Monthly Smile: How to spend 200 cents in St Francis Bay

By Bev Mortimer:

When I was little and we went to the big shops in Eloff Street, my granny always used to say:  “We are going to spend a penny!”  And a penny could buy a lot in those days. This old British coin was also so handy when you really needed to visit the rest rooms…

Times have flown and now it is 200 cents for the same purpose in St Francis Bay…

If that’s not bad enough there is a local price war with another toilet outlet charging “only 100 cents”… “It’s cheaper to ‘pee’ on my side,” is the cry…

And meanwhile some are complaining that those who cannot afford to pay 200 cents or 100 cents will now have to walk miles before they can find a free toilet locally.

And there are no public municipal toilets in the shopping area of the town. The beach is too far, but even so, the sea washed away some ablution blocks some time back, while others are kept locked.

In case you’re wondering it’s because there are no permanent cleaners on duty in these outlets to police the activities of those entering the loos. It appears that when a few of the town’s public toilets were free and unlocked some homeless people had a field day, washing their hair or bathing from the basins and vandalism was rife.…

Regular patrons wrung their hands and shouted out their horror. The result: “By charging we will cut out these bathroom activities. A cloakroom is for loo purposes only after all!”

Even renowned stores like Harrods in London caused a fuss when they first started ‘charging a pound to spend a penny’ – that was some time back and I understand it’s still 1 GBP to visit those luxurious restrooms and pee in style.

And while we are on this subject of how to go when you really have to, it’s interesting to note that pundits say: “‘Peeing’ is political. After all, things like noise, smell, privacy and accessibility are all crucial issues for us and do have profound effects on our daily lives.”

One can of course visit a local pub or restaurant, place an order and then get a key from the waitron to use an establishment’s private facilities… making it a really expensive way to answer the call of nature.  But for some who simply cannot wait, it has been whispered that the bushes behind the bowling club are the new handy outlets. It’s also believed to be where a few, poor homeless people are staying.

Another relieving spot I’m told is the plot between Philippa Place and Nevil Road. The strong hot rays of summer are not quite here yet… we may well have to drive with the windows up… phew!!

So a word of advice for those not in the know, when you go down to the shops today, be sure to have plenty of R2 or R1 coins.  I hope the banks and shops are stocking up with this coinage in their tills because my guess is there will be many, many holiday folk who will want to get change in peak season. And the tills in most shops can only be opened when you buy something!

Some may well start squatting on the grass or resurrect the old practice maiden aunts managed quite successfully when they travelled long distances on the trains – using a bottle under their long skirts.  Incidentally, this reminds me of another olden day expression for how to spend a penny… “I am going to visit my aunt!”

Perhaps it’s better to just not drink anything and walk or drive around completely parched in the hot sun until you get home quite nicely frazzled… At least that way you will have avoided the queues of people wanting the correct denominations in banks and shops, or the long lines of harassed shoppers standing cross-legged before they can get to the slots.

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