I think I may have experienced a form of epiphany this evening, and not the sudden realisation meaning. I am talking potential divine intervention.
To be honest, when I sat down to this task, I did not have a clear and formulated idea of what I wanted to say and particularly had no idea I would be writing about toilets, far less, public toilets. However, over the term of the current lockdown I have developed a bit of expertise around these formerly very occasionally visited places.
City of Edinburgh Council has done us proud over the past few months of the pandemic by maintaining and ensuring that many of their toilets have remained open, for the convenience of its citizens. From Cramond to Portobello, Bruntsfield and The Meadows, to Princes Street Gardens. All serving the public, at a time when I needed them so desperately. Not only in keeping the places open and functioning, but in the main doing so in a friendly, pleasant and helpful manner.
That is if you ignore the really crabbit guy that day a few months ago, near to closing time at Cramond, going apoplectic about me standing on his newly washed floor. Or the authoritarian one at Princes Street, who informed me that under no circumstances could I take my dog in to the building, despite my not having displayed any intent to do so.
To be fair, there have been many more positive experiences to counter those. For example, the attendant who offered to hold my dog Daisy when I visited The Meadows on Sunday. The queue was so long that after my visit I toyed with the idea of rejoining it in anticipation that by the time I got back to the head of the queue I would be needing again. However, the toilet that stands above all, though not council run, but still accessible, is the one at the top of Calton Hill. Spotless and offering full Covid protection, it's maybe a bit steep at £1 a donation to visit, but has the added convenience of a contactless payment point for those who have eschewed the use of cash. Well worth a visit.
So what of the epiphany? Well I was on my evening walk and still quite far from home, way after curfew, with all public toilets firmly closed. Without getting too technical, I was burstin' and starting to worry about how I was going to make it home without being involved in an unmentionable accident. As I turned a corner, I saw it, sitting just off the pavement, not quite the middle of the road, but there in all its glory. I identified it as one of those blue portable loo types. The massive moon, perhaps even a full moon was beautifully illuminating the sublime structure. I had experienced nirvana.
I wonder now though, perhaps it was not as sacred an experience as I had at first thought or it had felt. There was a bit of rebuilding and refurbishment going on at one of the nearby houses and just maybe our portaloo was related to that. No matter, it served a purpose.
Writing here last week, Alastair Dobbin
expressed the view that people at the top fail to 'do something radical that would improve the lot of the great unwashed', preferring to sit tight 'in expectation of title or honour'. From my lowly, pensioned position I challenge this damaging, erroneous view. In both my experience and the long history of politics 'something radical' rarely benefits anyone. 'Radical' means striking at the root, untested, revolutionary. How such policies play out in practice is essentially unpredictable and therefore dangerous to the public interest and extremely foolish; look at South America for many examples. And giving up our electoral system (as Dobbin wishes) means transferring decisive power to (private) meetings of elected representatives. How this can be better is not clear to this simpleton.
If Dobbin's preferred policies are those that an independent Scotland might adopt I shudder for its possible future.
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