Tuesday, 30 December 2014

"Time You Enjoy Wasting Is Not Wasted Time" - A Review of 2014 at the Privy Counsel

Well, that's Christmas done. Most people are now back home, constipated, unable to button their jeans, and resolved to never spend several days in the company of Aunt Margery's onion breath and casual racism ever again. A new year, in which we will all do our utmost to avoid our relations, is about to dawn! A new year, in which we haven't yet mortally offended anyone, or got way too drunk and spent a whole day quietly leaking bodily fluids and wishing for death, or burned the pasta. (Yes, actually burned. Pasta.)

So, in order to draw a line under the unbroken procession of fuck-ups and screaming bloody horrors that constituted 2014, let's do a review of the Privy Counsel year. We have selected twelve of our favourite posts to represent the year as a whole, and we rather thought we'd review them in a whimsical, intellectual manner, whether you want us to or not.


Blogge poste the firste:
(Don't) Aim for the Stars

Why do some men piss on the floor? Why? Why? Why? Why in the name of arse? Why?
Shewee Fiend Friend, in a moment of despair, having tried to talk, to explain, to reason with the offending floor-defiler, contemplated homicide or at least dismemberment. In the end, however, she decided that moving to London was less of a hassle than trying to sort this guy out.

We stand in awe of the woman who wrote this note.
Image from flickr.com.

Poste the seconde:
Cuteness, Intellectual Solace, and a Correction

Intellectual Friend, in a moment of - we are assuming - temporary insanity, used the word cute in an email to us. This could obviously not go unpunished. Intellectual Friend, in order to regain his honour and save himself from eternal shame and mockery, had to use his wits, and use them fast. We will say, in defence of Intellectual Friend's virtue, that he did well. We haven't, obviously, forgotten his using the word cute (it's gone on the record as The Faux Pas of Doom), but we have forgiven it.

This blood-thirsty young pirate is very far from being cute.
He is completely terrifying!

Poste the thirde:
Rampant Titillation - Basically, a Real-Life Epistolary Novel

Some of our posts got very, very long during 2014. This was one of them. In its defence, however, it also showcased Semi-Intellectual Friend's, shall we say, unique take on reality. Many of our readers, actually, have expressed their appreciation of Semi-Intellectual Friend's vigorous prose and dynamic use of imagery. For instance, Semi-Intellectual Friend hatched this gem of a paragraph:
Even when you're not around (admittedly, almost always), I'm doing things like preferring hand dryers over recycled paper towels in the hopes that the negative impact of such an act will be chain-reactioned through all the atoms of our existence and push a small stone into your shoe when you're running, just at the exact moment your foot hits the ground (yeah! that was me).

We have no idea what we'd do without the support of our friends. We'd be lost. Adrift. Flushed down the drain. We thank all the gods of the universe for the backing we receive from our friends.

Without our friends, we'd be isolated, unhinged, and in the dark, like the toilet on the right.

Poste the fourthe:
An Annoyingly Long, But Brilliantly Clever, Post, Including Shewees, Beer, and Some Other Stuff

This post got really long. Really long. But it had so much excellent stuff in it - beer! feminism! decorative mould! shrubberies! - that we just couldn't restrain ourselves.

Logically, this mould can be nothing other than a clever Art Nouveau-esque decoration.

Poste the fifthe
A Life-Affirming Experience

It was the heat. We swear, we kept chugging water, all night long, but - without wanting to be unnecessarily indelicate - it was so hot that we just sweated all the water right out. The result was not, perhaps, the worst hangover of our life, but definitely one of the top five. You'd think we'd have learned by now. But - the heat.

A girl's best friend in a tight spot - a clean, stylish Icelandic toilet.

Poste the sixthe:
Foul Play, Also Fowl Issues

In this post, we ranted about the pissiness of the universe, noted the sudden absence of dwarves in our archive (the pheasants, however, are still in place, and as boisterous as ever), and reminisced about "that time when we went to Sir Toby's with Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend, and some other nice friends, to watch the rugby, and Wales won, or lost, or disappeared in an earthquake, or similar".

Life is perilous, and we're not sure of the state of Wales, but here, at any rate, is a reassuring toilet-roll holder.

Poste the seventhe:
On the Nature of Academic Friendships

In which we philosophised on the state of having weird friends.

This water-saving toilet is IN A WINE MUSEUM.

