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ROH Ladies lavatories


AnneMarriott
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On Tuesday I was dismayed to find the main ground floor ladies' lavatories in a worse state than usual.  One door had a broken lock (not at all unusual), two taps had no handles, there was no liquid soap in any of the dispensers and there were no paper towels in any dispensers either except for the two where there is a large wall mirror but no handbasin..  So having attempted to pee with my foot against the door to stop any unwanted incursions, I then had to find a basin at which to wash my hands (without soap) and walk around until I could locate a paper towel, disturbing the women doing their hair and makeup. I caught the eye of another woman who shrugged and we shared a "Can this be the Royal Opera House?" moment. I suppose I should be grateful that there was at least paper in the unlockable cubicle.  But goodness knows what any foreign visitors make of it all.

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The lack of paper towels is a long-standing problem, not helped, I suspect, by the doubtful economy measure of supplying much smaller towels (I think they're now approximately square rather than rectangular, and to judge by the holders they must be a good inch narrower than they used to be).  I know I regularly have to use 3 now if I actually want to get my hands dry, and I've noticed similar behaviour from other patrons (we often comment on it - I'm not really standing there counting everybody else's towel use :) ), so that probably means that the towels are being used up faster than before.  Probably the same applies to the now-minute pieces of loo roll (approximately 3 x 4 inches, I reckon - and again you can see the difference in width between the rollers and the holders), except that the supply of that seems to be perfectly adequate.  The soap problem is also particularly acute in the Linbury toilets, where I frequently struggle to find any dispenser which is actually dispensing.

 

OTOH, the missing taps and locks is clearly a maintenance issue, rather than just a restocking one.

 

I should say that the above are not generally problems I find with the amphi toilets.  Perhaps the demand is less high up there.  What I did note, some time ago, when for some reason, perhaps lateness, I was in the downstairs toilets during a performance, was that the towel holders hadn't been topped up since the interval/start of the performance.

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It has been some time since I have been to the ROH.  I am amazed they are still relying on paper towels, how very old fashioned, I thought they were being phased out everywhere in favour of hot air hand dryers.  . 

 

I am astonished, tell them to get some of the Dyson Airblades immediately!  They might be expensive to install, but the money they save on paper towels should balance this out in the long run.

 

Sadly, not filling soap dispensers seems to be the norm everywhere now.  One of the public toilets at Birmingham NEC only had one soap dispenser with anything in it when I went there last week. 

 

It did, however, have something I have not seen for a long time in London - the old fashioned, blue and white striped towel holder that you yank to get a clean piece of dry towel.  And as usual, the roll had come to an end, so that I was trying to dry my soapless hands on a nasty, damp piece of cloth.  Yuk.  Paper towels, however small, are a big improvement on that. 

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On the question of paper towels versus hot air hand dryers, I prefer paper towels.  I don't care for the noise or the sensation of the hot air kind, not the queues mentioned by MAB.  I remember my father once suggesting that an addition be made to the instructions for use of hot air dryers:

 

1.  Shake excess moisture from hands

2.  Rub hands gently in hot air stream.

 

His addition was:  3.  Wipe hands on trousers or tie.

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Well, broadening out this discussion a bit, the 'service' at the Coliseum has sometimes left a lot to be desired eg programmes sold without cast sheets, being called 'a liar' by a programme seller (I complained about that) and milk which has gone off (and there was no more milk and so I couldn't have a cup of coffee and neither did the member of staff make any attempt to get any more). The stair carpets sometimes have bits on them and there have been occasions when some of the soap dispensers have been empty.

 

I agree that hand driers would probably not cope with the number of visitors to the ladies loos. 

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On the question of paper towels versus hot air hand dryers, I prefer paper towels.  I don't care for the noise or the sensation of the hot air kind, not the queues mentioned by MAB. 

 

And have a look at your hands next time you put them in an Airblade.  It's not a pretty sight.  I can't work out if that applies to younger women too or not.

