Thursday, 30 April 2015

How to Love Handles

A zinging good evening to you all! As all our regular readers are doubtless aware, tonight is Walpurgis Eve, which means it's time to banish evil spirits using a combination of fire and ancient pagan rituals. This brings us seamlessly to the topic of today's Friend contribution.

Welsh Gangster Friend says:

I'm in Newport's newest pub, Urban Pop Up. 
I love the toilet door handle mechanism.

This is certainly highly satisfactory.

When asked whether the door handle "[clicked] in a satisfactory way, or was [...] just a joy to use, plain and simple?", Welsh Gangster Friend replied, "I just appreciated only having one thing. None of this handle AND lock nonsense. A handlelock. Way forward". 
We agreed that this was "A beautiful concept indeed! And it looks as though one could operate it with one's elbow, thus avoiding having to touch it - two rampant OCD thumbs up!", to which Welsh Gangster Friend added, "I believe you could, yes. Possibly even your foot."
We love engaging in these stimulating exchanges with our friends!

Actually we've been involved in a lot of hyper-intellectual debates with friends recently (one fruitful topic is, for example, "Can one rampantly internet-stalk Richard Armitage and still call oneself a feminist?"), as well as engaging in many other knackering intellectual, semi-intellectual and even athletic activities, and are only prevented from falling into a lengthy drool-inducing coma by our dedication to the noble cause of toilet-bloggery and rum-drinking.

We feel an urgent need to put our metaphorical feet up, swill some tea (yes, alright, just a dash of rum, if you insist), and delight in Audiologist Friend's recent artistic contribution to the blog, called "A bathroom in Reykjavík".

Note the lines! The light! The playful destruction of conventional planes of authentication
and the subversive autonomies of the concept of truth!
(For more intellectually valid art criticism, see our classic blog post Brownian Motion.
(We just love modern art, don't you?))
Note, above all, the festive reflection of Audiologist Friend in the flush buttons!
(If you enjoy almost seeing people, see our label Almost Seeing People.)
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is as coherent and intellectual as this blog is going to get today. Tally-ho!

We know we had a festive Kacey Musgraves video very recently (and also slightly less recently), but a lot of the issues mentioned in this song seem to be relevant at Privy Counsel HQ just now, not least the matter of people pissing in our garden.

Festive Video - Kacey Musgraves, Biscuits

Related Reading
All posts about Welsh Gangster Friend
All posts about Audiologist Friend
If you enjoy contemplating art and the meaning of life, we highly recommend our classic post Brownian Motion, or, Brownout, or, A Brown Study - Semi-Intellectual Friend's Shower, which features Semi-Intellectual Friend and a post-post-modern, deconstructuralist shower
We are great fans of modern art at the Privy Counsel
Turns out that Almost Seeing People is a fruitful area of research

Not Strictly Related, But Totally Thrilling, Reading
Our friend Jane's latest intellectual blog post. Seriously, if you are into medieval stonemasonry, YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO MISS THIS POST.

Friday, 24 April 2015

"Drunken Routs, in Which More Things Were Broken Than Heads and Furniture, Sister!"

What are archives for, if not to be delved into? We've got a juicy exchange of uncategorizable social media messaging drivel for you, with illustrations of Irish or possibly Scottish toilets! Said uncategorizable social media messaging drivel is from more or less exactly a year ago, and was occasioned by an unusually vile, even for us, hangover.

But first, let us have one of those sickeningly hearty tales of non-disappointment which we promised, in our last post, that we would make into a regular feature. So without further ado, let us register our lack of disappointment when, at the gym a couple of weeks ago, the lady in reception let us go in for free because we didn't have our bank account details with us, and thus couldn't renew our membership. Our lack of disappointment on this occasion was pretty staggering.

