My bladder capacity. Because it is, I have to admit, miserably inadequate to the demands I put on it. The fact is that I have the bladder retention of an incontinent five year old. On a long trip. In a small car. On a packed motorway. On a Bank Holiday. After drinking four litres of ice cold Tizer. Its not pleasant. For anyone.
Take last week, for instance. A simple trip to town. No big deal. Were not talking about an expedition to the Artic or anything like that. Pop into the bank to pay some bills, do a bit of browsing. Steady away. I got ready, picked up my mobile phone, wallet, car keys. The burglar alarm is beeping and I had my hand on the front door handle when Just one more before I go So Im back upstairs, to the toilet. Bearing in mind this is ten oclock and Id already been three times. And no, Im not a diabetic.
I finally get out of the front door, into the car. I get to the end of the road. Pause at the junction. Michael Head has barely launched into the opening verse of Undecided and the heater is still thinking about warming up when Bloody hell, I could do with a wee. Thinks. Considers. Sod it, Ill be all right until I get into Barnsley.’
By the time Id driven the four miles into the town centre I was frantic. Teeth chattering. Razor blades in my groin. Thumping the steering wheel, screaming at pedestrians to get out of the fucking way! Cursing the red traffic lights. The slow moving Fiat Punto on the Sheffield Road roundabout. Yeah, you, you stupid twat! Are you fucking pedalling that or what?! I couldnt cope. I was cold. I was desperate. Shivering. Mouth dripping with saliva. Shaking. Because I needed a PISS!
From Grahams Orchard car park BMBC, robbing twats I barged other shoppers aside and headed quickly for the rather attractive, Grade listed, underground lavs in Peel Square. All Victorian porcelain and finicky detailing. Obviously spot lit by the usual anti-smackhead blue lights. Up to the urinal, pants opened.
Bliss. Sheer, unadulterated relief. A huge smile on my face and the pleasant sensation of my teeth slotting back into my gums. I could breathe again. It was bloody great.
I was stood there having what I can only describe as a donkey piss. It was like a fire hose going full tilt at a raging inferno. This on a bowl of cornflakes and a glass of orange juice. Where the bloody hell had all this fluid come from? After what felt like five minutes I started to get concerned. After a further five I was seriously worried. I looked at the shallow gutter, the Century old copper piping. And I was still going for it. I saw a problem looming. If it keeps on like this the system wont be able to cope and Ill be ankle deep in my own piss and other peoples chewing gum and dog ends. Call for help. A doctor. Or maybe a plumber.
Finally finished, I stepped back up to ground level. A bound in my step. A song in my heart. And as I walked down Cheapside towards WH Smiths for the latest copies of Golf Punk and Marvel Legends, I was struck by a thought, prompted by a faint sensation deep within my groin. Hmmm, I murmured to myself, as I dodged the Big Issue seller by Marks & Spencer, Im ready for another wazz. Already. Now I know were in the middle of an incredibly cold winter, but Id barely walked fifty yards.
And this is how it is. My life is balanced on a see-saw that I can never keep level. Between hydration and the nearest toilet.
On nights out its even worse. Two pints of Guinness under my belt and Im in agony. And whats the worst thing you can do? Yield to it. After that I might as well just spend the night in the bogs. Because, as some borderline alcoholic whos out in town every night of the week (and the odd afternoon) and who last passed water the week before 9/11 will tell you: youve broken the seal. After that theres no turning back. Every drink I consume doubles in size by the time it hits my bladder thirty seconds later and has to be immediately got rid of. And as someone who got a C at GCSE chemistry will smugly inform you: Alcohols a diuretic. Is it really? Thanks for that, fucking Einstein.
Added to this theres the after burn. Do you know what I mean? That thimbleful of urine that lurks somewhere deep within your plumbing and that makes an appearance only after youve pulled your pants up. I always get it. Sometimes as Im washing my hands. Sometimes as I head to the door. More often than not its immediately after Ive zipped up. My shoulders drop, my head falls. Fucking hell! No matter how much shaking I do, no matter what artful twists and tugs I employ, it still fucking happens. And it feels like a bucketful in your undies. Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! The sensation in itself is bad enough, together with the embarrassing possibility of a stain going all the way through to your trousers, but whats worse is that Im always troubled by the thought that by mid-afternoon I stink of piss. Like the corridor of an old people’s home.
Maybe Tena Lady is the way forward. A few of them strapped together and plastered to my nether regions. Or big industrial nappies to pull on for work? Or catheterizing myself before nights out? Who knows? Theres a fortune in it if anyone comes up with a viable solution to the adult males constant battle with incontinence. I tell you something though, Im going to have to go. I need a wee.