The irresistible attraction of the £9.99 portable loo!

The £9.99 portable loo!

The £9.99 portable loo! - Credit: Archant

So I was in the office eating my New Year salmon and cucumber sandwich – my penance for having eaten nothing but chocolate for lunch since December 26 – when someone who shall remain nameless showed me his small catalogue.

It was the sort of booklet that falls out of a television listings magazine or, perhaps, a tabloid newspaper and contains irresistible offers for people of a certain age.

“Have you seen this, Lynne?”

“This” was a “portable urinal.” And its marketing pitch? “Never be caught out again.” It had a special adaptor for women.

It was a kind thought. After all, I do find a sudden laughing, coughing or sneezing jag can put me in imminent danger.

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In fact, the last time I was in such peril was when I was reading a similar magazine which advertised a product for minor male incontinence. It was not the item but the accompanying picture that brought on the hazardous hilarity. It was a photograph of a man in trousers featuring a prominent damp patch. No, you’re right, it’s not funny... well, maybe just a bit.

The publication with the go-anywhere urinal carried no reviews of the product and so I went online to see if anyone had commented. By now, I felt I was getting in too deep.

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There were no reviews but after the description and price (£9.99, such a bargain) it went on to say: “You may also like...” and promptly showed me a lightweight foldaway commode, a portable bidet and a de-luxe commode. I’d always go for the de-luxe...

On Amazon, a similar item had been reviewed and one purchaser commented: “I bought this as a joke gift and it turned out to be a real boon for keeping in the car boot for emergencies.” A second, possibly tongue- in-cheek review stated: “I have recommended this device to the local Scouts and Masonic Lodge.”

From being initially sniffy, I began to warm to this thing. Several other reviewers said that having bought one for their elderly relative or for their friend, Lynne, they had subsequently acquired one of their own to keep in the car.

Later, I reviewed my own motives. Was I liking the idea of this because I’m hurtling towards my seventh decade (58 next month) and people my age are naturally drawn to this sort of appliance, or because it is genuinely useful. I have decided to wait and see what happens when I next encounter one of those easy-grip jar openers. Will I simply pass it by or will I need to pick it up and caress its attachments, imagining myself using it on a large jar of pickled onions?

In the meantime, my booklet tempts me with NASA thermal gloves and socks that were developed by the space agency to keep astronauts warm in deep space... which may even be a couple of degrees colder than my garage.

Then there is the “Tweeze facial hair remover” which offers: “The faster, safer way to remove unwanted hair.”

“What do you reckon to this?” I asked my husband.

“I want all of mine,” he responded immediately.

Or, I could turn my house into “a pest repellent force field,” with the help of the Riddex Pro. It emits a digital pulse which will get on the nerves of pests and send them racing next door. “It’s designed to chase roaches and rodents out of your house...”

If there were cockroaches and rodents in my house I’d call the council and then move.

Is 2013 to be the year when not only do I forsake any intention of getting fit by joining a gym or attending a pilates class but the year I also start purchasing stuff that amounts to a tacit admission of ageing – such as half-steps or waistband extenders, doughnut cushions or the ultimate mould-free bath mat? It might be.

I have checked my horoscope for the next 12 months (Aquarius on the cusp) and apart from the unspecified big change in my life that will happen in June or July, there’s not much excitement in prospect. Obviously I skipped the section that began “If you’re looking for love...” I’m not. And the paragraph that started: “If you’re thinking of changing career...” I’m not. This left me with nothing in particular except for the mysterious “big change” mid-year. The astrologer seems to think that after the initial shock I should adjust well and it could even make my life better.

So, what could it be? Is this the missing information: “In June or July, you will purchase a portable urinal and once you have worked out how to use the separate feminine adaptor you will find you are forever freed of your abiding fear of toilets at pop festivals.” V Festival here I come...

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