A sign of confusion
Finding public toilets in Bath is only half the battle. At the Podium the other day, I joined a befuddled group hovering outside two doors, uncertain which was the gents.
It was down to their mysterious symbols – one resembled a fir tree, the other an upturned V-sign.
Initially, I wondered if the plastic had been vandalised, perhaps by a local shopper angered by the Waitrose takeover.
After all, if the tree was meant to be an elaborately cloaked woman, where was the head? And if the V-sign was supposed to be male legs, why no torso?
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Close inspection gave no evidence of snapping off, so I was left with the startling conclusion that the signs are designed to look like this.
Frankly, no woman I know would take kindly to being compared to a headless individual resembling a dumpy Christmas tree.
Meanwhile, the male legs focus might confirm a female friend's opinion that men have very little going on above the waist.
Also, if the V-sign is trousers, obviously many females wear them these days – more than fir tree cloaks, that's for sure.
These signs should feature in the Daft Symbols of the Year awards. They excel at causing confusion and being up their own arty posterior.
Sadly, symbols often fail. Despite good intentions, only laundry nerds understand the washing instructions on clothing labels.
And almost every new appliance comes with labels or leaflets adorned with symbols that most people ignore or don't comprehend.
For sheer offensiveness, the road sign depicting an elderly stooping couple with sticks takes the biscuit.
Outside the Podium toilets, I began to yearn for cliched top hat drawings or women in long dresses as if in a Renoir painting.
Even cringingly awful pub landlord attempts at humour such as bras and Y-fronts on toilet doors have clarity.
But, overall, I'd bring back words.
True, some women's libbers aren't keen on the term ladies, as Marilyn French noted in her famous 1977 novel, The Women's Room, so I suggest signs saying men and women. Simple, isn't it?