COULD you point us to the nearest loo, please? My little boy is dying for a wee.”

The mother, a first-time visitor, was in her early 20s, looking anxious; the boy, a blond-haired three-year-old, a pained expression confirming the situation. They had stepped off the park-and-ride bus alongside the ever-shrinking Westgate Centre.

“A man told us there was a lavatory here,” she said. Anyone who knows the city centre will tell you that public conveniences are as hard to come by as free parking spots. Yes, there had been one in the Westgate centre; not long ago there were two, but not any more. I tried to visualise which was the nearer – the bus station in George Street or the Covered Market. Of course, they could go to a sympathetic café and plead emergency...

Suddenly the lad let go of his mother’s hand and ran – only a few feet – to where there was a bend in the wall forming a small nook. He pressed himself into the corner and – you can guess the rest.

I applauded the lad for his quick thinking. Mum was embarrassed; he is her first child and little girls tend not to take such action in public. I assured her he was not first and would not be the last.

I’m also confident that not only children resort to this when the pubs empty.

Perhaps the city could use some of its much-guarded reserves...

SEEING an elderly woman fall heavily over a badly set paving stone in Cornmarket Street was no reason to rejoice. But to witness the prompt action of four young people – the oldest no more than 15 – was something special.

Within seconds they surrounded her, asked if she was all right – one of the girls knelt alongside and announced she was a trained First Aider – before gently lifting her to her feet, gathering bags and shopping and depositing her on a seat borrowed from a nearby shop.

Older people offered advice but the two boys and two girls assured everyone they would look after things and see she got home safely.

“It could have been my grandma,” said one of the lads as he gently dusted down her coat.

I BEGAN to think I’d never again see jeans without torn knees. When I did – in Radcliffe Square, worn by half a dozen oriental visitors – I casually mentioned this to former policeman Clem, a latter day fashion dude never seen with a hair out of place.

“This is fashion,” he said. “Stressed jeans are viral. We saw lots in African countries last year.”

But in Africa was it fashion – or poverty?