wouldn’t budge. Aaarrrggghhh!!!.
I climbed over the gates; a bad mistake at my time of life. (Dear reader, at the time of writing this cautionary tale of lamentable woe, I am laid up in a hospital bed, under heavy sedation on the strongest painkillers imaginable.) Well, as they were only waist high, how hard can it be, I thought. After managing to place my knee on top of the barrier I hoisted my foot up onto the top of the gates and grabbed hold of the wall as best I could and then hefted my body upwards. I summited the stainless steel massif and then dropped onto the floor at the other side of the barrier. As I landed I felt a slight pang in my lower back but thought nothing of it as the elation of my achievement overrode all other emotions.
I walked across to the urinal and as I stood there playing “chase the matchstick” I heard a soft clunking sound followed by a faint whirring noise. I looked round, and as I did, as if by magic, the gates of the barrier began to slowly open. No-one came in and no-one left. Talk about adding insult to injury. It was as if the gates were sticking two fingers up at me. It was then, at that precise moment in time, that I felt a sudden jarring pain shoot through my lower back.
Some days I'm the dog, some days I'm the lamppost.