Saturday, 26 May 2012

Terminator Toilet

It's 2029. Inferior British plumbing has taken over the entire planet. The world is a dark and scary place, where everything is black or white, hot or cold. No pleasant in-between temperatures soothe Mankind's suffering soul. However, there is a ray of hope: a guerrilla band of resistance fighters are bravely defying the evil burn-injury overlords, installing mixer-taps and ripping off wrist-breaking toilet flush handles every chance they get.

A Terminator Toilet is sent back in time to kill the mother of all resistance fighters, Sarah Connor.
The resistance movement counters this by sending a man of their own, Kyle Reese,
to 1984 Los Angeles (there's no accounting for taste).

Terminator Toilet, not being a particularly bright spark, promptly kills two people called Sarah Connor, neither of them the right one. Kyle, on the other hand, finds Sarah and explains that her as yet unborn son, the aptly named John, will one day be the resistance movement's greatest hero, wielding his giant spanner and striking fear into the hearts of the evil plumbing overlords.

Terminator Toilet finally realises his mistake and hunts down the real Sarah. She and Kyle manage to flee,
and, during a brief respite, hook their pipes up and fiddle with each other's taps.
Terminator Toilet finds Sarah and Kyle again. Kyle gets killed trying to blow up Terminator Toilet with a pipe bomb.
He was never an expert hand with the pipes. Rolling her eyes and muttering something about getting stuff done properly, in that way peculiar to persons of the gentler sex, Sarah crushes Terminator Toilet in a hydraulic press.
The evil gleam in its eyes finally dies.

Sarah, pregnant with John, travels through Mexico, tutting every step of the way at the state of the plumbing.
A Mexican urchin takes a picture of her, which she buys.
This is the photo that her son, the aptly named John, will later give to Kyle...
Stay tuned for the sequel, Terminator Toilet II: Bad Plumbing Never Dies; or; Hasta la Vista, Crap Taps.

Related Reading
Are You British? Does Tap Sanity Elude You?
A Note on Desperate Measures

Friday, 25 May 2012

Toilet Song: Dirty, Dirty Feeling

We're happy to present our second Toilet Song today; funnily enough this one's by Elvis, too. We're not quite sure what it's about, but judging from the title and girls in nurses' uniforms, it appears to be something hygiene-related. And who doesn't love a talking horse?

Elvis Presley - Dirty, Dirty Feelin'

I've got a dirty, dirty feelin'
Dirty feelin's goin' on
You know I almost hit the ceilin'
When I woke up and you were gone

I took you in when you were hungry
And now your cuttin' out on me
I'm gonna help you little darlin'
That ain't the way it's gonna be

I hear you're pretty good at runnin'
But pretty soon you'll slip and fall
That's when I’ll drag you home with me, girl
I'm gonna chain you to the wall

You know I’m lookin' for you baby
I ain't gonna take it layin' down
I heard that you were cookin' baby
Way on the other side of town

I've got a dirty, dirty feelin'
Dirty feelin's goin' on
You know I almost hit the ceilin'
When I woke up and you were gone

Monday, 21 May 2012

Norwegian/Scottish Fabulousness

As you may or may not know, it was Norway's independence day last week, 17 May. Norwegians have a long history of going loco bananas on this day, to celebrate finally shedding the shackles of that evil colonial power, Sweden.  Norwegian Friend and Semi-Intellectual Friend happened to be partaking of the hilarity in an establishment called Kippie Lodge, outside of Aberdeen. And, lo and behold, the toilets were absolutely amazing!

Here's what Norwegian Friend has to say on the subject:

So I am really writing as a suggestion from our mutual friend [Semi-Intellectual Friend].
   We were at an establishment called Kippie Lodge outside of Aberdeen on Thursday, as you might know it was 17. Mai and [Semi-Intellectual Friend] came with me to celebrate the Independence Day with some other Norwegian students. [Semi-Intellectual Friend] then suggested that I should take some photos of the bathroom for you. So here it is.
   Unbleached paper, everything was very clean, neat and tidy and it smelled like lavender... So all good really...   No paper towels though, but a hand dryer that seemed fine to me but [Semi-Intellectual Friend] said that it was quote: ‘an amazing hand-dryer’. I had no idea that [Semi-Intellectual Friend] was so passionate about hand dryers...
   There was an electric bin in the cubicles... have no idea what the point of that is, I guess it’s supposed to be more hygienic, but it kinda defeats the purpose when one is on the loo, which involves a certain wiping technique.
   There was a changing table for the little ones in the ladies', but not in the guys' bathroom... I think that’s a very Scandinavian thing though that we sometimes have changing tables in the guys' bathroom too.
It was a good day, and I think [Semi-Intellectual Friend] enjoyed it too (there was food and cakes).

