Tiddles

I tend to cross my legs and think of England rather than use public conveniences. But I do feel sorry for day trippers to Bath and others who can’t nip back to their hotel, or in my case my highly convenient city pad.

Apart from the lack of choice, the result of the latest penny pinching closure policy, the loos on offer in our world renowned city are pretty disgraceful. I had the misfortune of having to visit the one in the Podium recently. Clean enough, sure, but well past its sell-by date and far too small for its position at the centre of a major tourist area. Missing light bulbs and damaged doors only added to the dreariness. Plus the floor was so wet I couldn’t put my shopping down, making what should have been a simple operation something only a circus contortionist could complete with grace!

There are decent loos in the Guildhall and some rather grand ones in the Pump Room, but these are hidden from the hoi polloi. When they can find them, mere mortals have to make do with substandard comfort stations which hardly give a good impression to our millions of visitors.

Other places seem to manage. Newbury provides gleaming modern facilities with piped classical music. Salisbury’s car park sports a veritable palace of convenience complete with tourist information, maps, magazines and charming staff. I could hardly tear myself away, even with the prospect of viewing the glorious cathedral in mind.

Bring back Bog Island I say, with its shining tiles, copious cubicles, and air heavy with the scent of Harpic. Why, one could even have a soak in a roll-top bath, with copious hot water supplied from remote taps controlled from without by a jolly lady attendant.

And while on the subject of great bogs of the past, does anyone remember the giant cat that resided in regal splendour in a basket beneath the attendant’s desk in the ladies toilets at Paddington Station in the 1970’s? Appropriately named Tiddles, he weighed 32 pounds and was so famous that gentlemen (including me) were sometimes allowed in to say hello. I don’t think Tiddles would have put up with the deafening roar of today’s air blade hand driers. As for wet floors…

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