Friday 19 July 2019

Rachel Dugan: 'The first step in quest for pee-quality?'

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French architects have designed “the world’s first industrially produced female urinal”. Stock image
French architects have designed “the world’s first industrially produced female urinal”. Stock image

Rachel Dugan

Female urinals, the holy grail of festival-goers or an exercise in futility? I ask because we're currently in peak festival season and a pair of French architects have designed "the world's first industrially produced female urinal".

The hot-pink units house three 'urinals' in a spiral formation that protects occupants' privacy. Though you do have to deploy the quad-testing 'festival squat': stand up and you can peer into your neighbour's stall.

The designers claim their urinal is 600pc more efficient than your bog-standard cubicle, taking just 30 seconds to use versus three minutes.

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While some have hailed the invention as the first step in the long battle for pee-quality, I'm not so sure. The urinal's creators failed to factor in the ability of around 50pc of the female population to turn spending a penny into a seriously time-costly exercise.

If you've ever visited one of the many Irish pubs run by mathematically challenged types who think three cubicles to a 200-strong crowd of beer-sinking revellers is the correct ratio, you'll understand the issue. You wait in line, thinking arid thoughts with your legs subtly crossed, as the queue moves at a pace that would make the M50 at rush hour seem positively brisk.

Then you notice that lots of women are entering cubicles and not emerging for at least five minutes, an eternity when you need to pee. What are they doing in there? Texting a friend about next week's rescheduled pilates class? Ruminating on the precarious state of world politics? Reapplying their make-up in the mirrorless box?

As two-time 2008 speed peeing All-Ireland champion, I'm part of the other 50pc who are usually among the first to lead the charge into the men's loo when the situation reaches crisis point.

But the one place I don't find this issue is at festivals - exactly where the new urinals are to be deployed.

Women file in and out of festival Portaloos with the speed and precision of a military parade. Could this change in MO be because festival loos are one of the most inhospitable environments for human life, a place where your very survival depends on being able to simultaneously deploy the festival squat and the Portaloo nose pinch?

So female urinals pose the biggest threat to the festival ecosystem since cardboard tents. Women might actually enjoy their urinal safe space, breathing in fresh air and nattering away with their neighbours. Some things really do work just fine the way they are.

Wimbledon camp-out is no match for virtual queue

Speaking of waiting, we've been asked this week by those in charge at tennis slam Wimbledon to believe that queueing is actually something people enjoy.

According to head honcho Richard Lewis, the infamous tented queue for tickets for the tennis tournament is something they "get great feedback on".

He was responding to fears that the queue, which lasts for days, could be replaced by technology.

And, believe it or not, those waiting in line seem to agree.

One Dutch tennis fan, who has been camping for nine days and joined a nearby gym for the month so she has somewhere to shower each morning (queuers can leave for 30 minutes and keep their place), told a British newspaper this week that "the atmosphere is really nice".

Another tennis nut was less enamoured with the grim realities of queueing, but still rallied against the digitisation of the system, insisting "the queue is special".

If some folk are happy to wait in line for days in this upmarket camp, let them.

But I am sure the majority of tennis fans would agree that it's game, set and match to the virtual queue.

Irish Independent

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