Loos: Civilisations’ Criteria
No one thinks that the quality of the loos in the Ritz Hotel gives any clue to the quality of civilisation, but it’s arguable that, if the quality of public loos matches the quality of the loos in the Ritz Hotel, then the level of civilisation is pretty high.
In Barrettt Street, which is more of a cul de sac than a street, and runs off James Street, which runs off Oxford Street, there is the most magnificent public loo. Surrounding the steps down to the loo are iron railings supporting a small glass roof and decked out in flower tubs with loads of geraniums, nasturtiums, lobelia and such-like. The steps are super-clean and, when you get down to the loos they are super-clean too, at least as clean as the loo in the Ritz Hotel. Whereas the Ritz loo makes do with a nice old guy who runs you a basin of water and hands you a towel, the Barrett Street loo has three large indentations in the wall into which you put your hands which are automatically, serially, treated to soap, warm water and hot air. Ascending from this paragon of a loo, you can take your choice of a pub (the Lamb and Flag), a creperie, a Turkish restaurant called Sofra, an Italian restaurant called Carlucci’s, or a Pizza Express which all surround the tiny square. Or you can just sit by a very bizarre fountain. Good old London, you think.