 

I struggle with the concept that the ROH ladies loos were designed, full stop. Likewise the cloakroom area.

 

There's nothing much wrong with the cloakroom area which wouldn't be put right if all those people who insist on congregating in the area to put their coats on, thereby blocking it for everyone who's trying to leave, just applied a bit of common sense and moved out of the way.

 

And talking of common sense, don't get me started on all the people at the Coliseum who don't seem to be able to cope with the concept that after you've turned the water on you need to turn it off again. :(

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And have a look at your hands next time you put them in an Airblade.  It's not a pretty sight.  I can't work out if that applies to younger women too or not.

 

. :(

Well it certainly applies to me, Alison - and thank you for letting me know that I'm not alone.  I've never thought to glance at a younger woman's hands - perhaps next time...

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Well, broadening out this discussion a bit, the 'service' at the Coliseum has sometimes left a lot to be desired eg programmes sold without cast sheets, being called 'a liar' by a programme seller (I complained about that) and milk which has gone off (and there was no more milk and so I couldn't have a cup of coffee and neither did the member of staff make any attempt to get any more). The stair carpets sometimes have bits on them and there have been occasions when some of the soap dispensers have been empty.

 

I agree that hand driers would probably not cope with the number of visitors to the ladies loos.

 

No doubt the installation of hand dryers and the ensuing queues would result in even more ladies using the Disabled loo, because it's "quicker". It happens more at the Coli than at the ROH, possibly because people at the Coli have to actually go downstairs otherwise. It's infuriating when you are disabled and in a good deal of pain, queuing outside the disabled loo only to see an able-bodied lady walk briskly out - often with an insincere "sorry".

 

Interestingly the programme seller at our last visit to the Coli was visibly harassed and really very stroppy. She was waiting for more programmes to come up from downstairs, but instead of apologising to the queuing customers, she just stood there tutting and muttering to herself. Obviously having a bad day.....

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No doubt the installation of hand dryers and the ensuing queues would result in even more ladies using the Disabled loo, because it's "quicker". It happens more at the Coli than at the ROH, possibly because people at the Coli have to actually go downstairs otherwise. It's infuriating when you are disabled and in a good deal of pain, queuing outside the disabled loo only to see an able-bodied lady walk briskly out - often with an insincere "sorry".

.

 

Must indeed be very annoying when this happens.

 

Just a thought as well for those many people who don't outwardly appear disabled but have medical conditions that make it very difficult to use a regular toilet. On a much-needed break to go the theatre, it can be devastating for these people to get angry stares or worse after emerging from the disabled toilet.  (Google 'invisible disabilities' for more info about this serious problem, and 'Invisible Disabilities Week' which ended yesterday).

 

Yaffa

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Must indeed be very annoying when this happens.

 

Just a thought as well for those many people who don't outwardly appear disabled but have medical conditions that make it very difficult to use a regular toilet. On a much-needed break to go the theatre, it can be devastating for these people to get angry stares or worse after emerging from the disabled toilet.  (Google 'invisible disabilities' for more info about this serious problem, and 'Invisible Disabilities Week' which ended yesterday).

 

Yaffa

 

Yes indeed Yaffa, it is impossible to know if someone has an invisible disability.

 

However, I have often stood in the queue at the Lowry where the ladies' disabled toilet is outside the main ladies and often visible to the queue and have heard people say "oh it's vacant, I'll use it".  I always glare at them when they come out!

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Broadening the topic a bit - have the automatic toilets come to the UK?  These do present some unique problems best left to the imagination.

 

The automatic water taps can be rather tempermental which has one waving hands about in front of the "eye" trying to attract the attention of an inanimate object.

 

One restaurant had the bright idea  of a timed light in the restroom/loo.  I was the only one in there when the timer decided it had been on too long and the light went out leaving me totally in the dark (no windows) in an unfamiliar maze of cubicles, sinks, - having to run one  hand around walls as I tried to remember where the exit door was among a whole host of doors.  The last thing I want to do is run my hands along the walls of a public restroom!!!

