Letter: Loo behaviour

January 26, 2001

Miles Russell writes that the increasing privatisation of bodily functions "can be linked to higher degrees of civilisation" ("Studying the passed", Research, THES, January 12).

How "civilised" is it when most town centres are almost devoid of free public conveniences? In their place we get 10p-a-go concrete cubicles or a spruced-up formerly free WC costing 20p. Once the poor and unemployed could rely on McDonald's but, following their restaurants in France and the United States, they are making their UK loos inaccessible to all but those who buy a burger.

It may sound trivial but not to someone on £50 a week benefits or with several children in tow. Is this a form of social exclusion for the poor from the town centres?

Russell writes that "our stools could help those in the future interested in how healthy we were". Perhaps when the Benefit Office hands out constipation-inducing pills, they will tell future generations of our social health.

Hillary Shaw
School of Geography
University of Leeds

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