I nipped out for a quick sandwich at lunch today, and saw something that puzzled me. Just off Oxford Street (the Marble Arch end) between HSBC bank and some American Steak House thing, there's a public toilet.

It's one of those self contained pod affairs, and looks quite smart for a public toilet. I've never used it (and suspect I never will after today ..) but as I walked past on my way back to the office this guy (presumably a maintenance guy) had opened up the side of it. The whole side panel (about six foot by six foot) was lifted up to reveal a mass of wiring and complex looking bits of equipment.

Now .. I'm not particularly up to speed on the mechanics of public toilets, and I'm not a 'hardware' man per se .. in short I have no idea what to expect to find in the inner workings of a public convenience, but all this stuff looked completely out of place.

It looked like it should be doing something a lot more complicated than:

take money
validate coin
release lock
let hapless victim out after 2 hours

So what the hell are they up to?
  • Filming everyone (this creeps me out)
  • Given that it's next to an HSBC branch maybe someone's secretly monitoring cashpoint transactions or something
  • Perhaps some cheapskate's set up his server in there
  • Maybe it's the entrance to The Bat Cave
Or maybe it's something more sinister ..

Being one of those unfortunates who have to sit down on public toilets or else risk making an utter mess, I really, really appreciated the newer public toilets in Europe. Yes, you do need to have appropriate coinage, but LOOK what you get for it...

a toilet that is smell-free, that flushes itself, that has been freshly cleansed, that has actual toilet paper, soap and a working dryer, that doesn't have anyone living in it, that is warm and well lit... what more could you ask?

Well, some places have topped this. I was fascinated by the toilet seat which CAME OUT OF THE WALL, REVOLVED AND WAS CLEANSED by a cute little mechanism that actually scrubbed the darn thing. No longer need I fear sitting lest I come away with some horrific animal life or my favorite parts start to rot off.

Ok, so I'm easily entertained... and no, I didn't manage to smuggle one back home with me *sigh*

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