Poste the eighthe:
Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts, But Totally Trust the Toilet Attendant

In a fit of unbridled adventurousness we went to visit a friend in Athens. Greece has been hard hit by the economic downturn, but the locals were wonderfully friendly, the alcohol (and the coffee, and, oh God, the food) was tasty, and the plumbing was interesting and functional. Greece was also, in our experience, remarkably free from sexual harassment. We were only exposed to one very dispirited catcall during our stay, and we spent many hours travelling on the metro alone, wearing a short skirt. In fact, Greece is so awesome that we have, with Kick-Arse Suffragette Friend, hatched a plan to "open a feminist commune/library in Oia on Santorini. It's going to be amazing". We'll keep you posted.

This gentleman is called Bo. Here's how excited he is about the prospect of a feminist library.

Poste the ninthe:
Privy Counsel Pin-Up: Jonny! (Try to Restrain Yourselves.)

Every now and then, we post a photo of Jonny. Jonny is a nice boy but has very poor impulse control. If you could see some of the photos he's sent us but which we've decided - in the interest of mental hygiene - not to publish, you'd go park yourself on the toilet floor and never get up.

Still, this is inarguably an awesome photo.

Poste the tenthe:
Rosy-Fingered Dawn (But No Bloody Lock on the Door) in Istanbul

Sometimes our rampant intellectualism takes even us by surprise. What compelled us to quote classical Greek poetry in a bog blog remains a mystery, but there you are. We were quite excited by the prospect of travelling to Athens via Istanbul, and in many ways, we weren't disappointed. The quality of toilets at Istanbul airport was uneven, and if we were to use one word to sum up the facilities, it would be unreliable. However, the coffee was good, and the staff in Starbucks were the friendliest people we have met anywhere.


Poste the eleventhe:
Lead Pipe Dreams

As regular readers are aware, we love ranting. Love it! Nothing gets our juices flowing like a good rant, especially a plumbing-related one. Turns out we have finally met our match! 2014 was the year in which we introduced Exuberant Archaeologist Friend, who turns out to be a champion among ranters. A champion!

"Who are the barbarians now, motherfuckers?"

This lead pipe, marked "Vespasian", has been officially declared The Sexiest Lead Pipe of the Year.

Poste the twelfthe:
Rocking, Rolling, Ranting

2014 was also the year in which the question of which way to hang the toilet roll was finally settled. There need be no more discussion on this subject now.

If you suffer from combative flatmates, the vertical position is recommended.

2014. Some stuff that happened was BADASS. Some of it was just bad. Let's have a festive video and get it on with that champagne!

Festive video - Maddie & Tae, Girl in a Country Song

Related Reading

Caitlin Moran on women in music wearing no clothes (from a Marie Claire interview):

It’s like if every single male artist dressed up as farmers. In every video they were on a farm. Whether it was Jason Derulo or Oasis, they’re always on a tractor, they’re always surrounded by sheep and always in boots. And all the songs are about enjoying farming, and this is all you've had for ten years – you’d think you were going mad.


If you are in need of spiritual solace, rest assured that 2014 was also the year in which The Prettiest Mixer Tap in Britain was introduced. Contemplating it is very soothing. Thank you, Tudor Friend.

The Prettiest Mixer Tap in Britain

2014 was also the year in which our friend Jane started her blog Temple of Janus. This blog is - if this is indeed possible - even more rampantly intellectual than our own humble bog blog! Jane specialises in sexy pictures of features of medieval architecture - of the kind that keep scholars the world over up at night, salivating into a bucket. There is also fierce, groundbreaking analysis.  It's a scream!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas, the Acropolis Museum, and an Academic Debate (And Some Very Festive Calypso Music)

So here it is again, merry Christmas, and everybody's getting ding-dong merrily on high. Or we are, anyway, every chance we get. (If you find that all those irritating songs about snowmen, sleigh bells, and virgin (what?)  mothers (you're kidding, right?) correspond poorly with reality as you know it, then do check out our cynical festive video from the other day.) For Christmas - despite what assorted misguided Anglo-Americans, and others, may believe - emphatically happens today, on the twenty-fourth. This is well known, and attested by Scandiwegians and Colombians the world over. And also, allegedly, Loretta Lynn.

Though not being, as previously mentioned, huge fans (or indeed fans at all) of the dude commonly known as Jebus, preferring to highlight the pagan roots of most of the Christmas shebang (and if one should dispense with the whole "Christ" part of Christmas and go for a rampantly unapologetic jul/jol/jól (hell, even Weihnachten is cool in our book) -based terminology, then all the better), we still believe in spreading peace and goodwill the year round, and perhaps especially so at this time of year, when extended exposure to insane family members, in worryingly confined spaces, renders good vibrations extra necessary in order to avoid painful social situations, and bloodshed.

