Gripes & Graplings

Monday, October 31, 2005

British Toilets

What is it with the British and toilet hygiene? If I had a pound for every British toilet I’ve visited that’s a disgrace to the country, I’d be rich by now!

I’m talking about public toilets here, of course. Not that I’m saying that toilets in people’s homes are always clean, I’m sure some aren’t, but as I rarely use private toilets apart from in the homes of close friends—whose bathroom facilities are generally clean—it’s the state of our public toilets I’m concerned about.

This all kicked off during yesterday’s trip to Blackpool. I desperately needed the loo so, rather than use a public toilet, I asked to use the toilet at the café where we ate. Expecting to be directed to a nice, cosy toilet, instead I was sent out onto the street to a toilet at the side of the building. Ok... so maybe they had no way of providing access from the inside of the building but had it been raining, I wouldn’t have been too happy. But it wasn’t, so no harm done.

No harm until I actually stepped inside the toilet, that is.

I really shouldn’t have been shocked having seen so many disgusting British toilets but this one belonged to an FOOD establishment, and as such I would have expected at least a modicum of cleanliness. But, no - it was filthy!

The toilet bowl itself had deep tan layer below the waterline where many a person has peed but few, if any, have cleaned. The dirty sink was home to a sad looking, wet bar of soap and the tap was so loose that it went spun on the edge of the sink. The floor could have done with a good scrub and if I’m going to be really fussy, it would have been nice if the toilet paper had been in its holder, rather than on the floor with damp edges!

Good points? The hand dryer worked and there was a bolt on the inside of the door!

Now, bear in mind that although accessed from the street, this wasn’t a public toilet as such. You had to buzz your way in so I don’t imagine just any old Tom, Dick or Harry off the street could go wandering in there, leaving all sorts of mess behind. This place was dirty because whoever is responsible for cleaning obviously doesn’t see toilet hygiene as a priority.

Quite honestly, after seeing the toilet, it made me wonder what the standards in the kitchen might be like! Needless to say, I didn’t finish my meal.

What I really can’t understand is why the British have such little pride in the surroundings. Yesterday’s experience was just one of many similar experiences I’ve had, and some have been a whole lot worse. I’ve seen excrement wiped on walls, blood on toilet seats, and it’s certainly not uncommon to see puddles of urine on the floor. Neither of these problems are caused by a cleaner’s lack of enthusiasm, either! In fact, if I were a toilet cleaner, I’d seriously consider jacking the job in if I had to face those kinds of conditions every day!

I spent 18 years in Norway and not once did I see anything even remotely similar to the kind of filth I’ve experience in British toilets. I’m ashamed to invite friends to our country because, as a nation, we’ve little to be proud of when it comes to cleanliness!

Cool Britannia? There’s nothing cool about filth!

Related Links:
The British Toilet Association
The 2005 World Toilet Summit



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