Let us quickly stop being sentimental, however, and move on to tales of drunken debauchery from the Privy Counsel archive! Below is a fairly typical exchange between us and Semi-Intellectual Friend (written in - yes! - the first person! This is how we normally express ourselves, believe it or not, when communicating with close friends):

4 May 2014, 3:57 am
Privy Counsellor:

4 May 2014, 4:05 am
Privy Counsellor:
I just made myself sick behind a bus stop. Charming. 
4 May 2014, 5:18am
Privy Counsellor: 
I think i got home ok. 
4 May 2014, 7:15am
Privy Counsellor:
Should i really have to out up with this kind if indignity? Can someone please tell my stomach that it's all [Friend Who Shall Remain Nameless]'s fault?
Put up with. Gaah. 
4 May 2014, 1:08pm
Semi-Intellectual Friend:
Sorry. All that deserves something more.
4 May 2014, 7:08 pm
Privy Counsellor:
Fuck you. I've spent all day throwing up undigested rye bread. 
4 May 2014, 7:24 pm
Semi-Intellectual Friend:
That's fair. I got you some photos to make it up to you (though I took them last night, so it was kind of premeditated making it up to you, before I even knew I would have anything to make up. I guess it was a safe assumption). 
This toilet was totally uninteresting - too uninteresting for the blog, really, sorry - but I thought you might like to see it anyway due to its use of a carpeted floor. Carpet? In a toilet? Is there any precedent for such madness? Maybe they thought that making it really ugly carpet might make up in some way for its strangeness. I'm not sure. 
I would probably have taken some more photos but I was interrupted by some bastard who actually wanted to use the toilet, so it was either leave or linger, take some more photos, involving a man going to the toilet, and look (with good reason in this case) like a pervert.
And then my phone died. So it was a pleasure to turn on my phone this afternoon and discover the series of events that happened to you last night, from the five-hour gap from your 10pm message to OH MY HOD I'M SO DRUNK and you getting pissed at your stomach for it misattributing responsibility, like a perfect stomachwanker.
My Sunday last week was basically the same, minus rye bread.  



4 May 2014, 7:35pm
Semi-Intellectual Friend:
Oh. I was at a wedding, btw. And I did get really drunk (FREE! BAR!), but the tower of deep fried black pudding and haggis chicken I ate (at a pub down the road because I wasn't cool enough to actually get invited to the meal [long story]) seems to have insulated my stomach against all harm. 
[lots of stuff taken out for the benefit and continued sanity of our readers] 
4 May 2014, 9:03 pm
The Privy Counsellor:
There. I've drunk a cup of water. Took me three hours, but I did it. Don't say I haven't spent my evening productively. 
[lots of stuff taken out, etc]

5 May 2014, 11:31 am
The Privy Counsellor:
I have terrible stomach cramps. I think that, maybe, spending six hours doing little else than drinking whisky, in combination with not eating anything for approximately 30 hours, wreaks havoc on one's insides. 
How's your work going, anyway?
[there is more but we think this is enough debauchery to be getting on with for now]

Ooh la la - fairly Bridget Jones-esque, no? Like Bridget Jones, we like to think that we manage to keep on keeping on thanks to a network of friends, connected by social media (telephony is just, like, so nineties). 

There was a time in our life when we found it remarkably hard to keep on keeping on, and only maintained our grip thanks to a) a helpful network of friends administering b) equally helpful amounts of whisky, and c) playing this song, featured today as a Festive Video, on non-stop repeat.

We Clutch Desperately at Straws, and Try to Cheer Everyone Up with One of Jonny's Pictures

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Failing to Be Disappointed: Tudor Friend's Tudor-Era House

The awesome thing about being a battle-hardened, misanthropic old pessimist is that every now and then, people will fail to disappoint you. The unexpected lack of disappointment will cause a cavalry regiment of champagne-swilling endorphins, unknown to the credulous optimist, to come charging into your brain, sabres waving, helmets askew. Tally-ho! they will roar, while riding round and round in triumph, waving standards and letting fly balloons. This is just the law of averages.

For instance, one might be overwhelmed by a lack of disappointment when the kind W H Smith employee at Birmingham airport offers to post one's postcards for one when one has realised one has forgotten and there is no postbox in the airport, meaning one's favourite 96-year-old will get one's missive after all.
One might be heartened when a dangerous-looking young man, who one is secretly praying won't stab one in the eye, makes an exquisitely polite after-you gesture at one when one is negotiating one's way through a doorway.
Or one might go visit Tudor Friend for a cheese-and-Jane-Austen-orgy and find that she really does live in a Tudor-era house, and it looks like this:

Inside Tudor Friend's bathroom!
Hooks! Wooden beams! Woof!
A somewhat blurry close-up (blame the 47 different kinds of booze in Tudor Friend's liquor cabinet)
of the delightful, old-fashioned door-lock.
This photo is taken from outside one toilet, looking towards the other.

