Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Marsupials! Politeness! Hand Sanitizer!; or, Deconstructed Ranting; or, We're Fucked If We Can Find a Theme

It is important, in these dark times, to remember the things that bring light and joy: decent plumbing, handwashing, human rights, wine, babe parades. We reminisced recently, on our Facebook page, about that time when we realised that Father Ted is kind of a babe! The Jonny Babe Parade is obviously immensely fulfilling, but we reckon the more babes that are highlighted, the merrier!

The post in which we weirdly perv on poor Ted happens to contain an example of unwelcome creatures that infest Australian toilets. We are grateful that our friend Maureen took the opportunity of mentioning many more critters that lurk in the dunnies Down Under:
The Privy Counsel What a pity you forgot other unwanted guests in Australian toilets: frogs, gekkos, (little lizards with pads on their feet) snakes and cane toads appear with regularity in the north of Australia. As a young woman I shared toilets with many quokkas (marsupials) at Rottnest Island (just off the coast near Perth in Western Australia). Sadly for the quokkas, toilets moved inside the cottages where they can no longer go.
We never thought we'd find cause to regret the advent of indoor plumbing, but clearly a quokka would be a delightful companion to have in one's outhouse!

Speaking of outhouses, a very dear friend of ours was kind enough to take us along to this one, which is charmingly situated on an islet in lake Orsasjön.


How charming! And how reassuring to know that one can heed the call of nature in a hygienic manner when having one's barbecue in the middle of a lake.

On opening the door, one finds these beautiful prints featuring views of the lake.

How charming - everything you need! Except, wait. THERE IS NO HAND SANITIZER. WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU NOT PUT HAND SANITIZER IN AN OUTHOUSE YOU ANIMALS???
(According to a reliable source, if hand sanitizer - which consists of at least 60 per cent alcohol - was left here it would be drunk by the people frequenting the bog quicker than you could say "twenty boozehounds on an island in the rain".)

All present and correct: It is traditional, in Sweden, to put pictures of the royal family in the outdoors bog (you can interpret this any way you want. Also, you can view more royal privy pictures here).

Another interesting bog we've come across recently is at the Falu Fängelse youth hostel in Falun. This friendly hostel, located in a 19th-century prison, offers cool (the walls are very thick), noise-insulated (the doors are very thick) rooms; a friendly atmosphere; and a museum in the basement! We've rarely come across a more festive lodging! The toilets are simple yet satisfying.

Plenty of reliable coat hooks.
A gratifyingly prison-like light fixture.
There is nothing lacking here.



We adore clear signage!

An old-fashioned Swedish mixer tap, good soap, and recycled paper towels. All thoroughly fulfilling.
Speaking of prisons we've had occasion to note, recently, that there are too many dudes out there being arseheads on Twitter. If you are guilty of having spent your time being insolent to, for example, a young woman who is fighting for her own life, and the lives of other people, we have one word for you: FUCKING WELL DESIST. Obviously all our readers are highly civilised and would never dream of doing such a thing, but nonetheless, we would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of politeness. As Caitlin Moran so wisely says,
Being polite is possibly the greatest daily contribution everyone can make to life on Earth.
(How to Be a Woman, 2011)
All you achieve, when being deliberately rude, is revealing your own insecurity. You don't like immigrants / women having rights / amusing pictures of ducks? Fine. That's no reason to act boorishly to someone trying to help people in a difficult situation. Instead of sitting around on your arse on Twitter, get the fuck out there and do something constructive. Volunteer for a women's shelter. Help the neighbours paint the fence. Plant sunflowers. Get your tools out and build a bird house, or a beehive. LITERALLY ANYTHING. And when voicing your opinions, do so in a constructive and civilised manner.

Naturally, not everyone being abusive, online or in real life, is a man. Women are rude, too. But it is a statistically proven fact that most violent crimes and most acts of aggression are committed by men. And you need only do a quick scan of rude messages on Twitter to conclude that most of them are from males with apparently nothing better to do than shout abuse at strangers. If you don't like us saying that, fine. It's still true. Here are some facts to ponder before you start shouting, and/or beating your chest like a drum, causing chest-hair to fly in all directions (we hope you get the hoover out occasionally).

