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Pee in the Park

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Macca, Diana Ross, Stereophonics, Pearl Jam, Duran Duran – yes, the music festival season has begun. After two years of no festivals due to Covid, we're all in the mood for some fun in the sun, or the mud, a spot of musical nostalgia, and some relaxation with good friends.

But for those of us who live with paruresis it's not that easy. Mention festival toilets and anyone who has experienced them will either snigger, grimace or raise their eyes heavenwards. The lack of hygiene is predictable when the crowds are so big. But that's not the only problem for people with paruresis. It's also the queues, the often smaller than usual doors, and the tiny size of the cubicles.

But fear not. Three recent festival experiences have been unexpectedly positive for me.

All had attentive staff keeping an eye on hygiene issues, but not unduly watching people going in and out of the cubicles. None had huge queues. Short queues maybe, but there were more cubicles than numbers in the queue so there was little sense of waiting, keeping an eye on who was going in, and who was taking a long time. All had private cubicles, small, but private. Water was available outside for hand washing and hand sanitiser was also readily available. Admittedly all three of my visits took place in beautiful sunny weather – it might have been a different matter if it had been wet and muddy, and the general mood and experience might have been more trying.

However there are things you can do to increase your chances of keeping your paruresis at bay during the experience.

Two of the festivals I visited didn't have "Gents" and "Ladies". Instead they had "Urinals" and "Cubicles". Men were using both seemingly without embarrassment. The throughput of people was quick and no-one was taking notice of anyone.

Many people with paruresis are over-conscious of the sound they make in the toilet, but again fear not. The whole place was noisy so no-one could hear you. And frankly many people were slightly (or maybe more than slightly!) drunk, so we're not going to be taking any notice of you. They will be keen to pee, wash (hopefully!) and get back to the music. Your toilet habit will be of no interest to them.

Make sure you drink enough throughout the day. Many people with paruresis restrict their liquid intake, but if you restrict it excessively you will make it harder to pee when you do decide you need to go. And of course in this uncommon hot summer you could be risking serious dehydration too.

Be mindful of when you go to pee. If you decide to go as soon as a big group finish their set there will be lots of people rushing for the toilets. Try to wait for a bit until the big rush has settled down and people are heading for the bar rather than the toilets. No-one will be timing you. And if you do take a long time and your friends greet you with "we wondered where you'd got to!" you have the ideal excuse. "I got lost coming back and couldn't find you". Laugh with them, smile, and absolutely no-one will give it any significance. Enjoy! 

Annual Report 2021-2022
 

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Saturday, 13 August 2022

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