In furtherance of feelings of joy and good cheer, therefore, we've got some extra juicy toilet photos for you! From the Acropolis Museum in Athens! But first, an important issue needs to be addressed. Before we do even that, however, let's have a calming picture. Christmas is a very stressful time - to be avoided completely, if possible, or spent shitfaced, if not. (At the Privy Counsel we have found a combination of avoidance and shitfacedness to be singularly successful. (The less said about our mulled-wine session with Exuberant Archaeologist Friend the other day, the better (let us content ourselves with stating that the words Ish kakhfê ai'd dur rugnu are not unimportant in the context).))

Enjoy this soothing picture of a beach outside Athens, for a calming few minutes.
...Aaaand - breathe. There. Better?

Tudor Friend wrote to us post-haste after we published the post on upright toilet rolls the other day, pointing out an important issue that we had, in our eagerness to promote the previously mentioned good cheer and merriment, carelessly skated over, namely the difficulty of combining hygiene with upright toilet rolls. Tudor Friend said:

My dear Privy Counsellor,  
While I applaud your championing of the proper way to hang loo roll (one does wonder at the perversity of those who hang it backward) I must take issue with the usefulness of upright roll spindles. I frequently encounter one of these at a friend's abode, and in my experience it has the most unfortunate habit of unwinding, leaving a pile of fallen paper trailing towards the ground (a place of dubious hygiene, obviously). Theoretically the upright spindle satisfies the difference between those who are adamant in their wrongheadedness and those right-thinking people who understand the importance of hanging a roll forward, but gravity is a harsh mistress, and I remain uncertain that domestic tranquility should be purchased at the potential expense of getting floor germs on one's backside whilst in the pursuit of cleanliness.  
Does the learned Counsellor have any suggestions on how, if one is to install such a spindle, this difficulty might be overcome?  
A Forward-Thinking and Upright Citizen 
[In the interest of saving space and preserving everyone's sanity, we omit our own replies, making for a fragmentary correspondence with a highly enjoyable staccato rhythm. Like a literary calypso band! Tudor Friend continues:]
*snerk* The funny thing about this post is that it hearkens back to a fight [Other Friend]  and her ex-boyfriend Wanker had - he was quite fussed about the issue [regarding which way to hang the toilet roll] and she thought he was, well, a wanker for caring. 
It's the one thing where Wanker was, in retrospect, correct. He was in most other respects what his name suggests. (I don't even remember the guy's name; we've been calling him Wanker for fifteen years now!)  
[Original Friend]'s landlady has a giant spindle in their bathroom - the kind you'd normally put spare rolls on - but they use it for the "active" roll as well - and so of course it's constantly trailing on the floor. Their solution seems to be to stuff the trailing end into the hole, but I think that makes it look messy, and there's that weird thought that *someone else has touched what's about to touch my ass*. I've actually meant to write to you about this situation and keep forgetting!  
[There is more, but we'll break here before things get beyond the point where no toilet blog should go.]
Then again we were actually in the Siesta pub, whose vertical toilet roll occasioned this multitude of correspondence, this very afternoon, and it was totally fine. There was no bog roll on the floor. Everything was fine. We examined the holder from every angle, literally and figuratively, and pondered the matter at length and in depth, but couldn't think of a single argument against the vertical toilet roll. (Apart, obviously from the DANGEROUS FLYING TOILET BACTERIA - but we have decided to let that one go, in the interest of preserving the tattered remains of our mental health.) Perhaps, Tudor Friend, you should stop bitching and get your arse over to Scandiwegia?

Anyway. For our special Christmas FUCK NO jul/jol/jól/Weihnachten extravaganza, we've got some kick-arse photos from the Acropolis Museum in Athens for you! The toilets were all sleek and black and clean and functioning and awesome!

This, ladies and gentlemen, is an excellent toilet with (probably) a motion-sensor flush
- we are ordinarily too distrait, and temporarily too pissed, to remember if it was a motion sensor,
but it does rather look like it, doesn't it?

We approve of this bin and these bog-roll holders.


And, voilà - a fascinating glimpse of our Athens correspondent! We are thoroughly overjoyed by these sinks, the soap, and the paper towels!
If you like almost looking at people, enjoy an almost-glimpse of our secret celebrity here, Uncle Sean's handsome almost-there face here, and Australian Friend's exquisite and pretty damn visible, actually, form here.

If you ever go to the Acropolis Museum, do take a few moments to enjoy their highly soothing and intellectually pleasing reading room, rich in free wifi and a splendid view of the Erechteion caryatids. (While we're at it, we apologise unreservedly, if that is the word we are looking for, to everyone who was forced to wait outside the toilets while we took photos.)

We must now find some cheese. Here, have a festive video!

