Ladies and gents! A change to loos.
Of the most unexpected issues arising from running a radio station during a pandemic, milk, loo roll and cake top the list.
If we don’t keep our eye on the ball, milk and loo rolls run short, but of cake we have too much.
In this ‘work from home’ era, we have complex equations to calculate before deciding what to buy when, based on which people will be in. I’m a serial tea drinker, for example – consuming one beverage an hour every hour on the hour, which makes my presence, always much discouraged by the team, heavy on milk.
There’s a male/female ratio to consider on loo roll - eight pieces of female lavatory paper, for want of a better phrase, for every single dual-ply used by the men.
You can see I’ve thought about this perhaps too much.
For reasons that I hope won’t be considered sexist, our much-beloved female members of the team haven’t been in much for the past year, thus saving us a small fortune in lavatory paper and disinfectant (what’s the point of cleaning when there’s no one to tell us off?).
It’s also meant the men have been able to use the ladies’ loo, and may I say what a pleasure it has been. I had no idea until the pandemic that the ladies’ facilities were so much superior, so we have taken the opportunity of bringing a little equality to future washroom provision.
A new non-discriminatory policy has been prepared, which I’ll disclose here exclusively, if you promise not to spoil the surprise.
Men will use the ladies’ on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays on weeks one and three each month. Ladies will use the men’s.
On week two and four, ladies will use the ladies’. Men will use the men’s.
In five-week months, men will use the ladies’ in the mornings and ladies in the afternoons.
On weekends, we sometimes have all-male or all-female staff. On Saturdays, if all men, the ladies will be a men’s, but if we have a mixed team, it will be a ladies’.
On Sundays, if we have a mixed team, it will be a men’s, and the men’s will be a ladies’.
I feel sure everyone will embrace these changes positively.
Actually we had an all-staff debate on a possible unisex cubicle policy well before the pandemic when females outnumbered males, but that went down so badly that I’ve felt it only safe to address the situation now the gender ratio has reversed and no one is in the building to launch an attack.
Which brings me to cake, of which we have a pandemic surfeit. This is because many kindly listeners provide us with copious quantities of home-baking.
Quite often the doorbell rings and someone announces: “A cake for Ashley Jeary [our afternoon presenter]” - a fair swap if ever there was one.
So I was saddened to read in the obituaries of a local newspaper before Christmas that one of our regulars, a masterful baker, had died.
She’d supplied us with colossal amounts of personalised confectionary for the best part of a decade and what she cost in fillings and stomach-ache she had more than made up for in love and attention.
We announced her passing in a touching on-air tribute.
So you can imagine the shock when this week when she rang the doorbell and presented us with another rather splendid cake.
“We’ve told everyone you’re dead,” I complained, shaking her a bit, in line with social distancing guidelines, just to make sure she was no apparition.
“Nope, but I have had covid,” she says. “That’s why I’ve not been baking.”
Naturally we’re pleased to see our cake dealer back on her feet, baking prodigiously and with a happy smile.
But now if you’ll excuse me for a moment, I have some loo roll to buy.