We found an amusing sticker on a bog-standard, half-arsed train toilet that said, simply, "Leif!" We thought it illustrated rather nicely the fact that not only most of the violence in this world, but also most of the urine on toilet seats, emanates from men. Most of you are all right - great, even - but dudes. As a sex, you've got some work to do. Leif! Whether that's your name or not! Fucking well remember to aim!

PLEASE. FUCKING WELL AIM.

During a trying and difficult time in our life recently, Shewee Fiend Friend, showing true solidarity and sisterhood, sent us this glittery toilet the minute she finished taking 1) the piss and 2) obvious delight in her rather vibrant schadenfreude. We are forever grateful.

Hurrah! A festive, glittery toilet seat!

THE SCREAMING BLOODY HORROR!!!!!!!

These are, to quote Shewee Fiend Friend's actual words, "Hideous taps in my [English] hotel room". The noise you heard just then was caused by the vast amount of air molecules that were displaced on us shuddering massively. (Note how these taps are eerily reminiscent of the ones in our Toilet Tale Terminator Toilet?)
In order not to lose our minds completely, what with all the fascism being dished out left, right, and centre, lets have not one but TWO Jonny Babe Parade toilet selfies! The first one was accompanied, fitting rather nicely into our earlier prison theme, by the words "Fighting criminals in the urinals":

"It's not who I am underneath, but what I do, that defines me" - let's bloody well hope, dudes, that what you are doing is not piddling on toilet seats!

On receiving the second picture, one fairly average Sunday at 00:03 am, we asked, reasonably we thought, what was in the many pictures on the wall. The reply the next day read, "Not sure. Was very drunk". You can't say fairer than that!

HUBBA HUBBA WOOF!

Today's Festive Video comes from a charming gentleman we happened to run into at the eminent musical event Orsayran. It's called "Kvinnor är smartast", which translates as "Women are the smartest". We are rather inclined to agree.


Festive Video: Sigge Hill, Kvinnor är smartast


Related Reading

Join us in weirdly perving on Father Ted: Theme: "Unwanted Guests". Also, A Surprising Pin-Up!

All posts featuring the semi-weird concept "Privy Counsel Pin-Ups"

Have a read of Maureen's evocative musings on her website

All posts featuring Jonny

Another toilet we enjoyed in the environs of Orsasjön: Stockholm Central Station: The Trauma Is So Great We Are Brought To Quoting Cicero

Another charming example of pictures of the royal family serving as toilet decorations: By the Sea - A Toilet Blogger's Holiday

All posts featuring Royal Toilets

A constructive rant from our friends at the Out of Lines blog: From Random Dudes on the Internet Deliver Us, O Lord

Ignorance is no excuse - check out the Feminism 101 site for information on all the many ways the world is fucked up!

All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend

Terminator Toilet 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

"The Best Thing About Football Is Seeing Grown Men Cry"

Reader, we're in a pub, ostensibly watching the Sweden-England football game. Spirits are high, the beer is plentiful, and the nationalism is loud and in places rather crude. The English contingent of our party is warily eyeing the emergency exits. 