Looks right lovely, doesn't it?

Look how many mixer-taps there are!!!

A Privy Counsel-approved air-dryer!!!
(Read more here: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Toilet Roll Holders (But Were Afraid to Ask))

For instructions, look no further

As far as we can tell, these toilets get about a million points!

Many thanks to Norwegian Friend and Semi-Intellectual Friend!

Aberdeen Petroleum Club
Kippie Lodge
North Deeside Road
Aberdeen, AB13 0AB

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Þorsteins Þáttr Skelks: Medieval Toilet Anecdote

Today we feeel compelled to exorcise a violent hangover with some hardcore academic musings. Hence we are going to quote Carolyne Larrington's excellent essay "Diet, Defecation and the Devil: Disgust and the Pagan Past" (read the whole thing here) at you, whether you want it or not.

Þorsteins þáttr skelks, unique to Flateyjarbók, is broadly humorous in tone, drawing, as Óláfr himself remarks, on the familiar stereotype of the independent-minded Icelander who takes risks and disobeys the king, yet who proves his courage and devotion, and is consequently cherished by the monarch.48 Apparently sensing diabolical forces in the offing, Óláfr commands that no one visit the privy alone in the night after an evening of heavy drinking. Þorsteinn the Icelander wakes up, has not the heart to rouse his bunk-mate, and so creeps out to the magnificent twenty-two-seater privy alone. He has been sitting there for a little while on the seat closest to the door when a demon pops up through the innermost seat. The revenant turns out to be a heathen warrior, one Þorkell the thin, who had fought in battle with the pagan Danish king Haraldr Battle-tooth. John Lindow characterizes Haraldr as ‘an unsavoury character, a cantankerous old monarch who finally fell to Óðinn himself’.49 Haraldr Battle-tooth is obviously no Óláfr Tryggvason. Þorsteinn engages the demon in conversation about hell, and learns that even men as brave as the most famous pagan heroes, Sigurðr the dragon-slayer and Starkaðr the Old, are yelling in torment there. These two heroes, Lindow speculates, represent respectively the best and the worst of pagan heroism: Sigurðr killed the dragon Fáfnir, avenged his father on his killers, the sons of Hundingr, and succeeded in crossing the flame-walls surrounding the hall of Brynhildr in order to win her as the bride of his brother-in-law, Gunnarr. The noble Sigurðr was only defeated by the treachery of his brothers-in-law and the lies of Brynhildr. Starkaðr, on the other hand, was fated to live for three lifetimes and commit a shameful deed in each one of them; he finally expired when, badly injured in battle, he managed to provoke the son of a man he had killed into putting him out of his misery by cutting off his head. Although the executioner was doing Starkaðr a favour, he narrowly escaped serious injury from the severed head’s gnashing teeth as it fell to the ground.50
Þorsteinn makes an excellent straight man: when he hears that the hero Sigurðr’s torment is to kindle an oven, he remarks that that doesn’t sound so bad. “It is though . . . since he himself is the kindling” quips the demon (“Eigi er þat þó . . . því að hann er sjálfr kyndarinn”). Likewise, Starkaðr is in fire up to his ankles. Þorsteinn thinks that doesn’t sound too bad either. The demon’s punch-line, that Starkaðr is upside-down, has perfect comic timing. Realizing that he is likely to be dragged down via the privy to join these heroes, Þorsteinn persuades the demon to imitate Starkaðr’s howls. The noise is bad enough to induce unconsciousness, and with each of three howls the demon springs closer by three seats – the fact that the privy has eleven seats on each side thus becomes crucial. Þorsteinn somehow endures until at the last minute – after the third howl and with the demon now positioned next to him – the church bells suddenly begin to ring. The fiend vanishes, and Þorsteinn is saved. With the Icelander’s habitual insouciance, he admits the next morning to the king that he had disobeyed orders, that he had ingeniously induced the howling in order to wake the king, in the hope of rescue, and that he had not been particularly frightened, though with the final unconsciousness-inducing howl he concedes that something like a shudder had run up his spine. Þorsteinn is given a nickname, Þorsteinn skelk (‘shudder’), is presented with a fine sword, and he serves the king until the day of his death and Óláfr’s disappearance at the battle of Svölðr. 
This story is less homiletic than the story of the king and the guest, where, once he has grasped the situation, the king takes the opportunity to expatiate at length on the deviousness of the devil and the power of Christ. Here the dominant tone is comic: the repartee between Þorsteinn and his near-namesake Þorkell the thin is beautifully timed, reminiscent of nothing so much as Chaucer’s Friar’s Tale, another narrative strongly rooted in folk-tale. However, the comedy plays also with ideas of terror; the trip to the privy in darkness lays one open to supernatural forces, visiting a place that is both necessary and unwholesome, a building that is separate from yet part of the farm. The privy as liminal space is encountered in Eiríks saga ins rauða also, where the spirits of those who have died in an epidemic throng its threshold; the Icelandic wisdom poem Hávamál warns against going out at night, unless you absolutely have to visit the privy.51 The privy is a gateway to hell; the revenant – draugr – claims to have come straight from there. The hell he describes is a place of fire and unbearable noise, not, as we might expect, a cesspit of filth and corruption. Yet, I suggest, the story taps into an understanding that above and below are not so dissimilar. What Lars Lönnroth has called the ‘double scene’ (‘dubbla scenen’) effect, the identification of the place where the audience (Þorsteinn) is situated with the place narrated (hell), contributes an immediacy that conveys a kind of truth.52 Þorsteinn’s interest in the pagan old days is purely theoretical; his pagans are already detached from the apparatus of the heroic and pagan past of battles, burial mounds and cult animals, and are in their proper place in hell, where their heroic endurance avails them nothing. The narrator of the þáttr tellingly juxtaposes the warrior of the past, who fell in battle, with the disreputable and pagan hero-king Haraldr Battle-tooth and the warrior of the present, who will fall in battle, with the Christian hero-king Óláfr.

