I took a break from my first job, years ago, and joined a group of recent graduates on a trip to the USSR (as it then was). You couldn’t just wander around in those days. You had to have an Intourist minder constantly by your side. They were mainly dull and cautious creatures, but there was one sparkly woman who was about our age who regaled us with tales of the murkier moments of Intourist guiding.
There was one group, she giggled, who needed special treatment. The regional director had called the whole team into his office for a briefing. Up on the wall, he had tacked a large map of Leningrad (as it still was) marked with red dots. ‘This group has particular needs,’ he said. What could they be, they had all thought.) ‘And you will have to anticipate them.’ Picking up a long stick, he started pointing out the red dots. ‘It is a group of older people,’ he said. ‘These are the locations of all the public lavatories in Leningrad….Memorise them!’
Oh, how we laughed. Smug in our security of all of us being only 20-something.
Not so funny now, now that I am an older person…