Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Visit the new Vue cinema at posh Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush (it's like the Metro Centre, but with chandeliers). Cinema tickets are £9.70 each. A coffee is £2.90. But worst of all, a small popcorn is £4.60. I am so disgusted I give the assistant the fun-size carton back and say I am not paying. It is a good job I have jelly sweets, Milky Bars and a pasty in my handbag to rustle up later.
Despite the shiny hand driers and space age sanitary bins, there is no toilet paper in the ladies. While sitting on the Vue toilet, hoping I do not miss the start of the film, I am reminded of my strange relationship with toilet roll in public toilets. It is something that has gone on for almost 20 years.
It was the first time I was allowed to go to the Metro Centre in Gateshead without my family, but in the company of ‘Jen-Pal’ my best friend throughout primary school. We were going to get the bus from Carlisle to the north-east and spend our pocket money on Athena posters, Impulse body sprays and rides at Metro Land. We would not have to be dragged around Marks and Spencer with our parents in the boring Green Zone. It was very exciting.
But before we got on the bus, Jen’s mum dragged us to one side. ‘Now remember to be careful in the toilets there,' she said, handing us a packet of tissues. 'Drug users wipe their needles on the toilet roll.’ And with that, we were off.
I knew it couldn’t be true. Why would heroin addicts travel to the Metro Centre to shoot up? It’s only really accessible by bus and car. It’s not as if they would pop into Toys R Us, score, and then trundle off to the ladies. But Jen’s mum’s words have haunted me ever since. And I will always take the first two sheets of toilet paper off the roll in any public toilet before I use it.
It probably amounts to several hundred rolls in my lifetime. Am I being punished in Vue toilets?