Although supposedly here to watch the match, we are evidently in reality spending our time engaged in two of our favourite activities: necking beer and writing a bog blog post.
While we're at it, let us revisit our favourite Bridget Jones football moments, shall we? We'll start with the bit in The Edge of Reason (Helen Fielding, 1999) where there had been a misunderstanding between Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy, and Bridget had finally got Mark on the phone to sort things out.
'Got back to remorseful message from Mark saying he had tried to ring straight after the match but phone was permanently engaged and now I was out. Was just wondering whether to call him back when he rang.
"Sorry about earlier," he said. "I'm just really down about it, aren't you?"
"I know," I said tenderly, "I feel exactly the same."
"I just keep thinking: why?"
"Exactly!" I beamed, huge rush of love and relief washing over me.
"So stupid and unnecessary," he said, anguished. "A pointless outburst with devastating consequences."
"I know," I nodded, thinking, blimey, he's taking it even more dramatically than me.
"How can a man live with that?"
"Well, everyone is only human," I said thoughtfully. "People have to forgive each other and ... themselves."
"Chuh! It's easy to say that," he said. "But if he hadn't been sent off we'd never have been subjected to the tyranny of the penalty shoot-out. We fought like kings amongst lions, but it cost us the game!"
I gave a strangled cry, mind reeling. Surely it cannot be true that men have football instead of emotions? Realize football is exciting and binds nations together with common goals and hatreds but surely wholesale anguish, depression and mourning hours later is taking ...
"Bridget, what's the matter? It's only a game. Even I can see that. When you called me during the match I was so caught up in my own feelings that ... But it's only a game."
"Right, right," I said, staring around the room crazily.'

Next, let's fondly remember the time, in Bridget Jones' s Diary (Helen Fielding, 1996), when Bridget was watching a football match with her best friends Sharon and Jude. 

'"That's exactly why the whole thing is so objectionable. Now come on, we're supposed to be watching the match."
"Mmm. They've got lovely big thighs, haven't they?" said Jude.
"Mmmm," I agreed, distractedly wondering if Shaz would go mad if brought up Rebecca during the match.
"I knew someone who slept with a Turk once," said Jude. "And he had a penis that was so enormous he couldn't sleep with anyone."
"What? I thought you said she slept with him," said Shazzer, keeping one eye on the television.
"She slept with him but she didn't do it," explained Jude.
"Because she couldn't because his thing was too big," I said supportively of Jude's anecdote. "What a terrible thing. Do you think it goes by nationality? I mean do you think the Turks ... ?"
"Look, shut up," said Shazzer.
For a while we all fell silent, imagining the many penises tucked neatly into shorts and thinking of all the games of many different nationalities in the past. Was just about to open my mouth, but then Jude, who seemed to have become rather fixated for some reason, piped up, "It must be very weird having a penis."
"Yes," I agreed, "very weird to have an active appendage. If I had one I would think about it all the time."
"Well, yes, you'd worry about what it would do next," said Jude.
"Well, exactly," I agreed. "You might suddenly get a gigantic erection in the middle of a football match."
"Oh for God's sake!" yelled Sharon.
"OK, keep your hair on," said Jude. "Bridge? Are you all right? You seem a bit down about something."

After this delightful burst of reminiscence, let us quickly look at some toilets. Below are pictures taken in the café at the copper mine in Falun, Sweden. The café was charming and so was the toilet, enriched with not just a hygienic toilet roll holder but a piece of metallic rock from the mine.





Reader, Sweden isn't doing well in this football game. Let us perhaps enjoy some pictures that Jonny sent us ages ago, in order to promote Anglo-Swedish friendship and understanding.






 
You may revisit the Keira Knightley spa toilets, if you wish, here.

Whatever happens, we are serene in the knowledge that, though England may have beat Sweden in the football, they also have to spend their lives on a damp island that doesn't have functioning heating or mixer taps. Also, remember that time they got their arses kicked by Iceland?

Let's have a Festive Video to cheer ourselves up, shall we?


Festive Video: Kasey Tyndall, Bar That's Open

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Moral Resolve and Wishful Thinking: A Stiff Upper Lip, A Sturdy Coat Hook, Hair Conditioner, A Cup of Tea

As our hero Bertie Wooster so wisely notes, the ability to keep one's lip stiff and upper in challenging times can mean the difference between hope and despair. This is not easy when, to paraphrase ourselves, a shitstorm of racism, sexism, and every kind of -ism you can think of, including nazism, has been unleashed upon the world. Still, we keep aiming for facial rigidity.

