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Plop Me A Line - Why Toilet Phonecalls Are Not Okay

07/04/2015 22:59 BST | Updated 07/06/2015 10:59 BST

Allow me to share a recent experience. I was sitting minding my own business (literally) in a toilet cubicle at work. The next thing I knew, a phone started buzzing in the cubicle next to me.

What happened next violently shook the unspoken rules of toilet etiquette.

She answered it. But not only did she answer it; she had a fully fledged, serious conversation. About work stuff.

I sat in silence, afraid to move. Maybe she had no idea I was there. Maybe she thought she was faux pas-ing in private.

After all, here in Blighty matters of the bowel are kept to oneself. That's why there are segregated cubicles with ruddy great locks on the door and a haunting sense of shame if ever someone walks in on you with your trousers down.

But no. This woman kept going. She even flushed, making no attempt to disguise her location. She walked out, still talking, washed her hands (from what I could gauge from her gurny speech, the phone was sandwiched awkwardly between her ear and her shoulder) and made her exit, leaving me to incredulously question the world in which I am living.

The end of privacy?

Privacy is increasingly challenged these days. Social media broadcasts our lives. Brands demand our details at every given opportunity. You can't even buy a pint of milk anymore without someone asking for your email address and name of your first pet.

The loo has traditionally been one of the few places where we are untouchable. Those who've seen This Is 40 will remember Paul Rudd using the lavatory as a refuge from his family. Here, he employs a classic tactic. The toilet is an effective hideaway from the demands of everyday life. Any sane person should respect the age-old institution that when a latrine is in use, its occupant is unavailable.

Is this no longer the case? Have advances in technology broken down the boundary... are we now contactable mid-flow? With O2 and Sony now creating water-resistant handsets (because 15% of survey-takers admitted they'd dropped their phones in the toilet), it sadly looks like the future is heading in the same sewer-bound direction.

Come on, you mingers

I very much hope this is not the case. For a start, it's gross. Phone screens have now been shamed as one of the worst culprits for harbouring germs. In fact, researchers have discovered that the average mobile houses more germs than a toilet seat. No wonder. I doubt phone call taking offenders are washing their handsets afterwards.

Not only is it unhygienic, it's disrespectful. You wouldn't pull down your pants and take a crap if you were chatting to somebody in a café, so why do it when you're on the phone? Yet according to a survey commissioned by bathstore.com, although 70 per cent of people said the thought of someone calling them on the loo is disgusting, almost 40 per cent are guilty of doing just that.

Wtop.com reveals that one in five men admit to participating in conference calls with their trousers around their ankles - a deeply disturbing statistic that suggests none of us are safe from casually defecating Patrick Batemans barking commands from the porcelain throne.

Maybe I'm being a hypocrite. I admit, as someone who conforms to the 'girls use the toilet in groups' stereotype, I occasionally chat to a friend if they're in the cubicle next to me. So maybe the concept of having them on the other end of the phone is not something I should be freaking out about. I am guilty of Facebooking on the toilet and occasionally playing Angry Birds.

Still, toilet calls bother me. And thankfully I'm not alone.

'The bathroom isn't the place to hold a conversation and people should especially not be tempted to pick up the phone when they're at home,' says the wonderful William Hanson, Bathstore's etiquette expert. Now there's a man we should all be listening to.

But despite Hanson's sensible outlook, there are no official rules on this matter. Some people are going to belt away - undies earthwards - regardless of others' disdain. Some wouldn't consider it in their wildest dreams. At the end of the day, there are far worse things you can do in life than make a phone call on the crapper.

But in my opinion - when nature calls, consider yourself engaged.