Spending a British Currency Unit, was: Re: Brunch (1896); Dime (1995)---(Question)

James Mullan mailinglist at JIMMYMULLAN.COM
Sat Feb 28 22:18:41 UTC 2004

At 16:38 2/28/04, James A. Landau wrote, in "Re: Brunch (1896); Dime

>About 1980 an Englishwoman told me that in England pay toilets (whatever they
>are called) cost a shilling, and therefore "I have to spend a shillng" meant
>"I have to go to the bathroom".

High-priced relief, indeed. However, by 1980, British currency had been
decimalised, from the old £1=250 pence=20shillings, to £1=100p (the unit
being referred to in daily usage as a "pee"), and the shilling was no more,
being then equal to 5p ("five pee").
Whilst there might have been inflation in the actual cost of use of "public
toilets" as they are known in the UK, the expression was, in fact: "to
spend a penny", and this term remains in usage today.

It also gave rise to the old toilet wall rhyme:
Here I sit, broken hearted
paid a penny, only farted.


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