We have already mentioned P. G. Wodehouse's searingly intelligent sarcasm on the topic of fascist dictators, and shall not go off on that tangent again just now. Instead, let us remember Bertie Wooster's musings on labial elevation which, if we haven't got this completely arse-backwards, are as follows:
It has been well said of Bertram Wooster by those who enjoy his close acquaintance that if there is one quality more than another that distinguishes him, it is his ability to keep the lip stiff and upper and make the best of things. Though crushed to earth, as the expression is, he rises again - not absolutely in mid-season form, perhaps, but perkier than you would expect and with an eye alert for silver linings.
(Wodehouse, P. G. Joy in the Morning. London: Penguin, 1999)
Another person who promotes the idea of hope is of course Rebecca Solnit. We exhort you to read her writings at every opportunity, and to continue fighting fascism. At the Privy Counsel, we are stiff in our resolve to keep our lip stiff and upper (and mercifully free of the frighteningly unflattering Hitler moustache), possibly aided by a stiff gin and tonic or four.

We reckon we could all do with some encouragement in our lip-stiffening and general hardening the fuck up, which is why we are delighted to have many spiffing pictures to show you today!

First of all we have this excellent coat hook, photographed by Shewee Fiend Friend at LaGuardia Airport. It is sturdy and reassuring, offering strength and solidity without showing a trace of megalomaniac or homicidal tendencies. This is what we all crave - reliability and a steadfast adherence to principles. This coat hook is not shiny and golden; it doesn't sparkle alluringly, play golf, or make empty boasts on Twitter. It is prudent, tactful and considerate. It offers support, not judgement. It is, simply, a decent coat hook.


 Continuing the coat hook theme, here is another one which we're pretty sure is from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. When visiting Amsterdam recently, we were impressed not just by the quality of the plumbing, but by the friendly, welcoming atmosphere and helpful locals. The city is of course also home to the Anne Frank Museum, and if that is not a chilling reminder of the result of fascism, we don't know what it is a chilling reminder of.

Like the coat hook above, this one isn't flashy, but functional. It keeps its promises. It wouldn't dream of inveigling and insinuating, but speaks clearly, keeping its facts straight and its moral compass aligned with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (This is really not hard, people.)



Remember when we almost started a competition between everyone's favourite toilet-posing piece of hunka-hunka-burning-love, Jonny, and Shewee Fiend Friend? This exciting drama was played out in three fiercely flippant bog blog updates in 2016 and 2017, entitled Oh, Jonny - Losing Our Hearts to a Loose Cannon; In Which the Privy Counsel Goes Ballistic  (don't worry, we don't charge anything for the clever puns - they are completely free!); and Nothing Is Certain But Death, Taxes, and Knees

We hereby have the honour of presenting yet another contribution to what must probably henceforth be known as the Privy Counsel Cannon Babe Parade! This cannon stands outside the lighthouse Långe Jan, on the southern tip of the island Öland, off the coast of Sweden. The lighthouse was erected during the reign of King Gustav III, who incidentally granted freedom of religion, enabling Jews to live in Sweden without converting, in the 1770s. Parts of the Privy Counsel can boast Jewish ancestry thanks to this festive and reasonably enlightened monarch - hurrah!


Staying on Öland, we found a refuge in the shape of a very safe and comforting toilet at Hotel Skansen, a favourite haunt of ours in the summer. Note the beautiful floor tiles, sensible hygiene arrangements and thoughtful décor.



The excitement does not end there! Our room at the above-mentioned hotel had not only soap and shampoo but hand lotion and actual, bona fide conditioner! We have been complaining about the lack of hair conditioner in hotels since at least 2012, and find the provision of it a boon!

The shower: Shampoo and conditioner!
The sink: Soap and hand lotion!
Last but definitely not least, let us feast our eyes on this toilet at the friendly Persian restaurant Khatoon, in Lund, Sweden! The name, according to the menu blurb, means "queen" or similar, and is representative of the historically strong position of women in north-western Iran. Isn't that an encouraging factoid!