 

Some of this "green" thinking needs to be rethought.

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I meant the automatic toilet flushing ....it decides when the user is finsihed and then automatically flushes - has that arrived in the UK?

Yes, I've seen them in several places and also hate them. They usually decide that I've finished when I've actually just started, which is bad enough...But when I've actually finished, I have to prance around the cubicle (now here's where the ballet training comes in useful) trying to fathom out where the sensor is, and telling the frustrated people in the queue that I'll be out in a minute....

Yaffa 

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Must indeed be very annoying when this happens.

 

Just a thought as well for those many people who don't outwardly appear disabled but have medical conditions that make it very difficult to use a regular toilet. On a much-needed break to go the theatre, it can be devastating for these people to get angry stares or worse after emerging from the disabled toilet.  (Google 'invisible disabilities' for more info about this serious problem, and 'Invisible Disabilities Week' which ended yesterday).

 

Yaffa

Oh gosh, I couldn't agree more, Yaffa. Part of my disability is chronic pain which veers between severe and literally crippling, but it's not always visible, so I would never actually say anything out loud or glare at anyone because I've been on the receiving end of dirty looks enough times - either when we pull into a disabled parking bay and people can only see my top half (apparently only elderly people are allowed to be disabled) or when people can't see my crutches or walking stick. In fact twice, I've exited a disabled loo and had people say "you're not disabled" just because they haven't seen my crutches! It's very upsetting and infuriating when people doubt your disability.

 

However, when people see the queue at the ladies' loos and blatantly say "I'm going to nip into the disabled loo, it's empty", thereby making a disabled person stand outside and queue, that really upsets me. And that happens a LOT, unfortunately.

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It does happen a lot yes and unfortunately when people rush to the toilets in an interval and find a queue for the ladies and an empty disabled toilet, it does not occur to them that perhaps it takes a disabled person longer to reach the toilets in the first place.  I confess I sometimes use the disabled but that is when I am assisting my disabled mother as otherwise she has to wait too long for me to come and help her back to her seat. 

 

re toilets being in such a state - when you have all the supermarkets, restaurants etc with charts showing the toilets being checked every hour it is surprising a theatre can get away without doing the same.

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I meant the automatic toilet flushing ....it decides when the user is finsihed and then automatically flushes - has that arrived in the UK?

Certainly had in France sometime last century - as had the automatic lights-out feature. I swear the latter was designed on the basis of optimum time for men, not women! I initially thought it was someone outside playing a joke. 

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I think that in places like the crowded ROH, people should  realise that disabled toilets might well be needed fast.

 

But in quieter places, I've often seen genuine confusion about whether disabled toilets are like disabled parking places (i.e. reserved exclusively for people with disabilities and their carers) - or more like priority seating for disabled people in public transport. (where anyone can sit, but able-bodied people are expected to give up their seat if a disabled person comes along). Often owners of small businesses (e.g. a cafe with two loos) say quite clearly that they expect able-bodied people to use the disabled toilet, that they installed it to help the small percentage of their customers who might need it occasionally, but that it's better on the plumbing when the toilets are used more evenly, rather than the regular toilet being used 300 times a day and the disabled toilet 10 times.

 

I wouldn't normally use a disabled toilet. But after going through security in some airports, I pop into the disabled toilet to fill my water bottle from the cold tap, rather than pay outrageous prices for a departure lounge drink or fill my bottle with the lukewarm water from the sinks next to the regular toilets. I generally leave the door open when I do this, so that people can see what I'm doing and that I'll be out in a few seconds. Never had any problems with this. A bit more tricky is when I have lots of suitcases. Businesses (particularly airports) often prefer you to take them in to the disabled toilet, rather than leave them outside a regular toilet, creating a security scare/theft risk. If there's not someone around to officially ok this, I'll sometimes still do it if the area is quiet e.g when I'm spending the night at an airport. In such cases, I've also been known to take a full-body wash in the disabled toilets, but I do it as quickly as possible, with peeks out of the door to check if anyone might be waiting.   

