Monday, 31 March 2014

Inspire Centre, Levenshulme

Unfortunately, I have to begin this review with a health & safety announcement. 

Take a look at this picture and see if you can work out what's wrong. Clue: I'm pointing at it.

The clear plastic front of the toilet roll dispenser leapt off when I merely touched it and ended up on the floor. 

Despite my obvious alarm, I replaced it like a conscious cubicle patron. Which is when I noticed this:

I've never in my 27 years on this planet come across such a concept, but would be interested to know if anyone out there has themselves...

Even though I searched high & low, I could find no further documentation explaining this peculiar phenomenon. I must therefore assume it's the work of either someone attempting to create a toilet-based social network, or a deranged yet well-meaning toilet attendant who merely wants to spread the good word.

Answers on a postcard, please... In the mean time, I award this a paltry 1 out of 5 flushes, due to the danger I felt I was put in.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Swinton Shopping Centre

I'm not proud of what I'm about to admit here, but I feel that I need to get it off my chest. Ok, here goes...

I used a disabled toilet earlier today, not to prove some sort of point or because I'm a convention defier, but because there was someone cleaning the gent's.

I feel a lot better for that, actually. A palpable weight has been lifted.

Ok, only a couple of points I feel need to be raised here.

One, is it frowned upon to utilise a baby changer to store your jacket?

Because if it is, then strike two against me!

And secondly, has anyone else ever come across a 2 person hand-dryer?

I think the manufacturer of this thing thought they were making games consoles, because I can think of no other valid reason this exists. Especially as this is, remember, in a single person disabled toilet.

You might think it's for whoever's assisting the disabled individual, but everything else in the cubicle seems designed to ensure no second party is needed, whether for wiping or emotional support.

Could it be for mother (or father) and baby? I don't think so, a baby's hands aren't big enough to warrant a whole half of a hand dryer, surely?

So, a rather perplexing situation presents itself... Answers on a postcard, please.

Oh, and 2 flushes out of 5, in case you were wondering...

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Birmingham New Street (managed by Network Rail)

THE FUTURE IS HERE! I think. It's somewhere around here I'm sure.

Birmingham New Street. Birmingham's best and worst train station simultaneously. It's steadily getting better thanks to lots of improvements and refurbishments in both the station and the surrounding areas. It's costing lots of money and, in true Network Rail style, a long time. Also, just outside, the tram line is finally being built towards New Street (did you know Birmingham has trams? No? That's why they're extending it to the biggest railway station then).

Speaking of improvements, the toilets! Speaking of Network Rail, the confusion!

Birmingham New Street is currently split in two. The A-side and the B-side. Don't let the lettering fool you, it's the opposite to singles where the A-side is what you actually want and the B-side is something thrown in for good measure. T'other way round this time. If you alight your train on the "B" side of the platform, go up the escalators and you will find yourself in the new section of the station. Food places, ticket office, shops, etc. There are two passageways into the central section (where the exits are) from the "B" section. Section "A" however, has not yet had its upgrades. Enter the station from the platform in the "A" section, and you have a very long corridor with only one way out (on the lower number end, so you've got a long way if you arrive on platform 12A).

Now then, to toilets. Section "B" has the toilets right at the platform 12B end of the corridor (if you arrive on platform 1B, you're gonna have to run). Standard Network Rail 30p entrance fee to get in though. More on whether it's worth it in a moment. HOWEVER, if you arrive on the "A" side, how long it takes to get to somewhere to relieve yourself depends on your gender. The "A" side currently only has female facilities available (between the platform 5 and 6 escalators by the single exit to the central area). So, if you're a bloke on the A side, you have to go all the way to passageway (including ticket barriers) into the central area, across the central area, through one of B side's ticket barriers, down the corridor towards platform 12B, pay your entry fee and get in. Hope you made it. Might be quicker to go down to the platform and across to the B side escalators and back up again.

In all fairness to Network Rail, there are gents toilets being refurbished/replaced on the A side which may open in future to the closing of the female toilets instead, but I don't know. I thought it was worth mentioning here though.

Right, onto the actual gents loos. After paying your entry fee, there's a few differences to other Network Rail-run station loos. First off, it smells fine. No problems with stocking air fresheners here unlike Euston. The thrones themselves have a problem though. One which I shall go into great detail about:

I had to tilt.

Okay, more detail needed. The new toilets in New Street have proximity/motion sensors for flushing (like I said, the future is here). Typically, this involves waving your hand in front of the sensor. However, there is a problem with these sensors, as I found sitting down and leaning back (as you would normally) sets them off. In the name of this blog, I had to investigate with a Vine:

That's quite a distance it gets set off, and perhaps it's a little too low as well. So, in order to counteract this and continue with my business, I had to A) tilt to the side, and B) tilt forwards, resulting in being diagonal to the back of the stall. Uncomfortable, I can tell you. Fortunately, the seat was very clean, so rotating myself didn't result in introducing myself to any remains from prior users. One final thing, the dryers were some non-branded generic ones, not the Dyson ones that Manchester Pic and Euston use, so they were like being coughed on by an asthmatic.