48 For discussion of this story in terms of narratives of the supernatural, see J. Lindow, ‘Þorsteins þáttr skelks and the verisimilitude of supernatural experience in saga literature’, in Structure and Meaning in Old Norse Literature, ed. J. Lindow, L. Lönnroth and G. W. Weber, Viking Collection 3 (Odense, 1986), pp. 264–80.
49 Ibid., p. 271

50 For Starkaðr’s biography, see Saxo, History of the Danes
51 Eiríks saga, p. 215; Hávamál, v. 112.
52 L. Lönnroth, Den dubbla scenen: muntlig diktning från Eddan til Abba (Stockholm, 1978).
53 See Harris and Hill, ‘Gestr’s “Prime Sign”’, for illuminating discussion of this episode

Friday, 18 May 2012

Common Sense in Spain

At the Privy Counsel we're quite used to being accused of all kinds of unsavoury things. We're regularly charged with indulging in unconstructive bitching and moaning, for instance. This doesn't bother us, since we know, even if some people don't, that there is nothing unconstructive about the Privy Counsel. Another attempted insult levelled at us recently was an inquiry as to whether we had participated in "a reality tv show about people with extreme OCD". All we can say is, "Water off a duck's back, baby"!
Every now and then, we are vindicated. Look at this picture of a Spanish bathroom, for instance, sent to Enlightened Friend by another, mutual, friend, with the comment, "Electrical plugs in the bathroom. You see, SPANISH PEOPLE HAVE COMMON SENSE".

Spanish people have common sense
For those of you living in blissful ignorance of the reason for all these tensions, the fact is that bathrooms in Britain have no electric sockets, the populace not being trusted with the ability to not electrocute itself at the slightest provocation. What Britons don't realise, of course, is that most of the rest of the world manages to quietly get on with having plugs in the bathroom, without accidentally brutally electrocuting itself while drying its hair in a convenient location.
Now if you'll excuse us we're going to find some three-inch nails and attempt to electrocute ourselves - we simply can't resist the temptation!

Related Reading
Mixer Taps - The Great Controversy, or, When Will Britain Enter the 21st Century?, or, You Are Not Alone!
Are you British? Does Tap Sanity Elude You?
OCD Voyeurism

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Philosphical Musings

Today we're tackling one of life's big questions. One that philosphers have been wrestling with for millennia. A question which touches the very core of the human soul! Semi-Intellectual Friend, who apparently possesses hidden depths that nobody would have suspected in a million years, sent us this link:

Is Urinating in Public a Nuisance If No One Sees It?

Cast your vote!

