‘More or less,’ he rejoined, scampering out of the conservatory door.
‘What do you mean by less,’ I pressed.
‘Well, I’ve just got to wander round the back of the garage for a wee-wee.’
Does the word penury spring to mind? There are three perfectly functioning toilets in the house, yet my father – he’s on a water meter – would prefer to frighten the cock pheasant and rabbit playing happily together in the garden. Dad promptly vanished like a discontented fairy, no doubt elated having saved approximately one-and-a-half pence for a loo flush. And I mean “fairy” in the traditional sense, of course, not in the sense of skipping along, one’s torso and upper limbs resembling the shape of a teapot.
Talking of pennies, where does the expression spend a penny originate? Well, in sexist bygone days – ooh, sixty years or so ago – girls had to pay to use public lavatories: a penny was required for the coin-operated lock. Meanwhile, men could marvel for free at the apogee of their own urine ascent against the urinals. But if one bears in mind that girls seem to eat toilet paper – how else could they possibly get through so much of the stuff? – then perhaps the charge was justified.
2p or not to pee?
The kybosh, I suppose, was finally put on the expression when the Daily Telegraph announced ‘2p to spend a penny’ in 1977. Yet you’ll still hear the odd fusty dragon use it. I think it’s rather quaint myself – a trifle more eloquent than saying, ‘I’m dying for a piss.’
Anyway, when we’d finally stopped faffing and got out the door, I took these pictures. They were taken on December 26th in Seaton, UK. The Axe Vale Hunt was champing at the bit outside the Hook and Parrot; lunatics were disrobing and leaping into the sea for charity – it’s a cultural anomaly in this country.
Nags in Drag
‘The horse riders in green are the top-notch ones,’ said my friend Allie, pretending he knew something about local hunting. ‘And it’s only a drag hunt, actually.’ Ooh, transvestites and horseplay? Let’s investigate further and interview some horsey crumpet. ‘Those girls are too young for you,’ added Dad in an arch, mischievous tone, before I’d even approached any.
So we walked to Beer instead, via Seaton Hole. What a splendid town Beer is, a town in which fat people can order “Cream by Post”. Hooray! Enfeebled with hunger ourselves, we stopped for a flask and sandwiches on the way, on a bench offering a magical view. And what do I find? Only half a tomato with my cheese and pickle sandwich, that’s what. ‘A whole one wouldn’t fit in the box,’ said Dad, up to his parlour tricks again. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, as they say..