Mind the lock! Toilet trouble on the London train nearly gave me a right old eyeful
PUBLISHED: 07:49 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 07:49 17 February 2020
Helen McDermott took a train to London - and got herself into a small bit of bathroom bother on the way
I used to enjoy taking trips to London, seeing friends, visiting a gallery, going to a show and prowling Bond Street looking in all the posh shops, sometimes even daring to go in them, always keeping a firm grip on my credit card. But now, even though I still enjoy the thought of going up to the big city, it's lost a lot of its charm. It's become so busy and crowded with hordes of people, most of them glued to their phones so that the pavements are more dangerous than the roads. What's more, those people seem to be getting taller and less tolerant.
The place has turned into a land of giants. At just five-foot-one-and-a-bit, I'm terrified of getting trodden on. I think that little people like me need more consideration, more protection. We have protest groups fighting ageism, racism, sexism, fascism, etcetera. Maybe it's time for small folk to rise up and take on shortism. I wouldn't mind seeing shop counters lowered a bit and food put on lower shelves, and I do get tired of rather stupid people who keep telling me how short I am. One day I shall bite them on the knee.
Last week I did have to go up to London on business, using my pensioner's perk of a cheap first class ticket and, in theory at least, travelling in style. I've yet to travel on one of the snazzy new Greater Anglia trains so I can't comment on them. My train was made up of the old stock, which I have to say I still rather like. If you're lucky there are still refreshments available, though I have to say the coffee was pretty ghastly, but at least it was still on offer.
I mentioned this to an old Anglia friend recently and we reminded ourselves of those glorious days when we could take our seats in the restaurant car and pass the journey to or from London with a breakfast, or afternoon tea, or a good dinner. Travelling became a real occasion.
Those days are long gone but fondly remembered. At least this time I got a seat, the train was on time, and the journey was trouble-free - well, almost. A vast improvement to trains these days is the accommodation for people with a disability, wider loo doors that swing back to admit a wheelchair.
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The loos aren't exclusively for disabled people; they are available for all of us. So, needs must... I waited my turn. There's a sign that says "close" and another one that flashes and says "lock", but you're not entirely sure that you're safely locked in, and that others are safely locked out. It can be rather fraught.
So there I am outside a closed door. I pressed open, and there on view to all was a rather smart gentleman standing over the loo with his trousers down. As he frantically tried to zip up his flies I frantically tried to summon up something to say that might help to cover his embarrassment. The best I could manage as we went our separate ways was: "No problem. I haven't got my glasses on."
Close by, other passengers couldn't help laughing at what had gone on and offered suggestions as to what else might have been said. "Not much to worry about there," said one woman. "I've seen it all before," said her friend. Someone else piped up. "Have we met? Lovely socks."
It's different abroad. I was in the loo on a train and this actor started talking to me, recorded of course. "Hello. And how are you?" I can't remember the language, but he went on with something like: "Don't forget to flush the loo and wash your hands." Inevitably, he signed off with "Have a nice day."
I wonder if Greater Anglia might like me to record a few comforting words and a little advice: Mind the lock.
DAVID CARTER; I was so sad to hear of the death of David Carter. As well as his work as musical director for the Theatre Royal and many West End productions, he made time to shape the music for our pantomimes at Gorleston Pavilion. We may be a comparatively small company, but nothing was too much trouble for him, a fine musician and a good friend. He left us with happy memories