Friday 5 November 2010

Hung out to dry

One thing that often irritates me about pubs is the inadequacy of the washing arrangements. Some people deal with this by simply not washing their hands, but if you do want to, it's often not easy. One of the worst examples I know is a pub in Liverpool pub where the wash basin has the hand dryer immediately above it and both are situated in the short passageway between the gents and the main room of the pub; while you use the sink and dryer, no one can enter or leave. The dryer is, frankly, rubbish too.

I wonder at the mentality of building a gents that can accommodate half a dozen or more people, but which has only one or two sinks, and a single dryer, sometimes over the sink. Hand dryers can often take more than a minute to dry your hands properly, which isn't very useful in a busy gents.  If everyone queued for the dryer, you could in theory be waiting 10 minutes; perhaps it's just as well everyone doesn't wash their hands! The best hand dryers I've come across are in Wetherspoons; they dry your hands in seconds. The worst are almost completely ineffectual.

My local has disconnected the hand dryer and replaced it with paper towels, and it seems to me that more people wash their hands as a result. I remember when pubs used to have blue roll towels, and my subjective impression is that more people would give their hands a quick dip under the tap and use the roll towel. I think washing facilities are used more when the process can be completed very quickly; you don't have to queue to wash and dry your hands at home so why should you in a pub?

Another failure is when there is a warning sign over the sink that the water is very hot, but there is no plug, so you have a choice of scalding yourself or washing your hands in cold water. It's not as though a plug costs a fortune.

These are not trivial matters - they are potentially health issues, and I am surprised that some pubs' washing facilities are actually legal, bearing in mind that the staff often use the same facilities as the public, so I would have thought that food hygiene laws would apply. I certainly recall that women would object to going into certain pubs because of the state of the toilets, but nowadays it's an issue men take more interest in than they used to. It's long overdue for some pub owning companies to clean up their act.

For obvious reasons, I can comment only about gents toilets!


  1. Surprised more people haven't pitched in since it's payday for many and they must be feeling FLUSH, ha ha!

    Seriously, I think we're turning into a population of degenerates and mediaeval tramps. At the last knocking I saw five people shake the snake and then dribble into the main bar area with zero consideration for hygiene or passing on toxic bacteria to their friends and the barmaid.

    Or maybe this is just a Spoons phenomenon.

    Repulsive. If you don't wash, whoever you are, you should feel ashamed of yourself. You could be carrying something.

  2. Apparently women are better, but not by much.

  3. Oh no, they are not!

    Ladies loos are often in an awful state and that's because of the customers not due to the pub. A lot of women will come out of the loo and touch up hair and make-up but don't wash their mitts.

    I do wash my hands and if the dryer is about as effective as a cat breathing on you, use toilet roll to dry.

    Basic manners to wash your hands, the shocking part is many folks teach their kids to wash after going but don't follow the same routine.

  4. I've mentioned this lack of general hygiene before in my blog. I've lost count of the number of times I'm the only one to wash my hands.

  5. I remember a scrawled comment I once saw on a hand dryer, which amuses me still. After a list of instructions advising dryees to "activate dryer by moving hands under nozzle, rub hands gently under air flow" etc. some wag had added as a final comment 'now wipe hands on trousers!'
    Even in my dark hours, I can still raise a wry smile by thinking of that one!
    Heh, heh. That nails it really doesn't it? As Blur would have it 'Modern Life Is Rubbish.'

  6. Meer: I'll obviously bow to your greater knowledge about women’s behaviour. It seems that we males are not the only offenders, despite preconceptions to the contrary.

    In this post, I was concentrating on inadequate facilities, but I agree that too many people's standards of hygiene leave a lot to be desired. I remember reading quite a few years ago that an analysis of a bowl of free peanuts on a bar showed there were traces of urine from around 15 different people. Yuch!

  7. The pub you refer to must be the Carnarvon Castle.
    One of the worst offenders in Liverpool is The Vernon on Dale St. The hand dryer no longer works, but neither does the flush most of the time and it smells. Don't think anything was done after the long closure, it spoils an otherwise decent pub.
    My friend Geoff told me he once went into a British Bar in Switzerland Everything else in the bar was ruthlessly efficient,clean and well Swiss. Then he went to the toilet and it was just like back home!


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