DETAILS: Performance Enhancers

Item: the pills they sell in pub toilets that definitely aren’t Viagra.

The other week in Munich with friends I mentioned how funny I found the various ‘blue pills’ they sell in gents toilets alongside condoms and other useful items such as a novelty penises that expand when you put them in water. The women in the group were astonished by this revelation, as was Boak when I mentioned it to her the other day.

So, because this leads me to believe other people may not know about this either, here’s an example:

Solid Gold vending machine in a pub toilet.This one is unusual in that it doesn’t have ‘blue’ in its name but otherwise the characteristics are typical:

  1. A vague suggestion of potency (extra strong) without any indication of what the active ingredient might be, if any. A quick search online suggests these ones are ‘herbal’ which leads me to conclude that you might as well eat a vegetable stock cube.
  2. Some iconography of ‘adultness’ — in this case, a simple nod to the BBFC’s 18 certificate logo, although it’s often an elaborate illustration of a ghostly blue naked woman.
  3. And a word that hints at what it is supposed to do to your physique without being open to challenge under Trade Descriptions — solid, if you catch my drift, nudge nudge, know what I mean?

Who buys these? The condoms I can understand but non-specific pills that might do… something? Then again, perhaps someone gullible enough to spend their cash on ‘medicine’ in a pub bog is also highly susceptible to the placebo effect.

Off to the Bog

Trafalgar toilet

No toilets deserve to be described as ‘the bog’ more than those you find in British pubs.

Portrait of a pub toilet

At its worst: chipped tiles, damp chipboard partitions and wet floors; blinking fluorescent light; a toilet seat leaning against the wall, a cubicle door without a bolt, no toilet roll. Hasn’t that bit of chewing gum been in the urinal, next to the disintegrating cigarette end, for the last two weeks? The floor is wet. A piece of paper on the wall says, mockingly: “These toilets are inspected regularly.” Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

The ladies have it good

Bailey emerges from ‘the gents’ with a horrified look on his face, hands dripping wet: “Ugh. That was horrible. No soap, hand-drier busted. Need to throw these shoes away. How were the ladies?” Boak looks puzzled. “Lovely, actually. Really beautifully decorated, and clean… wow! I could see my face reflected in the tiles. And feel how soft my hands are — free balm!”

Nice pubs can have horrible bogs, and vice versa

We’ve been in posh pubs whose toilets are nonetheless iredeemably bad, as if they’d spent every penny on ‘limited edition art prints’ and had to cut back on soap and cleaning products as a result. They know that a code of silence exists: no-one wants to talk about the toilets over their rustic duck pate.

Seriously, no soap? What the…?

We don’t expect all pubs to have the palacial facilities of a Wetherspoons, or bar staff to spend their whole shift mopping up wee. We can deal with no locks on the cubicles (lean against the door, loud whistling… there are ways) and all the other indignities. But we must have soap. A bar of coal tar would do.

All we want, truly, is to be able to share a bag of crisps with our friends with a clear conscience.

Picture from Flickr Creative Commons. This post is our contribution to Pub Bog Day 2012.