A teacher in America was shot by her own gun when she went to the loo, according to the BBC. But the BBC isn’t what it used to be when Val and John and Bill & Ben ruled the airwaves. Right at the end of the tabloid story the BBC says basically, everything you just read was bullshit. We made it up. Yes, there was a teacher. Yes, she had a gun and went to the loo, or as she was American, the bayathrum. Yes, the gun went off when she didn’t mean it to. But it didn’t shoot her. It shot the toilet bowl. That’s what put her in hospital.
If that sounds unlikely, believe. And I know, because I was that soldier. Well, if not that soldier, certainly another toilet bowl victim.
It was all a long time ago. I was living in London and had a job I hated and I’d been to some business exhibition down in Earls Court or somewhere. They were interchangeable. The only reason anyone went was because they had to and in those days they were full of free drinks. Maybe they still are.
Apart from alcohol one of the stalls had a Scalextrix track. If you don’t know it, it was plastic track with metal strips in that carried 12 volt current that worked electric racing cars, until they usually spun across the room on the corners because you’d been going too fast down the straight. Eeeh, we had proper toys in them days. Every male child was obliged by law to own a set, even though nobody really knew whether you pronounced the first X or not. The deal on the stall was simple. Win the race, win a bottle of champagne. With the cunning of the truly drunk I remembered the tortoise and the hare. Thinking that you’d lose more time retrieving the car and putting it back on the track if it spun off I just drove it sedately around the track. Which worked. Free champagne. Result. All I needed was someone negotiable to drink it with and there was one of those at home so I put the bottle in the big inside pocket of my covert coat and got the Tube.
Back then Finsbury Park overground had loos. It didn’t for a while after this episode, when the IRA blew it up. That stuff happened then, too. A friend walked past Liberty’s a few minutes before the windows blew out. I was close enough to hear the bang and see the smoke from somewhere in Fulham that was blown up. I thought the IRA blew up the loos anyway.
I was a bit tired. I was so tired I had to lean my head on the cool, welcoming wall tiles while I used the loo and without boasting or anything, they were quite a way away. I closed my eyes, because I was really, no I mean really tired. And the tiles were cool on my forehead even though I had to bend a bit to get my head on the wall and I wasn’t needing to find a bathroom really quite quickly anymore and I had free champagne and everything was really quite ok when the whole bathroom exploded.
There was a huge bang and I heard stuff pinging and ricochet off the walls just like on Saving Private Ryan and things hit me in the leg and my feet were wet with blood. Except when I opened my eyes I couldn’t see any blood and so far as I could make out the walls of the bathroom were still intact and there wasn’t any smoke and it wasn’t making any sense. Then I saw the champagne bottle in the stub of porcelain sticking out of the floor and suddenly it did. I didn’t mean for the bottle to fall out of my pocket and blow up the toilet bowl, but life is full of unintended things. Or it was then, anyway, but the bottle was intact so I went home and drank it.
Again according to the BBC another American professor shot himself in the foot when he was fiddling with his gun in his pocket while he was supposed to be talking to people. I had to flail desperately at my own trousers once when a Susy Lamplugh rape alarm went off in my pocket and I couldn’t turn it off while I was on the phone.
It was the ’80s. That’s what happened in offices. I’d been to a Lamplugh Trust event the night before and got one of the aerosol-powered alarms mainly because it was free but also because I liked stuff like that (wanna see my baton, baby?) and because I was a bit bored I was fiddling with the alarm in my pocket while I was talking to someone on the phone when it went off. Luckily it didn’t shoot a hole in my foot or explode a toilet bowl. That all came later. We all drank too much and had unprotected sex and bought flats we couldn’t afford with money we didn’t have for the price of a deposit on one now. It was brilliant. We had a BBC we could believe in, too. Mostly.