I know first impressions are important. I know that. And yet if there was such thing as the Society For The Advancement Of First Impressions, and they gave out awards, they would undoubtedly give me the wooden spoon. Actually, they wouldn’t. They’d probably kill me, wrap me up in a carpet and throw me in the foundations of a construction site, because if me and my first impressions ever were associated with them in any way, it would have a seriously deleterious effect on any first impressions people might make about them in the future. And I’d imagine those guys would probably care about that kind of thing a lot.
Take this for an example. Recently, engrossed in an article on my laptop, I was suddenly caught short. I was about to put it down and do my business, but then I had a brainwave. Why should I do that? I was only reading an article, after all. I’d take the Guardian into the toilet without a second thought. This was just the next logical step, the bright future of bathroom reading. I bet Gordon Brown takes his laptop into the toilet, if he’s reading over an important dossier or something. Bill Gates probably has web conference facilities built into all his bogs. I was about to join a select cadre of trailblazers, unafraid of the base accusations of lesser men.
A couple of minutes later, pants round my ankles, laptop warm on my bare knees, I decided that what I was doing was actually just a bit odd after all.
All finished, I shut my laptop and walked into the hall, and was shown with devastating clarity exactly how mistaken I was. I’d never met my flatmate’s dad – a businessman of the old school, and my landlord, with a stern face and a thin moustache – up until that moment. I looked at him. He looked at me. Then he looked down at my laptop. His face set into a weird little humourless smile: the smile I imagine he’d make if someone told him that they’d taken a dump on his rug. “You must be Mr. Wilson,” I said, weakly. “Mm,” he said, and walked out the door, that weird little smile still on his face.
He’s never come back to the flat. I can understand why, though: from what little he’s seen, he is the proprietor of a horrid little den of iniquity, full of strange men emerging from bathrooms where they’ve been doing unknowable, perverted things with laptops. I imagine him, sat in an oak-panelled office, alone with his head in his hands, thinking “Oh, God. What have I done? What have I done?”