Pub toilets are good enough for royalty – but do you give access to all?
The story of the Duchess of Cambridge asking to use a pub toilet in Stockwell for her little girl, Princess Charlotte, was one we can all relate to.
Presumably caught short while in transport, one can imagine little Charlotte saying, 'Mummy, I need a wee'. And where else can you quickly stop but a pub? I certainly laughed when I heard the story – it has happened to me several times.
But there is one crucial difference. I have always bought something after using the facilities. Maybe it is manners learnt from my mother and father, but personally I would never ask to use a loo either for myself or my kids without paying up for a quick half pint of Diet Coke or bag of crisps. In the Duchess' case, maybe she thought it was inappropriate to buy something, or maybe there was a donation, but it has been kept private.
I think there is a lesson to be learnt for the general public, though.
When discussing this issue with my wife, I discovered she had several times taken the kids into the local pub toilet at the end of the day, near to the kids' school. "So, did you buy anything?" I asked. "Oh no, but the landlord is always very kind."
I think my wife's view is probably how most people with young kids would act. My argument is simple: the kindness of publicans should be returned in kind. I've easily lost count of the amount of times I have seen people use pub toilets in and around shopping centres, stations and other facilities. I freely admit that I did it all the time – until I became a pub journalist.
Pubs are under threat – the 'use it or lose it' tag being commonplace. So next time you are caught short, head for that local pub, and buy a quick drink or a snack after you've had a tinkle. Everyone has time for that, surely. Maybe publicans should also assert a little bit of casual pressure – a sign saying "Feel free to use the loo, but feel free to have a pint too!" perhaps?
Just imagine if everyone who used pub loos did that...