Shock! Horror! Crap! George Orwell's 1984 is now at a pub near you. But is pub chain J D Wetherspoon taking the piss? TheBigRetort investigates.
Customers caught short whilst visiting a pub toilet in Brockley, South-east London may be excused if they have the strange sensation of being 'watched' as they go about their (once usually private) business. And it is not paranoia. Now, as they glance up at the ceiling they will realise the astonishing truth, then wet themselves. For, at the urinals, John Thomas in hand, there it is, on the ceiling, watching... a camera.
Surely not we hear you say... but it's yes.
We immediately visited the offending pub and confirmed our worst fears, following which we spoke to a Wetherspoon's spokesman. The following is not for the reader with a nervous disposition, a full bladder, or for anyone who has had a night on the old Vindaloo.
Surveillance report of society gone mad. Surveillance report of society gone mad. Surveillance...The pub... the Brockley Barge, London SE4. The location... the male toilet. The time... now.
"Most CCTV in Wetherspoons pubs are part of the licence... We believe that cameras are something that customers feel safer with," the Wetherspoon's spokesman confided.
What... in the loo?
"They are not pointed at the urinals. They are only pointed at washbasins."
"Yeah. If any customer made enquiries, they would be told, quite rightly, that they only point at handbasins."
(He paused.) "So that people feel safer."
So why isn't there a camera in the ladies loo too?
"Isn't there...? Well, I don't know about that particular pub... but if there isn't it's because the decision is made by the manager."
[So the manager only likes looking at the boys...?] Who looks at them?
"They're not looked at by members of staff. The only people who would have it (the footage) is the police. There are other pubs where this is the case. We're quite open about them. They are only there so that the police can watch."
How long are the images kept?
"I'm not sure."
[So there you have it... the police are the only ones allowed to watch. Whilst the images in the bar and outside the pub can be seen on a monitor the loo images are not shown to the general public. That makes it okay then.]But are they also focused on the urinal, or, worse still... the loo? (After all it's impossible to say where they are pointed.) Couldn't shit be going on under the watchful of the law?
"At the washbasins," J D spokesperson was eager to assure.
"So that they can see what's going on."
Err, well, what can 'they'.... see... at the washbasin?
"Things." (Presumably the washing of hands ceremony that follows visits to the loo.)
But what if any individual is hellbent in dealing with shit - and that kind of thing - and knows that the camera is only pointed at the washbasin, and that the images won't be viewed until, possibly, much later by the Peelice - Sorry we meant 'police' - wouldn't they go into the cubicles, or, dare we suggest, stand at the urinals and, err, pretend?
"It, err... acts as a... deterrent."
[And that's certainly true. It's the last time we spend a penny with JD Wetherspoon.]