The best of both worlds: combining beauty and hygiene!
A hefty and helpful coat hook
Paper towels and a decorative door
Today's Festive Video is a song that's been playing rather a lot at the Privy Counsel of late. We heartily wish all our readers the kind of love that makes a cup of tea.



Festive Video: Gretchen Peters, Love That Makes a Cup of Tea


Related Reading

All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend
All posts featuring Jonny

Previous posts in what we must now probably refer to as the Privy Counsel Cannon Babe Parade:
Oh, Jonny - Losing Our Hearts to a Loose Cannon
In Which the Privy Counsel Goes Ballistic 
Nothing Is Certain But Death, Taxes, and Knees

Another of the many posts in which we rant about Nazis: 2016 in Summary: Holding on to Hope, or, We're Really Cunting Angry, or, Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

The earliest recorded instance of us complaining about the lack of hair conditioner in hotels: Villa Ingrid: Toilet Paper and Loveliness 

Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark is available as a free e-book

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is available online or as a PDF, and has been translated into over 500 languages

Monday, 4 June 2018

Always Stay Humble and Kind, and Also Answer Your Phone

You know the feeling when you'd really like to play the ukulele for a bit; not only because you are about to perform in public and some practice would benefit everyone involved, not least the audience having to endure the performance, but because that is your heart's desire; however the Fates are not smiling (and why should they? They have enough to deal with - rude people on trains, incorrect grammar on food packaging, the inevitable apocalypse that will annihilate hot baths, dentistry and espresso - without going about smiling at strangers) and you are hindered in your endeavour by the fact that the weather is literally sweltering and necessitates a dramatic, privacy-killing, and potentially highly neighbour-irritating flinging open of doors? What better way to profit by your enforced inaction than by writing a blog post, to delight and edify your readers!

Here, at any rate, is photographic evidence - delightful and edifying or not - of us leaving off worrying about the causal link between the zombie apocalypse and poor potato harvests for a few hours while enjoying the craft beers at Beer Ditch, in Malmö!

A toilet after our own heart! We are reasonably confident that Shewee Fiend Friend barked with happiness at the evidence of craft beer-brewing happening around the world visible here.
A hygienic mixer tap.

Our intrepid correspondent, showing off a highly beloved t-shirt and trying very hard to live up to its message. If you like the look of it, you can order it at the sheshirtshop.
 
A friendly sign telling one where to find more paper towels, should these ones run out. We do love clear signage!
Our only complaint about this toilet was the hopelessly feeble coat-hook. Look at it. We're not even sure it's a coat-hook. It might just be a random hook left from where a painting used to hang but, quite conceivably considering the minuscule size of the hook, fell off.

Now for an update from New York! Shewee Fiend Friend, feeling intellectual, ventured forth to a museum. She sent us the following commentary:
The museum was modern art
Mostly rock sculpture

I liked the coat hook

It certainly looks robust and functional
This, too, looks functional and hygienic. We appreciate that there is a sturdy rail that one could clutch, should one be feeling frail for any reason.

We don't often get sentimental here at the Privy Counsel. Except we do, actually, much more often than we would admit to in public, or anywhere else for that matter, including the most privy recesses of the Privy Counsel and its environs.

A song that we've been listening to a lot lately is the one featured below in today's Festive Video, that we reckon contains good advice to young people. It so easily happens, when one is young, that one caves in to what Caitlin Moran calls "the anxiety of other, ultimately less satisfying things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’ and ‘being very thin’". Even people who are not quite so young any more and may in fact be medievalists in their mid-to-late thirties, may profit from its message; we've been reflecting lately on the need to remain humble and kind even when things are changing, or confusing, or you're super annoyed and would like nothing better than to walk off in a huff and sodding well let everyone else drink the champagne - which you have, by the way, out of the kindness of your heart, carried for four hours - BY THEIR SODDING SELVES. (Everyone was doing their best to ensure a restful moment of champagne consumption, they just weren't communicating efficiently. Could we add a subclause to the refrain? "Always be humble and kind AND REMEMBER TO COMMUNICATE YOUR THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS BECAUSE PEOPLE CAN'T READ YOUR MIND AND ALSO ANSWER YOUR PHONE", perhaps?)



