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Sensory memory #3: Saturdays, public toilets and The Unpleasant Incident in M&S.

On some Saturdays in the late 70s and warly 80s, Mrs Russell (see previous post) would take me to town. Another reason Russy was bliss to hang out with was she did routines like a boss. Routines and sameness for most autistic people is a dream. You know what's going to happen, no surprises, relaxing loveliness. Smashing.

We'd get on the number 24 double decker (incidentally, Cardiff buses were the perfect shade of orange, my favourite colour). We'd sit upstairs in the top right seat. I can't remember what we'd do in town, but usually involved a visit to Cardiff Market, and always lunch in Howell's Department store. My lunch was a ham sandwich and orange squash. It was always quiet and dark and nice in there.

As a kid, I hated public toilets with a passion. My mum would go nuts if we were out as I'd have to be sometimes literally, forcibly, dragged into loos if she needed to go. I hated them so much. The smell would always make me retch, and I would try and hold my breath and run out as fast as possible. This also was true of the fish market end of Cardiff Market. Much to the amusement of my older brothers apparently. Mrs Russell and I would go into the loos in Howells, if we had to. They weren't so bad.

Unfortunately one particular Saturday we had to go to Marks & Spencer on an errand. It was the other end of town, and by the time we got there I needed a wee. I'm sure their toilets are pristine havens of cleanliness, but there was something about the loos there that made them The Worst. It wasn't a poo/wee thing, (although let's be fair, that's not going to help), it was something else additional that made it Really Bad.

So, one of my Worst Sensory Memories involved *having* to go into the toilets in M&S one one of my 'nice Saturdays' out with Russy.

The unfortunate post-script had poor Mrs Russell apologising effusively after I had been sick on a rack of suits in Menswear on the way out.

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