This morning, crossing the road, I almost walked into a man relieving himself on a street corner – nothing furtive about it, just peeing away with his back to the main road. And a week or so before we were in Hampton Wick – hardly gritty urban London, a suburb that could have been designed with the words ‘leafy’ in mind – climbing up the stairs to the platform when we saw another man just pissing into the corner of the stairs at five o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. I’m sorry, but did I miss the announcement that it was now OK to pee in public, any time of the day or night? Was there a Public Urination (Promotion) Act that I unaccountably overlooked? The thing about both these encounters was that I wasn’t shocked; I wasn’t even surprised. And the culprits didn’t react to my noticing them with any sort of shame or embarrassment. If anything, the look I got was more along the lines of ‘Excuse me, can’t you see I’m having a pee? Would you give me a bit of privacy here, please?’
The thing is, guys (and yes, it is always guys in my experience although maybe 24 hour binge drinking will see to that), it stinks. The whole of London seems to be affected. Anywhere you are, any time of the day or night, you can pass a corner or turn down a street and then, wham, a blast of rank stale urine. The whole city smells like a badly cleaned public toilet. It’s foul. And I don’t think we should put up with it any more.
There’s not much you lads can do about it, apart from keeping it zipped of course, but for us girls there is one thing we can try. Public ridicule. Point and laugh. Especially these days when it’s nice and cold and there’s not much to laugh at. I think it’s time to start a campaign.