So, I ran into this problem a while back, and it has been becoming increasingly incovenient and problematic. Initially, I thought it was just an isolated incident, but I am beginning to realize that it is far more pervasive than I previously realized. Summary: when you use the toilet here, you are never sure if it is going to flush.
I haven't determined the cause of this phenomenon, but at random, you will discover that the toilet is just refusing to flush. This may be a result of fluctuating water pressure (hot and cold water has two different faucets because of differing water pressure, so I am guessing pressure may be an issue), or initially, I just thought the Ship Street 6 second floor toilet was temperamental, or disliked me personally. (This is all very Harry Potter, right? Don't worry, I have not been talking to the toilet in between her tears, and thankfully, there are no human-eating snakes....) But, after a recent experience in the psychology building (surely, the case for temperamental toilets is stronger here...) prompted a discussion with a friend who has run into this issue elsewhere, I realized that the issue was not a personal or geographic one.
Now, how big of a problem is this? Well, that depends on the situation. Let's be realistic; there are times when it is more problematic than others to have used a broken toilet. Borrowing from one of my "green" friends (who led very environmentally friendly projects at his university), one water saving tip--go forth and be green with it: "If it is yellow, let it mellow; if it is brown, flush it down." I feel comfortable sharing this with you because it was published in an article about my mate featured in the New York Times, so clearly, it is a classy sentiment. So, let's just suffice to say that there are times when the toilet doesn't flush and you can feel a sense of environmental responsibility and there are others when a sense of panic sets in.
I have searched for solutions to this problem: For starters, in the states I was handy; I could have just taken the back off of the toilet, jimmied with the chains and other apparatus and figured out the problem. Here, the back of the toilet is in the wall, so Handy Manny solutions are eliminated. Another possible solution is to do a trial flush in situations where a lack of flush might be more, eh, risky. The only problem with this is that it is unclear what causes the lack of flush, and you could very well be undermining your cause by using the last successful flush on a test run.
So, the outcome is that using the restroom seems much more adventurous here. Each time, you are rolling the dice, and with different stakes and risks. I find myself holding my breath each time I depress the flusher--no whammy, no whammy, no whammy (which is on the right...you will fumble around for a while in the dark looking for it on the left). When you win, it is exhilirating; when you lose, a poker face is your only solution.