 

Yaffa

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Goodness, I had no idea that so many people don't like using hot air driers.  I agree that the older ones were terrible, but where the quick drying ones have been installed, it really does make it 10 seconds per person to get completely dry hands.  Probably the same time as it takes to locate a filled paper towel dispenser, dry your hands, and then find somewhere to drop the used paper.  I love them!

 

Regarding the use of disabled toilets, I was at a National Trust tea room recently, waiting my turn in the Ladies, which had only two cubicles.  A lady came in  with a toddler and a small baby.  She found that the baby changing table  in there pulled down outside one of the cubicles, thereby blocking it so that no-one else could use it.  She also was struggling with her toddler, who was crying and trying to open or crawl under the cubicle doors.  The distressed mother was trying to control both of them, so she came out and went in the disabled loo instead.

 

In the meantime, a woman came in pushing a teenager in a wheelchair, and saw this clearly able bodied woman go in with her children.  She started banging on the door and shouting that the other woman was a disgrace, her disabled daughter was the only one entitled to use it, the other woman should come out immediately, she would get her banned from NT properties....she was practically foaming at the mouth. 

 

In the end, one of the NT workers told her to stop as it was upsetting the children inside.  It was all very unpleasant indeed, and I felt very sorry for the girl in the wheelchair, who was clearly horribly embarrassed by the whole thing.   In fact, I think her mother was completely wrong, and the other woman had a perfect right to use the facilities under those circumstances.  

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If it's reserved for disabled use only, then wouldn't it be operable by a RADAR key?

 

I do think it depends very much on the situation: one of my local Sainsburys only has a disabled loo, so you have to use it or nothing.  And for the ROH balcony ones you can normally spot if there's anyone using a wheelchair or crutches or whatever, which gives you an indication - there often isn't.  (And what if a non-disabled person has an emergency of sorts?  You wouldn't expect them to run up a couple of flights of stairs if, say, they were about to be sick.)  And then of course there's the "invisible disability" business again - often the only ground-floor toilet in a restaurant is the disabled one, and if you can't manage stairs well you should of course use it, but giving way to any "properly" disabled person whose need is greater.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Haha you guys made a difference! They did in fact fix it. Last Wednesday when (foreign-visitor-me) got there I was indeed dismayed by broken taps and no soap. By Friday there standalone soap dispensers, by Saturday there were new handles and freely flowing soap! (and some extra dispensers just in case.)

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Haha you guys made a difference! They did in fact fix it. Last Wednesday when (foreign-visitor-me) got there I was indeed dismayed by broken taps and no soap. By Friday there standalone soap dispensers, by Saturday there were new handles and freely flowing soap! (and some extra dispensers just in case.)

Hurrah! Thanks for the update.  In fairness I should point out that there were some freestanding soap dispensers some time ago - but they soon disappeared.  Could they have been filched, I ask myself.  Anyhow, I hope to enjoy the improved facilities on Friday ...

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I'd like to see hand cream dispensers too, they used to have them at Glyndebourne, but have sadly stopped them, but then Glyndebourne doesn't have a subsidy and no doubt needs to economize. I imagine with all their re-building plans the ROH is rolling in dosh, so a few bottles of hand cream wouldn't come amiss.

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I'd like to see hand cream dispensers too, they used to have them at Glyndebourne, but have sadly stopped them, but then Glyndebourne doesn't have a subsidy and no doubt needs to economize. I imagine with all their re-building plans the ROH is rolling in dosh, so a few bottles of hand cream wouldn't come amiss.

 

As a tax payer and a benefactor, I'd much rather the ROH didn't squander its money on hand cream.

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