I’m on Great Castle Street just round the corner from Oxford Circus and I find myself in the rather unusual position of pretending that I urgently need to find a toilet. Having spent much of the year actually needing to find toilets urgently, it’s a role I think I can just about pull off. So there I am, method acting in central London with Gielgudian aplomb. I’m wringing my hands dramatically, biting my fist, criss-crossing my legs, hoppety-hopping from one end of the street to the other like a daddy longlegs. Hurrying office workers hunch further over their steaming coffee cups to avoid eye contact. A couple of secretaries link arms and cross to the other side of the road. A crowd of concerned faces appear alongside the shiny Christmas baubles in the window of Café Lido. Perhaps my performance is erring more towards ‘lunatic Macbeth’ than ‘man looking for loo’. Nonetheless I remain in character and unsheathe my mobile phone in theatrical fashion. Exercising poise and technique rarely seen in British acting, I deftly text ‘toilet’ to 80097. I fall still and wait. Beep-beep. Hark, a reply.
Sorry, we cannot locate your current position. You have not been charged for this reply.
That wasn’t in the script. I reread the message and give the screen a withering Oliver Hardy look. This new toilet locating service I’m trying out, or SatLav as it has been dubbed, is supposed to locate the texter and text back directions to the nearest public toilet anywhere in Westminster. But in this instance it appears they can’t. Looks like they're having teething troubles. So it’s fortunate that today is just a dress rehearsal and I’m only pretending that I desperately need the loo. Hopefully by the time I come to use SatLav for real, they’ll have got their act together.