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Let fat cats pay for us spending a penny

THE best things in life are free, but bring some money if you need a pee.

I apologise, right away, for two things. One, for introducing a lavatorial theme into these pristine pages.

As we'll discover, though, it's by way of discussing a serious topic dear to my heart: getting things for nothing. My second apology is for the cultural crime of taking a fair to fab Beatles song and replacing the second line, a pleasant allusion to birds and bees, with altogether wetter words.

That said, the song's chorus - Now give me money (that's what I want) - is being sung with gusto by Glasgow's Central Station, which has put up the price of using its public lavatory to 40 pee.

The proletariat and other classes are up in arms. But what can you do? When you've got to go you've got to go. It is this fundamental flaw of nature that the station's canny money-gatherers are exploiting.

Put it this way: we do not waddle into a public lavatory for a wee treat. We go out of necessity or perchance a last chance to sit in comfort before getting on the train.

To be fair, or at least to affect some "both sides" persiflage, the station says it needs the dosh to pay for staffing and maintenance of the heavily used facilities.

And I must say that when I was last there, about a month ago, the staff were helpful and courteous in directing nearly everybody except smug, smarty-pants regulars to the inconspicuous slot in the turnstile where you had to pop in your pennies for the pee tax.

I say pennies and, at the time, it was 30 of these, which I thought outrageous enough. Seeing the rate displayed at the entrance, I had to buy chocolate to get the correct change.

Of course, it transpired the lavatorial suite had a change machine on the premises anyway. Why must the gods mock me so?

Ironically, too, I was in Glasgow for a conference that was partly about redistributing wealth. But this was taking matters too far. I was redistributing my wealth down the pan.

As for the station's argument about paying the workers, take it out of the salary of somebody at the top. They won't notice. I don't even care if they work for the railways. Pick a fat cat at random.

That's me: a right socialist, ken? For, as I understand it, the socialists believe that the best things in life should be free: museums, libraries, art galleries, public cludgies.

The first three usually are. And at least our public parks remain free, though I hope I'm not putting ideas into the head of some evil Thatcherite poltroon out there. In a week in which Glasgow's parks won a clutch of Green Flags, courtesy of environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, we must be grateful that the dear green places haven't yet become expensive green places.

True, I might consider forking out 5p to pay for a parkie employed to keep out cyclists and other neds, not least these dog-walkers with the daft, ball-throwing sticks. But, no, while I believe strongly in bringing back parkies, I believe also that the cost must be borne by the public purse, which should be filled with the illicit roubles robbed from us in the first place by the rich.

Returning to the matter in hand, so to speak, if we must pay 40p to splash the porcelain, we men should have equal rights with women.

That means individual cubicles, instead of being short-changed with communal urinals at which we stand together like animals in a byre.

We should have right nice soap instead of yon skin-scouring stuff. Our hands should be dried by scented zephyrs. For 40p, we must ablute in luxury, with mirrors properly lit to make us look nice, and a small orchestra playing in the corner.

For 40p, they should throw in a haircut and a wee teddy bear as a memento of one's visit.

You can't put a price on a pee but, if we must pay a porcelain tax, at least give us our money's worth.

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