I went to have a cuppa with my friend The Big Cheese. He’s always late so being punctual gave me ample time to navigate the “patrons only” use of the loo rule, before I became a patron.

The deal is that there is a code on your till receipt that is the code for the loo. I didn’t yet have a till receipt and was reluctant to stake my place at a table with my coat, just in case someone my size fancied that coat as much as me. So, at the counter I didn’t look much like a serious prospect but more of a chancer. Not to worry, the code, I was informed, was stuck to the door.

The code was indeed stuck to the door, just above the keypad. Both were impenetrable. Back to the counter, still wearing my coat. I explained my predicament. It gets dull after a while, to have to keep saying that you cannot see to do such and such and need a spot of help. The incredulous server looked puzzled. “You can see. The code is on the door,” she said.

“I know it’s on the door,” I laboured while crossing my legs. “I just can’t read it because I cannot see it. The problem is me.  I cannot see. Can you help me?”

“No,” she said. “The code is on the door. You can see it.”

The Big Cheese ambled in. “Never mind,” I said. “My friend is here. He can do it.”

“Take me to the lavatory,” I demanded.

“Hello to you too,” he said.

“Can you operate the code for the loo?”

He punched in the numbers.  There was a bit of muttering because he couldn’t get it to work either.

“You don’t need the code. It’s open. You just need to turn the handle,” said a passing member of “the team”.  

For a man who is all teched up and who once gave me a laboured lesson on how to turn the telly on, this was a humiliation. He muttered a bit more and went to buy the tea.

Now all I had to do was work out how to lock the door. If all else failed I could ask the Big Cheese to stand guard. His powers of deduction might have also been able to explain why there was soap coming out of the paper dispenser and no paper in the soap dispenser. Luckily I am always prepared for this eventuality but have recently had to adopt new tactics since I have started to worry about my personal #wet wipe contribution to the #fatberge blocking London’s sewers.

For those who like to be prepared for the mysteries of public loos, and the paucity of resources they offer, and who have not yet embraced the #ecco friendly wet wipe, help is at hand. Your mobile phone can take the strain.

While the mobile might seem an unlikely salvation in these kind of emergencies, it just might lend a helping hand.

#TapTapSee is an app that takes a pic and then describes what’s in the photo. Other apps are available (#CamFind and #Talking Google) but that’s the one I’ve got. The idea is that it compares what’s in the photo with a data base of known objects.  Soap dispensers and loo paper should be amongst its library.

Now this is all well and good if you do tech, but I still need a technology big Cheese to tell me how to work the damn thing. It’s a great idea, but on balance I’m prepared to put up with the muttering of friends, and the strain on family relationships, my technological shortcomings have caused.