Festive Video: Lori McKenna, Humble & Kind


Related Reading
All posts featuring pubs
All posts featuring Malmö
All posts with an explicit mention of signage
All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend
All posts featuring toilets in museums
Another toilet that has a sturdy rail 
Because we know it's what you want: all posts featuring Jonny

Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Girl Bartenders Hate

There are certain situations in this life where you and your travelling partner end up looking at each other in horror and saying "our mothers must never find out about this" then shaking your heads vigorously only to wince violently, because you had forgotten that you were in no fit state to shake, nod or move your head in any direction.

We experienced one of the above-mentioned situations recently, on our sojourn to Canada. In our last post we predicted that it "is a story that is definitely not safe for work and is, perhaps, best not told at all. We suspect it will seep out gradually over the years, in moments of inebriation. You may as well lock any children in a dark cupboard and duct tape the cat's ears together now, saving you time later".

We stand by these words and will defend them come hell, high water or large amounts of really delicious rosé. However, we have reached the point where we have recovered enough to show you some cheerful pictures from just before our metaphorical train derailed and crashed into a large rock surrounded by bears, broken bottles, and horror clowns.

One thing that never leaves us, no matter how many weird pink shots we have unwisely accepted from strangers, is our constant gender analysis. We simply never stop scanning our surroundings and analysing the amount of sexism visible. (Before you ask: yes, this is obviously exhausting. But once you've seen the ever-present misogyny, you can't un-see it. Read more about what it is like in this article by the arse-kicking Emer O'Toole.) For example, though we had an amazing time in the bar of the Westwinds Motor Hotel in the wonderfully named town of Biggar, Saskatchewan, and enjoyed our conversations with the locals immensely, we couldn't help but notice the rampant injustice in the niceness of the men's toilets compared to the women's.
The urinal in the men's toilet in the motel bar in Biggar, Saskatchewan
Nice sinks, nice soap, recycled hand towels, hygienic aluminium surfaces.
We take no responsibility for anything that happened after this photo was taken.
Your Privy Counsellor bravely venturing into the gents' to record the state of the facilities.
In contrast: The ladies'. Old formica, tatty beige tiles. On the plus side: a new-looking paper towel dispenser.
Ruin and despair!
THIS IS NOT ON!
At least the coat hook was good.

Let us quickly have a picture of Jonny to cheer ourselves up.
Jonny wrote to us, some time ago:

I’ve got about 90 pictures of toilets to send you.
Including one from the spa Kiera Knightly was at

Rugged, on so many levels! Woof!

We replied, quite reasonably, with the single word "HUBBA!" Jonny, being a self-deprecating kind of gentleman, responded with "I assume that’s at the mixer taps?", to which we replied, in turn,
WHAT MIXER TAPS?
THERE'S MIXER TAPS? #DidntEvenNotice

Before we move on to today's Festive Video, we would just like to say one thing, and that thing is

WE'RE REALLY SORRY ABOUT THE VOMIT IN THE PARKING LOT.

Cheers.



Festive Video: Miranda Lambert, Ugly Lights


Related Reading

All posts featuring Canada
All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend (she being the travelling companion mentioned above)
All posts featuring everyone's favourite rugged gentleman, Jonny
Our previous post mentioning our Canadian Adventure

Sunday, 22 April 2018

L'Art pour l'Art - In Which We Completely Fail to Justify Our Raison d'Être (Again)

Well, tally-ho, darlings, it's been a while, what, what? We have, regrettably, been feeling rather feeble this winter and have spent an inordinate of time on the old chaise-longue, clutching our head and yelling for the butler to bring tea and painkillers. (Turns out we have wasted many hours thus unprofitably engaged - apparently we don't actually have a butler.) 

However, spring has arrived, bringing with it daylight, fetching ducklings decorating our streams and rivers, and temperatures conducive to human survival. In short, we feel life returning to our weary limbs! Consequently, the urge to write a toilet blog post has gripped us with increasing urgency, finally overpowering us completely. Huzzah?

