Monday, 5th August 2013
by Joshua Gaskell
In the Piccadilly area, hand-delivering a submission (ungraciously received), I find myself called by nature to the little boys’ room in Green Park tube. It’s a while since I’ve been in there, and I’m furious to discover that they’ve installed what I believe our friends in new media call a ‘paywall’: a pathetic little turnstile charging 50p per pee. Since when was the phrase ‘to spend fifty pennies’?
(I see on TfL’s toilets map that Green Park is one of twenty-six that they have outcried to the highest bidder, along with a further fifteen that they still run, but nevertheless choose to charge for. Baker Street seems to be the only station within the Circle line’s orbital with a toilet currently being run on the oh-so old-fashioned from-each-to-each/free at the point of use model.)
So, I’m deprived of a reacquaintance with the fine ’30s ceramics of this particular latrine by the malign forces of Spätkapitalismus, and cycle home on a full bladder. I am a civilised, adult, human-being, living in a modern welfare state in the year 2013. Whilst apparently there exists not the requisite wealth for the provision of a W1 WC, I nonetheless make this a point of principle: for micturition I will not pay!
100 years ago…
Even the fundamental human need to spend a penny costs at least 20 pee at the mainline railway termini.
– The Times, 1999