If I was to be asked whether I thought that Americans or the British were the most prudish, it’d be a tough call but I’d probably plump for my new fellow countrymen. Don’t get me wrong, the British sense of reserve and alleged innate poshness is known the world over, and not without reason. After all, this is a country in which “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” was banned until 1960 (thirty two years after it was first published) and in which the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend The Night Together” was banned by the BBC for promoting promiscuity.
But when it comes down to it, the American sense of reserve and propriety leaves the UK trailing in its wake. No doubt the power of the Midwest has something to do with it, but sometimes it seems that if anything could be deemed even slightly controversial or risqué then America clamps down on it. For example, you can’t buy any form of codeine over the counter in the United States, and gas-and-air for women giving birth is also ruled out – clearly over here, pain is something to be endured in order to make you stronger.
The Special One and I have been watching “Life On Mars” on DVD over the last few nights, given that the programme was never shown over here. One of the episodes saw Sam Tyler being slipped a Mickey Finn and, erm, ‘placed in a compromising situation’ by a lithe naked lapdancer employed by a local hoodlum. The Special One was visibly shocked that British TV could get away with nudity on a primetime show, with an extra undone button being the closest the American networks get to such fleshy frivolity.
So given that Americans believe in being prim and proper, why the hell is it that you can’t get any privacy in toilets? I’m not talking urinals here – in fact the USA is pretty good for putting one of those tiny little wall things inbetween each urinal to make sure that no man inadvertently catches sight of his neighbour’s meat and two veg. But toilet cubicles, or stalls as I believe we’re supposed to call them around here, well that’s a different thing.
When it comes down to it, there’s no privacy in American toilets. The door finishes about a foot from the floor, while the top of the door generally stops at about 5ft. There’s generally a fairly sizeable gap between the door and the frame, meaning that in the seconds before somebody realises the cubicle is being used, they get a momentary image of the occupant sat with their pants around their ankles. The lock, obviously, is flimsier than an OJ Simpson defence case, and many of them don’t even work anyway.
All in all, it’s enough to make a man’s inner workings seize up until the moment they get home. And even then there’s always the ever-present danger of marauding kids to deal with. If I can offer you any investment tips at this point, it would be to consider buying into laxative stocks*.
* That sound you hear is my entire American audience (OK, my wife and our two cats) closing the door behind them as they leave this website in disgust. See, I told you they were prim and proper.