Although I am currently working for an American-owned company, I was still a little bit surprised to see this on the door to the toilets recently.
This uninhibited embrace of the US vernacular confused me, as I had the firm understanding that the building remained a bastion of Britishness, an impression based on the following
lazy stereotypes watertight scientific evidence:
- In the shadow of the building, on the East side, people like to drink beer in a huge crowd outside a bar, at the merest suggestion of sunshine.
- For the last two weeks, these people have also been watching Wimbledon on a big screen temporarily erected there.
- Most of the offices inside the building work to the rhythms of an endless cycle of tea drinking.
- There is always fish and chips in the canteen on a Friday.
Given this conviction, and the fact that the day had been low on drama thus far, I wondered if some kind of Star Spangled Banner-related adventure might occur only when you walked through the door. The sign was a message, an invitation. Mostly, I hoped that if I went in, used the toilet and came out again, it would not be into the lair of the women's glossy magazine from whence I'd come, but some detail-perfect US office environs – with my wishlist scenarios being the newsroom in Broadcast News or Cagney and Lacey's professional base camp. Or that I would not exit through a door, but have to climb out of a filing cabinet, like Hong Kong Phooey. That is the power of the word janitor.
A few years ago, Ms S and I went to a Halloween party as dead Cagney and Lacey. It wasn't that we wished Christine and Mary-Beth ill – far from it. It was more that we were seeking some blonde/brunette duo to essay, and we needed a seasonally spooky twist.
I have blacked our eyes out, to protect Ms S's identity and my own, and also because I am proud of my laughably limited Photoshop skills.
You can see from this photo that while Ms S looks awesome, I have failed to achieve a truly convincing physical representation of Mary-Beth Lacy. It is almost as though tucking some cushions in your waistband just makes you look like yourself but with cushions tucked in your waistband, as opposed to a matronly and thick-set 46-year-old several sizes bigger than you. As it is, my puny Joneser The Softy shoulders and child hands are still much in evidence.
What you cannot see in this photo, though – not clearly anyway – are: 1) Our brilliant facsimile NYPD badges, designed by Ms S, and crafted from foam board and safety pins. 2) Our attention to detail with the fake blood, which was exemplary, in particular where it was coming out of our ears. This, as everyone knows, is TV shorthand for 'OK, this is really bad. You know how this is the last episode of the series? Well, come the next one, this much-loved character with blood coming out of their ears will not be in it.'
Anyway. Did I go through the door? Have I now returned from a dreamlike American adventure in which I was a stranger in a strange land? I did not. I have not. It was the men's toilets.