Let us lose no time in ogling pictures of toilets. The following exciting images are from a café called The Underground, in Saskatoon, Canada. We were weirdly asked, when wishing to partake of a refreshing beverage at this charming eatery, to decide on a tip before we had got our order, which we found confusing, but of course we want to support workers on minimum wage. It's not their fault the system is fucked! Also, we found the staff friendly, the walls filled with thought-provoking and sometimes amusing art, and the toilets excellent!
 
This, friends, is a place where one can feast one's eyes on some art while enjoying a super hygienic toilet. Huzzah!

We found that, as a rule, coat hooks in Canada were of a very high quality. These ones were no exception!
 
Some more art.
Even the outside of the toilets was thought-provoking! One door is labelled as a not-toilet. A non-toilet. Not a toilet. One can't help but wonder - if it is not a toilet, what is it?
 
This air freshener tried, and failed, to smell like cinnamon. What is it with air fresheners that try, and fail, to smell like cinnamon? Why go to all that trouble? As Kacey Musgraves says, "I'd rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain't". This one goes to a lot of trouble pretending to be what it ain't. If we were to offer it advice, it would be to chill the fuck down. Stop trying so hard. Maybe try a simple apple scent? Almost anyone can pull off synthetic apple.

A final view of this hauntingly beautiful toilet.

"What were you doing in Canada, you old rogue?" you are no doubt wondering, winking in a suggestive manner and perhaps making rude hand gestures. The short answer to your query is "We were visiting Shewee Fiend Friend". The long answer is a story that is definitely not safe for work and is, perhaps, best not told at all. We suspect it will seep out gradually over the years, in moments of inebriation. You may as well lock any children in a dark cupboard and duct tape the cat's ears together now, saving you time later.

We feel like we have energy left for a couple of pictures from Japan, land of fabled toilets! A friend of Our Mum's went there recently, and kindly provided these pictures of Japanese toilet engineering.

We do, always, encourage clear signage...

...especially when it is this amusing!

Finally, before we retire to rest our weary head on the afore-mentioned chaise-longue and binge-watch Gossip Girl, let us have a read of this little collection of bons mots - a guide to etiquette that we wrote a long time ago, but for unknown reason have never published. It seemed very amusing when we revisited it in the back of an Über with Shewee Fiend Friend (perhaps next time we should discuss the exploitative and abusive business practices of Über? Just a suggestion), but maybe it's not actually that funny when one isn't morally corrupt and physically broken after a possibly-rather-too-exciting road trip? You tell us.

“Oh, behave!”

The Privy Counsel’s Guide to Etiquette.

Board-game parties
Don’t go. If you must, burn the house down.

Communal brunches with flatmates
If you are forced to go, despite escape manoeuvres, don’t talk to anyone. If you don’t engage with the crazy, they can’t get to you.

Accidentally getting shitfaced on Sainsbury’s brandy
If you accidentally get shitfaced on Sainsbury’s brandy at a dinner party, with the result that you end up locking yourself into the bathroom and hurling the toilet seat into the shower then passing out, your host and hostess have to pick the lock and put you to bed on the sofa, and you wake up the next day and proceed to throw up yellow bile: leave. You have already put your hosts through enough bother and embarrassment. Don’t stick around, throwing up yellow bile. Get out immediately.

If you continue to throw up yellow bile on the train
Not a hell of a lot you can do about it, except try to be discreet. If possible, throw up into the bin. If this manoeuvre fails, look apologetic or, if you can possibly manage it, pregnant.

Facebook birthdays
If you wonder whether to wish a friend, with whom you no longer have anything in common, a happy birthday on Facebook, and the uncertainty as to the advisability of the action causes you actual nervous strain: hold off. Most problems solve themselves if you leave them long enough. (Massive, massive exception: application deadlines.) Soon enough your friend will post an update about his or her dinner, and you will then immediately be morally justified in never speaking to them again.

