Once again, a great article from Paul Arnold, this time about toilets in bars and restaurants. Blimey, this sounds sad! Perhaps I am, but we baby-boomers well remember the outside khazis with the cold seats, squares of newspaper to be read and wiped and the chains with a wooden handle at the end, which would have kept the boffins at Porton Down germ research centre busy for a while
Serving in the Royal Navy in the 1970s, privacy was nowhere near the top of the priority list of the Sea Lords. The doors and sides of some toilets were so low that eye-to-eye conversations could be had, as a change from flicking through girly mags. The paper was of the Izal type, great for tracing with, but a bit rough on the rear end; each sheet was marked “government issue”, perhaps to deter those that considered some for home use, mmm
Travelling the world in the navy also gave me the opportunity to play my two favourite sports, rugby and cricket, in some exotic locations. Whilst visiting the Florida Keys one Easter, we were invited to play rugby against the University of Miami, staying overnight in the US Coastguard barracks. Even though we were used to a lack of personal space, seeing their toilets with no doors at all was a shock. Apparently, there was an epidemic of drug users who had previously stuck needles in their arms behind closed doors, as you would.
1991 at Twickenham saw England versus Australia in the rugby World Cup final in the presence of the Queen. I was very lucky to have a ticket and with everyone else downed a few pints of England’s best for the first 40 minutes. At half time, several thousand blokes descended on the inadequate supply of facilities. There were at least two Percys at each urinal, four at the sinks and the rest just used the walls or floor. Well if you gotta go, you gotta go.
Paris has the dubious honour of being a pervs’ paradise. The on-street urinals allow the chaps to watch the girls go by whilst of necessity clinging to their manhood. I imagine that this puts the blushing maidens off their baguettes. The traditional hole in the ground facility complete with footrests is certainly different and requires the skills of a wicket keeper to savour the full experience
So, in 2006 I moved to Spain, quickly adapting to the café culture. It soon became noticeable that whilst the ‘gents’ were always open, the ‘ladies’ had locked doors requiring the fairer sex to ask for the key. Initially I thought that this was to prevent their use by non-patrons, but if so, why weren’t the gents also locked? So, I asked. “Well” said the landlord “If the gents is occupied, the blokes will whip into the ladies and their aim is so poor that they cover the seats and floors. Naturally, they don’t clean up after themselves and the ladies for sure are not going to do this” Quite.