I was on an early morning train from Petersfield to London, Waterloo – just over an hour’s journey. Having already enjoyed my mug of tea before leaving the house, I settled down on the train to enjoy the second mug. It was only after I had drained that cup, did the guard announce over the intercom that all the loos on the train were out of order. Initially I wasn’t worried. I could last an hour, although I could have done with a pit stop, then and there. Only there were signal problems and the train was a full 45 mins late into Waterloo. By this stage, my need for a comfort break was urgent. Only some of the barriers at Waterloo were not working so there was a long, slow queue of passengers shuffling slowly through to the concourse. By this stage, my need was exceedingly urgent. I scurried across the concourse towards the ladies – sweet relief was in sight!
Only there was a queue of ladies getting through the turn style into the loos. There, you have to pay 30p so the idea is you have the right change ready to get through. Most ladies know this. Only the lady in front of me didn’t. She got to the turn style and then started vaguely fussing in her purse for the right shrapnel. Nothing. Then she started rummaging through her bag. Nothing. Then she started going through her pockets. With tears in my eyes, I offered her 3 10p coins and said: “here, I have lots of change, please allow me.” She turned to me and in a superior and patronising tone she said: “oh no, my dear, I couldn’t possibly take charity from you!”
That’s when I snapped: “MADAM, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHARITY AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH MY SURVIVAL AND YOUR OBVIOUS LACK OF A SENSE OF SELF PRESERVATION!” She stared at me as the penny dropped before sort of melting to one side to allow me through where, finally, I could spend my penny and live another day. If I hadn’t been so desperate, I would have taken a bow, in response to the little patter of applause from the long line of ladies behind me who clearly were in a similar predicament.