On our adult group tour of English cathedrals, the question was not, “Are we there yet?” but “How long to the next loo?” [This was probably our most efficient exchange of American to English vocabulary since the three letters of “loo” come in at 37.5% of the eight in “rest room.”]
An experienced tour guide, Sarah frequently forestalled the question by giving the answer before the question could be asked. Equally opposed to American chains like McDonalds and Starbucks and the English Harrods, she planned visits to public facilities in quaint villages recognized by some of the tour members from tourist brochures and to British rest stops with multiple businesses. [We were a bit amused that about half the shops in the rest stops were imported American fast food chains.]
At one point, a very bad joke came from the back of the bus in response to her forewarning of an upcoming stop. “Is this where we get the song ‘Skip to My Loo’?” I’ll refrain from calling the jokester’s name.
I must say that the English have made no more progress than their American cousins on one issue. Neither seems to know there should be twice as many facilities for women as for men. I think the first architect to figure that out in designing a building is going to make a mint of money.
We saw seven cathedrals, and I would be hard put to choose my favorite, but I do know my favorite loo. On the last day in Oxford, we came to the one in my picture. Not only was the loo clean and up-to-date, it fed two of my passions. I couldn’t help but wonder who had the ingenious idea of putting fresh flowers and a book exchange in a public bathroom. It’s an idea I hope will catch on.