Friday, 27 February 2009

Paying a pound to pee

Another flashback to Travels with Muriel (this one of 29 December), and thanks to Donald for forwarding this bit of trivia. He writes, in his accompanying email, ‘I saw this and thought of you. Actually I thought of your outraged, scandalised, hands-in-the-air (if you hadn’t been lugging an articulated suitcase behind you) look in Edinburgh bus station, one early morning in December.’

It’s bad enough getting off a bus after hours of nipping, then having to pay to pee, but Irish budget airline Ryanair is considering installing a coin slot on the door of its inflight toilets. How’s that for adding insult to injury? Aeroplane toilets must be – maybe aside from those on coaches and trains and at outdoor concerts – the very pits of the human excretory experience. (Go to for the full story.)

It reminds me of when my sister and I were in London in 1993 and the exchange rate was (outrageously, we thought) 6:1. We were in Harrods and, needing the loo, were directed to the ‘paying toilets’ – a pound a go. My sister wasn’t having any of it. ‘I’m not paying Six Ront to pee!’ she said, and we took ourselves sniffily to the cheap toilets a floor down (no charge, but also no nice smelly stuff to wash your hands with or fluffy towels to dry them).

And here’s a little ‘small world’ aside. While we were in the cheap loos, my sister was in a stall and I was outside washing my hands (with non-smelly soap), and my sister was, as she does, regaling me through the closed door with all sorts of comments and opinions about, well, everything. While this was happening, a stranger walked in and immediately pricked up her ears. ‘Is that Beatrice Hastings I hear?’ she asked, in a South African accent. (Beatrice Hastings is not really my sister’s name but I don’t have her permission to repeat this story so I have changed it to protect her flawless reputation.)

(I must add here that my sister, who is in adult education, did admittedly have a distinctive voice then – she'd had polyps on her vocal cords which were surgically removed and left her for some time afterwards sounding like Bette Davis.)

‘Indeed it is,’ I said.

‘Hi Beatrice!’ called this total stranger, in Harrods cheap loos in the middle of London. ‘It’s Jenny from South Africa here. I was on your course last year. How’re you doing?’

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1 comment:

Ruth Kirby said...

I don't fly with Ryanair, but if I ever have to I'm taking a nappy.