Festive video - Mojo Nixon, Christmas, Christmas

Merry Christmas, dear readers! Or, rather, god jul/glædelig jul/gleðileg jól/frohe Weihnachten! And Καλά Χριστούγεννα to our Greek friends!

Related Reading

Some of our favourite Christmas posts from over the years:
A Christmas Story - Egils Saga

Christmas 2013: Shetland Shithouses Part II. Umm, Poetry in Motion?

The Spirit of Christmas: Mixer Tap, Urinals, Relief

Christmas musings/rantings from the other day: Rocking, Rolling, Ranting

All previous posts about Greece

In other news:
Have you considered turning your back on mindless consumerism and instead benefiting mankind by spending a penny on Oxfam Unwrapped, WaterAid, or ToiletTwinning? Or why not donate to Amnesty International, or your local women's shelter?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Rocking, Rolling, Ranting

There are two ways to hang toilet paper. The right way, and the wrong way. This is well known.

Image from knowyourmeme.com.

One of the more perverse, sinister traits of human nature is the insistence of some people on putting the toilet roll the wrong way round on the holder. Why this is, we have never understood, and most likely never will. Most of the dark sides of the human mind - from murder most foul, to the collection of stamps, to the unspeakable habit of playing board games - can be explained by psychologists and anthropologists. The degenerate habit of putting the toilet roll in the under orientation, however, boggles the world's finest brains.

Image from knowyourmeme.com.

At the Privy Counsel we have a policy of correcting this foul state of affairs wherever we encounter it, which has led to many amusing feuds with flatmates over the years. Never apologise, never surrender! is our motto, and will be until the sun sets over the battlefield.

With that cleared up, we move on to the actual business of the day. We mentioned, some weeks ago, the distressing habit of some establishments of providing unisex toilets, despite this being a crime against every law of human intercourse. What a happy coincidence, then, that we stumbled upon, in our quest for intellectual, spiritual and bog-related fulfilment, a pub that provides not only friendly staff and a large assortment of excellent beer, but a thoroughly decent toilet - with a neutral toilet roll position! The people who run Siesta in Malmö are clearly peaceable, diplomatic folk, who don't like drunken arguments of any kind, and especially not the ones about the proper way to place a bog roll.

Did we mention that we fucking love Tork products?
Or used to, anyway. Tork is owned by SCA, a Swedish company renowned for its environmentally-friendly tissue products. However, it turns out that the CEO of SCA has been squandering company funds on personal luxuries. We are outraged and disgusted by this behaviour, and hope that heads will roll.

BUT LOOK AT THIS - a neutral toilet roll placement! The question here is not whether the toilet paper goes over (as dictated by universal laws of logic, decency and decorum) or under (a foul, degenerate practice), but whether it goes left or right. Personally we couldn't care less. It clearly needs to go on the right.

Other joys of this toilet include this pleasant door-handle and coat-hook, and the sane and normal light switch. Brits, not having caught up with the rest of the world in the matter of insulation - whether thermal or electric - yet, insist on having light switches either a) outside the bathroom or b) in the shape of dangerous and unhygienic light pulls inside. Never mind. They are bound to enter the 20th century one of these days. In the meantime, let the rest of us get on with the 21st!

Pleasant seasonal decoration.

We can't decide whether this artwork is a) both aesthetically and intellectually pleasing, or b) cutesy, kitsch and foul beyond human comprehension. It might possibly depend on how much beer we have imbibed at the moment of contemplation.

How great is this crystal chandelier!

We have a feeling that we have now reached the point at which we normally make a final parting shot in the shape of a quip, bon mot or tawdry platitude, but we're fucked if we can think of one. We will have to settle for something along the lines of, "invigorated by this shining light of sanity in a world of rampant toilet-paper-placement-darkness, we find our faith in mankind restored reach for the bottle and engage in a loud, cheery tally-ho!"

There should be a festive video as well, right? Right. Have this, then - to date the only song to offer a realistic description of Christmas, as experienced by billions of sufferers of insane relatives the world over.

Festive video - Pistol Annies, Hush Hush. (Don't by any means, miss the festive lyric version.)

Hjorttackegatan 1
211 33 Malmö

Related Reading
Another quality rant: Hungover Ranting: Festschrift to Medievalist (With a Side-Interest in Roman Archaeology) Friend
Other festive Christmas-related posts:
The Spirit of Christmas: Urinals, Mixer Taps, Relief
A Christmas Story: Egils Saga
Passing Through the Loos at Kalamazoo
A sane and normal rant about British bathrooms: Onto the Bleach - the Battle Continues
Countries that have sane and normal bathrooms include Spain.