Image from this site

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Polite Notice

Semi-Intellectual Friend has been busy doing this, that and the other, and has thus been too preoccupied to communicate much regarding toilet-related matters. (Actually, we could tell you a tale of what Semi-Intellectual Friend has actually been doing that would make your hair stand on end! But we won't, for fear of retaliation.) However, we have had signs of life; we received this amusing picture! We think these sentiments laudable, and are of the opinion that the government should make this kind of signage compulsory.

Image from this website
"Please kindly." That's politeness for you!

Related Reading
A Festive Update
A Brief Guide to Public Toilets

Monday, 14 May 2012

Inviting Ourselves over for Dinner

We enjoy nothing more than inviting ourselves over to our Italian friends' for dinner. Not only is the food always superb (except for that one time...joking!), but their bathroom is excellent!

Look how lovely, clean and sparkly this is!

We like this stripy bathrobe

A fun, non-slip bath mat!
Check out the quality of the grouting!

A lovely souvenir from Florence hanging outside

Yes, we enjoy hanging out at Italian Friends' house very much!
For more Italian plumbing, check out this archive post, and also this one.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Singapore Hygiene Solutions

German Friend has been to Singapore, which seems to be a very caring country, at least in terms of toilets.
Says German Friend:
"These are from Singapore where I am currently and reflect the nation's obsession with R&R (rules and recommendations - I made up that trademark acronym)."
We look forward to more material from German Friend!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Saturday Shenanigans at Saks

If you're sitting there slurping your coffee, overcome by ennui and trying to figure out what the hell to do with your Saturday, we have the solution. Eschew the outdoors - beautiful weather is overrated and will most likely either end abruptly and rain all over your expensive new haircut, or give you skin cancer. Not good. Instead, head to Saks in Harrogate - the toilets are to die for! Canadian Friend sent us these pictures, saying, "The toilets were quite chi-chi but I guess that is to be expected at a salon. Still, I thought you might like them."

We don't approve of the unhygienically uncovered toilet-roll, naturally,
but everything else looks wonderfully all right!

You could have knocked us over with a sledgehammer when we spotted this - a mixer-tap!

My, my, is that soap AND lotion we spy?

 Not having seen this ourselves we are unable to award points, but let us conclude that this seems like an excellent and enjoyable toilet!

Saks Beauty
29 Cheltenham Crescent
Harrogate, HG1 1DH
Tel: 01423 569006

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

MAD: Answering Your Toilet Paper Needs Since 1952

"A spoof of An Ideal Husband?" ranted our inner critic. "Really? You don't think you overreached your intellectual abilities there, Privy Counsel?"
Actually, no, we don't. We think it was an acccurate and amusing rendition of the classic Wilde comedy. But, to satisfy the demands of our less intellectually stringent readers, we've got something right up their alley. We just received a tip about some more, er, absorbing reading: It turns out that MAD Magazine have published no less than four toilet books! Four! Entitled The Mad Bathroom Companion, The Mad Bathroom Companion: Number Two, The Mad Bathroom Companion: Turd in a Series, and The Mad Bathroom Companion: The Gushing Fourth Edition, they are available from MAD (who else?).

In other news, one of the Google search phrases luring yet another poor, benighted reader to our blog this week included "has any celebrities have chlamydia" (sic). We, alas, have no idea, but very much hope that the answer may be found! Perhaps in one of the MAD bathroom companions?

Monday, 7 May 2012

An Ideal Standard Husband



Editor's comment: The glorious, naughty 1890s! British plumbing doesn't get better than this!
(No, really. It doesn't.)

Lady Chiltern's husband not only comes with the standard Victorian fittings, but is, in fact, ideal:
hygienic and morally righteous, with a stellar career and a magnificent, bushy beard.

Mrs Chevely wants Lord Chiltern to use his influence as an M.P. to back a fraudulent scheme to build a dirty canal in Argentina. In order to ensure his cooperation, she blackmails him with a compromising letter. However, Lord Chiltern ultimately says no, as lady Chiltern has declared she will stop worshipping him otherwise, and a gentleman must by necessity be adored by a rosy-cheeked, long-suffering woman in an uncomfortable corset, or people will start rustling The Times at him and exposing him to uncomfortable silences at the club.
Unfortunately for Lord Chiltern, Mrs Cheveley possesses a compromising letter written by Lord Chiltern, and exposes the secret of his scandalous past to his wife, who declares she will never forgive him. Never. Not ever.

