Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Capitally pissed off


Apparently, there are 'too few public toilets' in London, according to a report for the London Assembly.

While it's obviously difficult to find somewhere to go to the loo in central London, I'm not sure that there's a "quality of life crisis", as the report says. Sounds like someone's trying to make the report sound a good deal more dramatic and important (and less amusing) than it really is.

That someone might be Joanne McCartney, Chair of the London Assembly's Health and Public Services Committee:
"This is not just an issue of inconvenience. It is about people's dignity and quality of life.
Er, yeah. Well, I guess it's pretty undignified if you wet yourself in a bus shelter but, to be honest, in London that sort of behaviour goes pretty much unnoticed.

Just one public toilet for each one of the 28m people who visit London each year. Well, call me stupid (no, don't), but I'd have thought you only need one public toilet at a time. I don't stand in Piccadilly Circus thinking, oh, God, there are six public toilets I can use, which one am I going to pick? The one with the sensor-activated taps? The one with the softest toilet paper? The one with the poncy bloke in a uniform who brushes the lapels of your anorak and then expects a pound in return? The one... oh, never mind, too late now.

Anyway, for those of you still panicking with your legs crossed, here's Oscar's handy guide to where to go to the loo for free in central London (and these are just the ones I know about):

Piccadilly Circus Tube - utterly offensive, smelly, shabby, full of suspicious looking men avoiding your gaze (mind you, that goes for most men's toilets), but perfectly located
The National Gallery - in the basement. Adequately maintained. You can look at the art if you want, but it's simplest to turn right at the entrance, wander nonchalantly down the stairs and find (eventually) the loos. You won't even have to have your bag searched (THINKS: oh, dear, have I just given al-Qa'ida a tip?)
John Lewis, Oxford Street - men's toilets are on the second and third floors. Bit difficult to find among the Persian carpets and mahogany tallboys, but look above you and you'll see the signs.
Prêt à Manger, outside Leicester Square Tube - technically you have to buy something and ask for the code, just like at McDonald's, but hang around outside the door and someone's bound to come in or out and they can just hold the door open for you!
The Natural History Museum - only disadvantage is that there's often a long queue to get in.
Most hospitals - they usually have a public toilet near the entrance. Failing that, ask for Genito-Urinary Out-Patients; they're bound to have one handy.
Any pub - let's face it, the old 'customers only' provision stands, but if the place is crowded enough no one's going to notice (unless they've got those security things in place, which is becoming increasingly frequent - but then just use the Prêt technique, above).

The above applies to men's toilets, but probably works equally well for women's (of which I have far less experience). Anyway, your dignity when visiting the capital should remain intact.

Easy peesy, Ms McCartney. Excuse me, I'll be back in a moment...


Blogger Murky said...

Hmm... there really should be a website:

'Toilet codes of the world', a bit like 'bugmenot'. Users could search by country/city/locality and download a list of toilets (with codes) within a given radius.

Users could 'judge' codes if they were found to be inaccurate. New codes could be added as they are found.

If a code was ever changed, any user could upload.

... that really all needs someone with some programming knowledge to set up!

1:34 pm  

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