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Sunday, 7 March 2010

Ever been “dying to go” – but couldn’t find anywhere?

The most exciting thing that ever happened to me in a public toilet was in Singapore in 1976.

I had flown out for an interview with Leo Burnett there - they wanted to hire me as a creative director.

When I arrived late at night (after a 30 hour trip via Kuala Lumpur) the MD took me out for a meal in an outdoor restaurant in Bugis Street, the outdoor street market famed for its transvestites.

It was a wonderful place, now closed down by the puritanical government that has substituted efficiency and hypocrisy for liveliness and character there. At one point I went to relieve myself, only to find a soft hand reaching from behind to give me a little help, which I gracefully refused. The meal was excellent.

Yesterday I was astounded to find a free public toilet in Church Street market, Edgware Road, here in London. I went to get some cheap herbs and baklava there (the market, not the toilet).

“This must be the last one of these left in London,” I said to the bloke next to me.

I haven’t seen one for ages. This is because years ago one of the stream of half-wits who have run London decided they weren’t necessary – as though prosperity banishes bladders.

“That’s why all the pavements are covered with piss every Saturday night,” my neighbour remarked.

Almost everything done by British governments in the last 65 years has been foolish. They introduced a free health service open to everyone whether they had money or not –which was not the idea. Then just to utterly destroy it they put “managers” in to interfere with the perfectly competent nurses and doctors.

But there is more.

They destroyed the excellent grammar schools. They turned excellent polytechnics into second rate universities. They failed to get into Europe when we could have influenced its shape. They pissed away the riches of North Sea Oil. They nationalised everything, then denationalised it – and sold its assets at silly prices, privatising without creating the competition that stimulates improvement. I could go on – and unfortunately they will, because they don’t know what they’ve done wrong.

After buying my stuff I walked to the block of council flats where my last wife was living with five kids before I took her away from all that so she could surgically extract all my assets a couple of years ago. I remember those flats being built. They won lots of architectural awards in the ‘60s and quickly turned into vertical slums.

The area round there is no longer predominantly black and Irish; it’s now Muslim. I saw a group –the girls wearing headscarves - busy working on a local community garden. Good stuff. Maybe they can make something of the awful mess the planners created for us all. I have far more faith in immigrants than most. They built this country. But will they survive its politicians?

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