Lady Chiltern, in despair, writes a compromising letter herself,
to her and her husband's mutual friend Lord Goring.
In an unfortunate turn of events, Mrs Cheveley gets hold of the letter when she visits that irreparable dandy.
Moments later, Lord Chiltern discovers Mrs Cheveley in Lord Goring's drawing-room.
Convinced that the two are having an affair, Lord Goring storms out.

Mrs Cheveley, prowling around Lord Goring's drawing-room, tries to bargain Lord Chiltern's dirty letter in exchange for marriage with Lord Goring. That ingenious man - a credit to the aristocracy - however, cleverly foils her plot by revealing a bracelet that he can prove she once stole. Mrs Cheveley gives up Lord Chiltern's letter to avoid arrest, but decides to give Lady Chiltern's compromising letter, which she has cleverly concealed upon her person (let's not mention where), to Lord Chiltern.

However, Mrs Cheveley's ill-natured plans are thwarted - Lord and Lady Chiltern forgive each other their respective sins, Lord Chiltern denounces the Argentinian canal scheme in the House of Lords, and Lord Goring gets permission to marry Lord Chiltern's sister. They celebrate with a stupendous party, of the chandelier-swinging, absinthe-bottle-smashing kind, at Café Royal. Hurrah!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

How Clean Is Your Phone?

In the interest of keeping our OCD alive and healthy, we did a little test on The Oatmeal's website. Turns out there are 763,980  germs living on the Privy Counsel phone - the equivalent, apparently, of 153 toilet seats. A mindboggling and worrying number! Now, to get out of our straitjacket and find a moisturizer - all that handwashing leaves our hands as cracked as our mind.

Do the test here - if you dare!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Handwashing with Elvis

Yesterday we received an urgent message from Canadian Friend. It read, "Listen to BBC 2. They've been talking about toilets all morning! You could call in!" Unfortunately, "phoning in to radio stations" does not even feature on our list of favourite amusements. However, we still thought that the idea behind the programme was brilliant - apparently the guys and dolls at the BBC rocked away with toilet-related songs!
We intend to continue the rock'n'roll theme of our last update and shamelessly steal the BBC's concept. Hence, let us start the weekend as we mean to go on and rock the night away with the Privy Counsel's very first toilet-related song, I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water, by Elvis Presley!

At the Privy Counsel, we love Elvis only slightly less than we love mixer-taps, our mothers, and chocolate-chip ice-cream. Read more about him here (this is one of our favourite blog updates ever, so treat it with reverence).

Elvis washing
his hands
Elvis getting physical
with some water

Elvis Presley - I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water

I was born in Macon, Georgia
They kept my daddy over in Macon jail
He told me if you keep your hands clean
You won't hear them bloodhounds on your trail

Well, I fell in with bad companions
Robbed a man, oh up in Tennessee
They caught me way up in Nashville
They locked me up and threw away the key

I washed my hands in muddy water
Washed my hands, but they didn't come clean
Tried to do what my daddy told me
But I must have washed my hands in a muddy stream

Well, I asked the judge now when's my time up
He said son, oh you know we won't forget
If you try just to keep your hands clean
We might just make a good man of you yet

Oh, I couldn't wait to get my time up
I broke out, broke out of Nashville jail
I just crossed the state-line of Georgia
Well I can hear those bloodhounds on my trail

I washed my hands in muddy water
Washed my hands, but they didn't come clean
Tried to do what my daddy told me
But I must have washed my hands in a muddy stream

Related Reading
Handwashing Extravaganza

Dirty People: We Wash Our Hands of Them

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Battling It Out with Rock'n'roll Toilets

A little while ago the Privy Counsel visited a delightful little venue called Fibbers, to see a band we quite like.  We naturally brought our rock'n'roll camera with us, and so we now have the pleasant task of presenting pictures of the Fibbers toilets to our esteemed readers.

The main event of the evening: A perfectly lovely toilet!
Nice and colourful, well lit, and with a trendy-looking bin.
Also, all that plywood smelled very nice!
A joy to a wizened old toilet-reviwer's eye: A hygienic toilet-roll holder!

Hurrah! Only one water temperature available, but it was a pleasant one, and not a vile non-mixer tap in sight!

However, there was only an air-dryer of the non-Privy-Counsel-approved kind available.

We heartily approve of this coat-hook - look how sturdy it is!

The pièce de résistance: The pipes are clear so you can see the water bubbling when you flush! Hurrah!

  A total of 7 points for these rock'n'roll toilets, babes!

8-10 Stonebow House
York YO1 7NP
01904 651 250

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