In other news:
Have you considered turning your back on mindless consumerism and instead benefiting mankind by spending a penny on Oxfam Unwrapped, WaterAid, or ToiletTwinning? Or why not donate to Amnesty International, or your local women's shelter?

A mere 20% of people have flipped a roll around when it was facing the wrong direction?
Clearly, toilets the world over are inhabited by CRAVEN, LILY-LIVERED POLTROONS!
Image from 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Tod und Verzweiflung, But Also A Rampant (If Temporary) Triumph

You know how, some days, the only combination of words that accurately describes one's existence is Tod und Verzweiflung? Today, however, is a great day, for today we can say, with utter confidence: "Pah! We laugh in the face of danger. We drop ice cubes down the vest of fear!"

We have defeated the vicious attempts of the Privy Counsel archive to confuse us, ruin our equanimity and make us into gibbering wrecks (or "a gibbering wreck", depending on how many of us one decides there are, and whether we are using the royal we or just an ordinary plural). We have found the elusive "New Year's email"! As regular readers will remember, pictures from the famed New Year's email turned up during one of our archive raids back in August, and we wrote, on the occasion, with touching bewilderment:
As you may suspect, the Privy Counsel picture archive is a total fucking mess. (Read all about the pheasant situation here and here.) There is stuff that's been in there so long we can no longer identify it. Like pictures from German Friend labelled "New year's email", for instance. "What email?" we ask ourselves, squinting in the light of the guttering candle. "And, crucially," we further ponder, taking a quizzical swig from our hipflask, "from what year?"
 We won't go into details of the bravery displayed by the Head Privy Counsellor as we battled against skeletal hands, spiders, and mysterious murderous monks (fuck knows what they were doing in our archive) - suffice to say, we found the email! Behold - an amusing vignette from German Friend! (Look out for interspersed Scandiwegian vocabulary; German Friend is multi-lingual and multi-talented. Oh, and did we mention he just got a dog? We don't know a lot about it at present, only that it isn't called Doris. We'll keep you updated.)

[...] Meanwhile in [German Friend]-land the Christmas and New Year edition 2013 was pretty good. 
I can put some blame on Blighty for blighting a small portion of my stay back home, as on December 23, still in London, I had to pedal through puddles of monstrous extent, errands, presents, etc, you know, and the shoes, the brown shoes got soaked. Horror.
Never really recovered, not till the next day, departure day, anyway, and so, as a good man only owns two pairs of shoes at most at any one time, I had worn "them ole boots", looking strong and masculine, but under the surface, literally, having a blister party! A 5-hour walk with hyperactive 70-year-old
min pappa in Berlin didn't help the matter. New shoes were bought on New Year's Eve (how come nobody ever mentions New Year's Adam? Not fair!). 
Anyway, back in Hamburg for nyår, some peeps from here (London) and there (Germany) joined me and we partied on down in the Washington Bar (you don't have to know this place, but if you are ever in Hamburg looking for a spot to party, I can recommend it. "Klein aber oho", as we say in tyska!). 
[...] A pink-tinted necessary with head rests for male customers! "Kopf hier." Don't fall asleep though, the room is fully armed, pistols dangling menacingly overhead! 
A DJ's wild phantasy at Hamburg's Washington Bar. Blue is so 2014. We love the look. And the decks. And the Boombox. Not so much the blur of the pictures. Sorry. Poop.

"Kopf hier." Jawohl!

One could, if one were so inclined, make any number of rude jokes 
incorporating the word "gun".

Close-up of the simple but poignant instructions.
We do love clear signage!

We have no idea what's going on here.

Or here.

Or, for that matter, here.

This isn't, frankly, much clearer.
It looks, however, like German Friend had an excellent Silvester!

We had an amusing and oh! so intellectual conversation with German Friend recently about the German word Trümmerfrauen, and are delighted to note that the word Trümmer is incorporated in the libretto of today's festive video! We're at risk of feeling so smug about this that we have to stop writing immediately, before our head explodes.

Festive video - Patricia Petibon, Der Hölle Rache Kocht in Meinem Herzen (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

Related Reading
Last time we mentioned German Friend, and discovered the concept of the mysterious New year's Email: A Blog Post of Astonishing Clarity
A very German post: A Germane Issue
One of the most exciting things to have happened during 2013: The Existentialist Toilet Is, Perhaps, Here
Another post with a festive Mozart video: Up in the Air - Introducing Exuberant Archaeologist Friend
All posts about German Friend

In other news:
Have you considered turning your back on mindless consumerism and instead benefiting mankind by spending a penny on Oxfam Unwrapped, WaterAid, or ToiletTwinning? Or why not donate to Amnesty International, or your local women's shelter?
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