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Because I clean the lavatories,

I’m considered quite low grade;

In the last place on the list,

Overworked and underpaid.


Though down the pecking order,

At the thin end of the scale,

You rely upon my labours

With my brushes and my pail.


Do toffs and chief executives

Have to sanitise this mess?

I should get higher wages

Than the barons of the press.


I’m at the bottom of the heap

As I ply my thankless art,

But should I disappear a while,

This world would fall apart.

fairnessdirty jobs

◄ Musée des Beaux Arts (January 2024)

Queues ►


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Stephen Gospage

Thu 1st Feb 2024 08:05

I am very grateful for the continuing kind comments on my modest effort.
Clare - thank you for sharing your experience and liking the poem. And thanks to John C, New Shoes, MC and Uilleam for their support.
I am pleased to see all views shared in this blog, although it was a bit of a surprise to see Arthur Scargill's name appear.
The world doesn't stand still, of course. It is sad that many of the old public conveniences are gone but in those remaining the job has evolved. The bloke at Brussels Central Station now has to operate a digital payment system as well.

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kJ Walker

Wed 31st Jan 2024 17:22

I'm so tempted to get involved in this thread, as I have such strong feelings about trades unionists.
But as usual the comments are losing their relevance to the original post, so out of respect for Stephen I'll keep schtum.

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M.C. Newberry

Wed 31st Jan 2024 15:33

UoC - Ultimately, It should be about balance and respect.
A certain union leader is on record as trousering £145,000 P.A,
(that's 6 figures, remember?) whilst occupying a social housing
unit. Where is the balance? Where is the respect for the less
rewarded infinitely more needy?

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Wed 31st Jan 2024 09:54

...but whatabout that red herring over there?

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New Shoes

Wed 31st Jan 2024 05:22

"there's nothing on the top, but a bucket and a mop....." Nirvana

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 30th Jan 2024 21:49

UoC - I was being generous when I used the term "alleged".-
How much did Arthur Scargill get when he led what
eager revisionists surely won't link to what was the prelude to the fossil fuel danger to the climate that is being made so much of today? Union leaders can be the equivalent of the reviled press barons for their use of power and its effects against
the wider public affecting the latter's ensuing reduced opportunities and
travel to places of work, often on and for far less income than the likes
of over-reaching train and tube drivers today.
Finally, offers to their membership should not be kept from that membership for a decision. (news report today).

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Tue 30th Jan 2024 20:33

MC. Re: the “alleged” six figure income leaders of various unions”.

God forbid that you should ever end up in a wheelchair, but I take it you won’t be complaining then, when you arrive at the railway station to find ticket office, information office, and toilets closed, to “save money”, (as had been planned) at the same time as rail shareholder dividends are at 65% ?

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Tue 30th Jan 2024 20:13

I remember many years ago hearing that if a parent wanted to assess how good a school was, one should visit the toilets.

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John Coopey

Tue 30th Jan 2024 19:49

There is a story about a US President being conducted around Cape Kennedy (I guess it was then). After being shown all the high tech stuff and chatting to the managers and scientists he passed a bloke who's job was to clean the bogs.
"And what do you do here?" asked the Pres.
"Mr President, sir, I'm helping to put a man on the moon".

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Tue 30th Jan 2024 19:02

I love this! It’s something I have said for a long time - you can’t build a house without laying the foundations! I’ve cleaned many a bog in my time to put food on the table and I’d take that over some of the more ‘respectable’ positions I’ve held.
Thank you for this! ☺️☺️☺️

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 30th Jan 2024 17:19

Those who perform these jobs - and the local guy who pushes his street-cleaning cart and doggedly collects the smallest
bit of rubbish on his dustpan is a worthy example, deserve our
gratitude and respect, just like any other working person..
They are all contributing the necessary "oil" that lubricates a
smoothly working society. I clean my own toilet and retain
admiring memories of the (now lost) public conveniences
that gleamed like subterranean palaces, literally reflecting
the devoted care that was taken to keep them looking spotless
by their in-house attendants. Pride personnified in even the
most mundane setting. Certainly, they deserve a proper
living wage as long as they are not fed false expectations
by the six figure income leaders of various unions that
seek to exert control and are not always respectful of the word "pride" in today's upwardly mobile workforce and their various chosen workplaces.

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Stephen Gospage

Tue 30th Jan 2024 16:48

My thanks to Graham, Manish, Steve, Uilleam, Telboy, Tim and Kevin for the wonderful response to this poem, and to Greg and Nigel for the likes.
I respect the work that everyone does but I have long thought that those who do the least pleasant jobs should arguably be the best paid members of society. It is strange how we value different jobs. The pandemic showed how we rely on supposedly 'unskilled' people (cleaners, shop workers, delivery drivers) to keep society going.

Thanks for all the interesting comments. Cheeky rhymes aren't really me, Telboy. I did have an alternative third verse which ended 'It makes me want to spit' but I chickened out.

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Graham Sherwood

Tue 30th Jan 2024 14:14

it's a sobering thought that no matter how 'posh' a place might look, people always remember the state of the toilets!

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Tue 30th Jan 2024 14:04

With 'art' and 'apart' in the last verse of a toilet poem I think you did well to avoid the tempatation of one particular rhyming word!

Tim Higbee

Tue 30th Jan 2024 13:15

Couldn't be truer Stephen! Go to any public restroom and you wonder why anyone would look down their nose at those who clean the publics filth. Bless all workers who clean up after us and make us look like a civilized society.

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kJ Walker

Tue 30th Jan 2024 12:04

This is about toilet cleaners but is really about anyone doing the shitty jobs at the bottom of the pay scale.
They are the people who keep the nation going, and deserve more recognition.

Cheers Kevin

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Tue 30th Jan 2024 11:28

Excellently worded nail-on-the-head poem, Stephen.

The RMT and other unions have my full backing. An example of such inequity/iniquity is that between 2006 and 2022, train companies invested only 1% of the money spent on the railways, public and worker safety being thus compromised, with 65% going to shareholder dividends and bosses pay packets. The current system is a total scam. Public service, not private profit.
Nationalise now!

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Steve White

Tue 30th Jan 2024 08:09

Nicely done, Stephen.

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Manish Singh Rajput

Tue 30th Jan 2024 07:51

You've just put into words what I felt the other day when I watched three men cleaning the public lavatory. This needs to be widely read, and it's really commendable that you've written something from their perspective, Stephen. I salute you for this.
Thank you.

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Graham Sherwood

Tue 30th Jan 2024 07:46

No truer word Stephen. Bottom rung of the ladder and the most important of us all. What a clever piece!

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