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You can’t take that camera in there mate!

with 12 comments

Victorian toiletsA strange but true story of nanny state council officials.

I was in Newcastle a few days ago, took the children with me, had a good walk around some of the older parts of the city centre before buying what we intended to in the first place. We quite enjoyed ourselves as I showed off my local knowledge of the history of the older places, Plummer’s Tower, the Black Gate, Pandon Bank, the City Wall etc. and then there was my favourite parts of Grainger Town.

Newcastle’s Grainger Market may not have the old magic these days, as the number of game butchers and fishmongers appears to have declined, but it is still worth a visit and one can spend literally hours thumbing through the pages of books at a particular stall well renowned for their stock of local titles and used bargains, and after filling your bag you can wander round the corner and stock up on your favourite types of freshly roasted coffee beans then take a sit down and relax at one of the market cafes. As a means of enjoying an afternoon out I’d choose this any time rather than competing against the crowds in the over heated and poorly lit Eldon Square shopping centre, and thankfully the Grainger Market even has staffed toilets.

There is something which is quirky and wholesome about some Victorian toilets with their immaculate ceramic tiles and highly polished copper and brass fittings, and rather like the loving care bestowed upon the toilets in South Shields Market Place the air is suffused with a delicate mixture of tones befitting of the place – blueit toilet blocks and petunia and geraniums, it’s amazing how these places support such gardening skills but they do, and occasionally you may find an impromptu art exhibition as the attendant has decorated the place with his/her favourite pieces.

I’d almost forgotten that my camera was slung over my shoulder as I entered the place, lens capped, all switched off, battery saving time……

“You can’t take that camera in there mate!”

“I beg your pardon”

“You’ll have to hand it to me or leave it with the kids while you go in”

“What on earth for?”

“Are you for real sir?”

“Yes, I’m hardly likely to start snapping away at some bloke taking a leak am I?”

“Listen mate, if I let you take that in there you could end up in serious trouble”

“Like what trouble, it’s not unlawful to carry your possessions around these days is it?”

“Mate I get druggies, queers, drunks, yobs from the pub round the corner and all sorts of freaks using this place, if they see a bloke with a camera they could easily kick off and have a go at you”

“Look, are you operating a regulation or rule of some sort?”

“I’m just doing my job, the City Council don’t want people to get themselves into trouble”

“Oh, the City Council, I see,……and is this some sort of rule they’ve handed down?”

“I’m just trying to look after you, now take the camera off until you come out”

“Look I understand, you don’t make the rules, you’re only doing your job, doing what you are told to do, but surely if I want to take the risk of lawfully carrying a camera about, and someone attacks me because of that, who is to blame for my injuries, my attacker or myself?”

“Hey, you don’t understand, give the camera to the bairns until you come out, if you get yourself hurt I’ll get into trouble then you’ll try and blame me for not warning you”

“Oh absolute nonsense, if I get hurt then I call the police and someone gets arrested for assault, that’s the way it works”

“You’re asking for trouble if you go in there with that over your shoulder, you just don’t seem to understand, it’s like a red rag to a bull for some of them”

By now I’m starting to get more desperate to use the facilities.

“Listen mate, your nannying City Council is forcing me to alter my way of life and dictate and regulate what I carry about my person every time that I’d like to use their toilets, they’ve decided to pick on the innocent rather than have a go at the thugs, drunks, and druggies that should be kept out of here, right? Once again the majority of us have to alter our way of life because of the activities of a small minority”

“No it’s not like that, it’s for your own good”

“Suppose I hand this camera over to you or my daughter, and when I come out I find it’s been stolen by a junky looking to raise the cash for the next fix, can I sue you and the council?”

“It’ll be all right, I’ll look after her”


Reluctantly I left the camera with both children, Mr. Attendant wasn’t going to let me in otherwise, and blow me the place was empty!

On the way out I thanked him for “looking after me”, advised him that Newcastle City Council are a bunch of nannying idiots who need to grow up, and that they need to tell their attendants to report any unlawful misdemeanours to the police, and to stop trying to control the innocent.

I then told him that the phone in my pocket has a built in 5 Mp camera!


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Written by curly

August 11, 2009 at 10:01 am

12 Responses

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  1. That is ridiculous!

    David Potts

    August 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm

  2. Have a read at what it says about ‘breach of the peace’ in Laporte, R (on the application of ) v. Chief Constable of Gloucestershire [2006] UKHL 55 at para 29.


    August 12, 2009 at 8:02 am

  3. I take your point, but assume therefore that to prevent a possible breach of the peace every entrant to a public toilet in Newcastle should now have to empty their pockets to provide evidence that they are not carrying a mobile phone capable of taking pictures.

    One must also consider that the carrying of a camera, lens capped, switched off, over the shoulder, should not ordinarily be a causus belli that leads to a possible breach of the peace. Is there a legal precedent, (this is not Ireland and a camera is not an orange lily)?


    August 12, 2009 at 10:09 am

  4. Frankly I can’t believe how naive and obtuse you’ve been. You should be grateful that the attendant wasn’t more explicit in his explanation, particularly in front of your children.


    August 12, 2009 at 5:57 pm

  5. He’s carrying a camera not a pick axe handle you twit, but nobody seems concerned at the cameras on phones hidden in pockets, and I dare say women wont face the same treatment.

    Are there no drunken drug addicted females around Newcastle then?

    Tom Naisby

    August 12, 2009 at 8:14 pm

  6. In the real world Tom, Newcastle city centre can be a dangerous place and particularly parts of Grainger town are a meeting point for some more ‘eccentric’ citizens. The attendant’s intervention was practical.


    August 13, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    • Rossinisbird, some of us like to think that we are big enough and old enough to make our decisions about our personal safety. It’s not as though one goes into a public convenience with a huge camera held to the eye, we aren’t that stupid. Likelihood is, if I were left alone, the camera would have been placed safely on the floor where it was unlikely to cause offence to anyone.

      Besides I don’t care for folks telling me what’s right for me and playing “nanny” on my behalf, there are enough laws, regulations, rules, and guidelines to start with – and what if I had no SLR camera with me? I suppose I could start a riot with a camera phone easily concealed in the pocket right?

      Just when, oh when, will the quiet innocent majority of this country be left alone to live their lives without having their behaviour conditioned and dictated to by the vociferous minority?


      August 13, 2009 at 8:03 pm

  7. Don’t often agree with you Curly but this has to be taking political correctness to the N’th degree.My mother used to say we were big enough and ugly enough to decide for ourselves ( a bit of a variation on your theme).To tell the truth I hate Public Lavatories. However,one would believe it would be one of the last places one would be chastised. But it seems that I’m being far to naive for my own good.C’est la vie! Get a life Rossinisbird.

    mrs. doasyouwouldbedoneby

    August 14, 2009 at 1:30 am

  8. Thank you for the mental imagery Curly, anytime I’m feeling down I’ll just think of you striding into one of Tyneside’s most notorious cottaging venues with a camera slung around your neck. You could have gone in with a camera and come out with a pearl necklace!


    August 14, 2009 at 9:35 am

  9. Curly, firstly congratulations on your exceptional memory, recalling a conversation word for word like that is exceptional.

    Secondly get a life what a waste of time, energy and effort writing that diatribe!


    August 14, 2009 at 12:25 pm

  10. What sort of life Bert, a normal one, or one decided by someone else on my behalf?


    August 14, 2009 at 1:25 pm

  11. Hey I’ve referenced this article on my blog.


    September 6, 2009 at 12:46 pm

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