After my visit, I did have to inform Network Rail staff that the sensors were malfunctioning or badly placed. One staff member mentioned that their reflective clothing sets the sensors off from quite a distance too, but agreed that there may be a problem with the specific stall. Hopefully this gets fixed, but it was very unpleasant.

So, time to round up with scores. Two points lost for gents only being on the B-side (they get this point back when the ones on the A-side open up), point lost for having rubbish dryers, only one point lost for the broken sensor as this might get fixed, add one point for having air fresheners that worked very well, points sustained for clean seats and dry floors.

All totalled up, 7/10

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Jack Spratt's, Manchester

This is a trendy bar in Manchester city centre, and the single unisex cubicle quite neatly reflects this. 

I always expect a queue outside these ones, but there never is. Almost disappointing, in a way...

Easily the most striking thing about this W.C. is the artwork daubed on the walls. 

There's this on the inside of the door:

It looks like a deleted scene from a Tarantino film. I like to imagine the old man is suddenly going to pull a sawn-off shotgun from the depths of his coat and blow those guys behind him away. But after a 40 minute discussion on fizzy drinks or something.

Then there's this:

Scantily-clad seƱoritas peer down at you whilst you conduct your business, whether judging or admonishing you is left to the user's imagination... Well, their husbands have gone to war, and their only pleasure in life is to watch Mancunians make potty.

I like this bog, I'm not going to lie, and for it's uniqueness, coupled with the exotic mystery of the paintings, I'm going to award this 5 flushes out of 5! Magnifico!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A quick one

So the store has just opened. The customers start arriving. One of them needs the toilet. He goes in. There is no soap and it smells horrible. It is the beginning of the day, how has the toilet not even been looked at? Is that not part of the beginning of the day before you open up the store?


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Chester Railway Station Platforms 4-7 - Gents

"These toilets are available until 18:00"
that's a good sign...

First off, Chester station has two sets of toilets. One set in the buildings on platforms 4-7, the other set are on the main concourse just inside the station. Therefore, you need a ticket to get through the barriers to the ones I'm about to talk about. Just so you know.

First off, as you enter the corridor (i.e. Where you choose your gender-specific door) the smell is horrendous. This is really weird when the smell is completely gone when you enter the gents, and everyone knows girls don't poo, right? Anyway, the room is very small and cramped, where you almost have to contort yourself around the corner to the single cubicle. Interestingly, it seemed to have been recently cleaned, or perhaps a better class of people use this toilet (considering you need a ticket to access it) as the seat was dry and the water was clear! A rarity with public loos. Of course, I could be lucky, but it left a good impression. Flushing is a push button which is rather odd. Beware however, as when I visited there was no soap available, which you would think "oh they'll refill it", but on both times I've visited this particular loo in the past, there hasn't been any. I'm guessing it runs out part-way through the day and nobody refills it.

Oh, and one last thing: this graffiti amused me, namely the last line at the bottom (WARNING: strong language ahead) click here for picture

Points lost for only one cubicle and repeated lack of soap. I would deduct points for the smell, but that's in the corridor on approach, but I will deduct points for only being open part-time.

Final mark: 6/10

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Verve, Leeds

What to say about so generic a toilet? Not a whole lot, alas.

The most remarkable/frustrating feature of these particular facilities is that they're located upstairs! Upstairs! In this day & age, I'm surprised they don't contravene some sort of health & safety policy. I'm sure of a Saturday night, many a drunken reveller has taken a near-fatal plunge down these very steps. Whether post or pre-wee we'll leave to the imagination...

These toilets don't emanate any warmth or friendliness, they're simply ambivalent metal troughs against which litres of recycled booze is sloshed against night after night. And they're upstairs! Madness...

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Loo review - Sandbar, Manchester

This bar's bohemian pissers are to be expected, as the place itself is nestled firmly in student territory.

You step into the anteroom that separates the gent's from the ladies, and it's as if someone with severe mental issues decorated with whatever was in their garage a the time. Once you've puzzled out the correct way to go, you're into the loos themselves.

Functional & uncompromising, a strip urinal takes up one wall. The Lilliputian sink laughs at your attempts to fit both hands under one tap, and the single bathroom stall barely has enough room in which to swing a cat.

The graffiti as well hardly warrants mentioning, nonsensical & impenetrable as it is. It's as though someone vomited the contents of a Russian phone book over the walls, and instead of an occasional piece of sweetcorn, there's the odd peeled band sticker.

The bathroom, alas, fails to live up to the quality of the surrounding boozer, and thus only scores a paltry 2 flushes out of a possible 5...