For reasons I have never adequately understood, my bladder knows when I am almost home.
It can stay dormant for hours if required, which is a useful trick, but then suddenly wakes up as my front door approaches. The reflex is entirely subliminal - I don't consciously think "ooh, I'm nearly back, thank god." But then something kicks in, like a switch being flicked or a curtain being drawn back, and I hurry to get home a little faster.
I'm surprised by the precision of it all. I can be out for the entire afternoon, or trapped on a long train ride somewhere, and nothing happens. But hit Bow Road, or walk across the pavement close to home, and a synapse fires. I switch from calm and contented to a feeling of mild foreboding, all in a matter of seconds. A nagging feeling emerges that perhaps it might be wise to reach my bathroom soon, and my pace quickens, just in case.
It's nothing medically embarrassing, you understand. I'm not talking about incontinence or anything like that, just the natural feeling you get as a hint that all's full. And it's not usually an issue, nothing more than a slight inconvenience. But occasionally it scales up somewhat as I reach for my key, and hypes up further on the long trek from communal to personal front door. The urgency continues to increase as I battle with the final lock and then... and then everything's alright again.
Sometimes I'm climbing the steps when the feeling first arrives, and that's OK. Sometimes it happens as my front door comes into sight, and that's probably fine. But other times it happens further back, and that's not so good. I might still have a road to cross, or half a mile of street to walk down, and that's nowhere near as comfortable.
Returning home after a visit to the pub is the worst, obviously, because on such occasions I could be filled with considerable excess liquid. I'll have been sensible and done the necessary before departing, and survived the entire tube journey back, but alighting in Bow can be the trigger for my bladder to twinge. Still several minutes from home, all I can do is practise the self-control I've gained over many years and speed up a little, perhaps a lot, as I wish perhaps I'd chosen to live a little closer to the station.
Things were far worse, interestingly, before I moved to London. I had to drive everywhere then, which meant keeping my car in a garage located a short walk from home. I'd drive up to the garage door, step out of my car to open it, and that's when my evil bladder would kick in. It recognised my homecoming without registering I was at the wrong door, but sent an irreversible message to my brain anyway. I still had to raise the garage door, negotiate the car inside without scraping it, then close the door and lock it down, and all this before I could cross the lawn to reach the safety of home. Sometimes I'd be jigging a merry dance before my parking shuffle was complete, occasionally even abandoning the car mid-manoeuvre and hoping no neighbours would drive home before I returned. I think I got away with it, just about, but it was a close shave once or twice.
I'm not complaining about my situation, it's not usually a problem. Indeed quite the opposite, I'm more than pleased by the length of time I can generally engage in self-control. But I don't understand how my bladder can be quite so good at noticing I'm almost home, even when I'm absolutely not thinking about it, then kicking in with a sense of urgency related to geographical proximity.