Communal brunches with flatmates, part II
If there is talk of buying ingredients, and even this simple undertaking causes frictions and bruised egos, run for the hills. Or even better, get sloshed on whisky while slagging off your bitching flatmates to someone else.

Communal board-game evenings with flatmates
Seriously, what is it with board-games? Cough loudly in their faces, and tell them you have pneumonic plague.

Work
Ideally, do this in bursts of barely controlled panic; the stress caused by poor time-management will add zest to your dull, mundane life. Whenever possible, combine with alcohol.

A flatmate has an unreasonable obsession with the toaster
Tricky. Trawl the internet for exorcists. Or – a well-documented method, this – put chilli powder in her underwear.

Having babies
Foisting life on someone without asking first is the height of rudeness. Life is mostly pain, suffering, and that odd smell in the closet – who in their right mind would expose a tiny, defenceless creature to that? Avoid.

Your supervisor “improves” the language in your essay by introducing errors
Curse her with a heinous disease and ignore the changes. Remain polite.

A friend fails to see the rationale of your Richard Armitage obsession
Cease to acknowledge their existence.

You’re not sure how best to undermine your toaster-obsessed flatmate’s confidence
Look at her pityingly whenever you bump into each other in the kitchen. Respond doubtfully, but politely, to everything she says, as if she were a dangerous lunatic.

A friend is insufferably patronising when proofreading your essay
Suck it up, princess. You asked for it.

An awkward situation arises because there’s a bunch of you in the kitchen and you refuse to engage in the conversation while your toaster-obsessed flatmate is present
Well done.

The person in front of you in the supermarket aisle is walking unendurably slowly, right in the middle, making it impossible for you to pass either on the right or the left
Stare furiously at the back of their head, walking as close to them as you can possibly manage. They will soon start to feel very awkward indeed, and disappear down a side aisle to escape the lunatic breathing - literally - down their neck.

Some trollop cuts in line at the library due to an ambivalent set-up with two librarians but only one acknowledged queue
Give her the kind of stare that freezes fire then, when she blushes and acknowledges your position at the front of the queue, yield your place with icy politeness. She will burn with shame. Burn.

A friend talks about kitchen curtains
Life is too short. Avoid for all eternity and don’t return their calls.

A friend sets fire to the kitchen curtains
Here’s an interesting character, worth cultivating. Bring whisky and an economy pack of tissues.

An acquaintance is being all Austrian, hectoring everyone with their opinions and refusing to acknowledge anyone else’s view
Delete from social media. Start wearing sunglasses when going out, even in wet weather and at night. If you slip even once she will recognise you, and stop for a – we believe we’ve got the term right – “chat”.

A friend starts talking about intimate aspects of their wife’s pregnancy
Smile politely. Blink. Change the subject. You wish them well, but there are limits.

A 19th-century academic writes offensive things about women
Speak ill of him at every opportunity. Shake your fist at his headstone and think triumphant thoughts about death, the great equaliser.

A friend is being an absolute gem, taking time out of his busy schedule to proofread your essay extremely carefully and making comment after helpful comment.
Abuse him to his face, calling him every name you can think of, and keep harping on about what a patronising prick he is.


Last but not least, let there be a Festive Video! This one describes our current state of mind with admirable aptitude. We wouldn't say it's been lonely - one is never lonely when one lives in a digital world spanning several time zones where there is always a member of the Privy Counsel awake and prepared to discuss headbands, the Protestant work ethic, or Channing Tatum's divorce - but it certainly has been a long, long, cold winter. Possibly Our Mum will even like it (though Shewee Fiend Friend will, assuredly, dislike it with a vengeance).


Festive Video: Ashley Monroe - Mayflowers

Related Reading
Another toilet with air freshener that tried, and failed, to smell like cinnamon
All posts featuring Canada
All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend
All posts featuring Our Mum
All posts featuring Japan 

Also, festive mini reviews we posted on Facebok while in Canada can be viewed here:









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