Tudor Friend suspects that these are original 18th-century Dutch tiles.
Like these ones! Or these!

The tiles would appear to illustrate the life of that notorious cheese-loving saint, St Hoojar.

This is the view from the spare bedroom! Huzzah!

The outside of the house is alright, we suppose.

Do you feel soothed, consoled, and invigorated? We sure as hell do!

Now for a festive video - let's hear Dolly Parton describing the first time she used a flush toilet! (Many thanks to Jezebel.) Please pardon the vulgar illustrations - we didn't make them. 

Festive video - Dolly Parton Getting Dirty

Related Reading
If you, too adore beautiful tiles, more are found here:
Blogging Something Rotten
We Receive a Postcard
All posts about Tudor Friend
If you're into historical plumbing, we've got posts about medieval plumbing and Roman plumbing

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Sober As a Judge

This post is going to be all about retrospection. There's been a lot of reminiscence going on recently - a trip to York, where we misspent a portion of our youth; historical toilet-related ponderings; and happening upon some stuff we wrote years ago and which caused us to laugh heartily at long-forgotten memories of rickshaw-wallahs, goats, and Tiny Friendly Ladies.

The historical toilet-related ponderings were occasioned by a postcard we received at Privy Counsel HQ. It contained an appeal for enlightenment! We were, obviously, flattered to be appealed to as a source of wisdom and knowledge. We're highly susceptible to flattery, and prone, when exposed to it, to go off on a long, rambling tangent. Don't say you weren't warned:

We love beautifully written cards!

Dear Privy Counsellor, 

As a frequent traveller, I've come across many, many public toilets but I continue to be disturbed by those which charge a fee for use. I understand that this helps with maintenance but I find it galling to have to pay for a service which is unavoidable in any socially acceptable manner. One cannot just choose to not have to "go". The fact that these bathrooms charge via a correct-change-only system, without any was to make or receive change, is an additional problem. Also, when one needs the loo desperately, one does not always have time to search about for coins or fiddle around with barriers. Does the learned counsellor have an opinion on this issue? Are there any movements afoot to make toilets an uncharged right for all? 

Pissed-Off Traveller

We were thrilled to recieve this glorious picture of Cliffords Tower, in York!

Woof! Where to start? One is tempted, in these instances, to begin with historical precedence. Why not start in the Middle Ages? 
Having reached that comfortable eminence where one can quote oneself without embarrassment, we are going to scatter modesty to the winds, and ponder these singularly well-written words, from our post The Historic Toilet Tour of York:
During the Middle Ages, it was fairly common to stipulate the building of a public privy in your will. Thus, people could sit, shit and pray for your immortal soul. With the Reformation, however, this laudable practice was flushed away, and it wasn't till the 19th century that public lavatories started becoming common again - for men, that is. The assumption was that respectable women didn't roam the streets anyway, and so had no need for public toilets. Also, fashions dictating large skirts may have made it possible for women to do their business without anybody noticing.

We're not usually in favour of historical regression, but surely the kind of mindset where the institution of public toilets is considered a charitable, admirable act is laudable? (Though we advise against the building of toilets on bridges, jutting out over the water, medieval-style.) Maybe if more people were to leave money to the founding of public toilets in their wills, the world would be a better place.

One can also pause here, for a moment, to relish one's rampant dislike of the Victorians, that colonialist, misogynist pack of antimacassar-crocheters and wall-to-wall-carpet-obsessives. As usual, one can blame everything on them. They couldn't even handle the thought of women going to the toilet without fetishising it and turning it into a social problem. 
(If you want, by the way, tips on Victorian crinolines, and specifically how to turn a skirt spread over one into a private, one-woman discreet-urination-tent, then ask Tudor Friend. That woman possesses some serious life skills!)

To dwell briefly on the Victorian era and its penchant for making a profit from people's bodily functions, let us ponder, again, that splendid entrepreneur and chancer, Mathias Weibull. To once more quote ourselves:
[In 1889, Weibull wrote to] Malmö City Council to seek permission to erect "simple but neat" "cleanliness kiosks", provided with "self-operating peat-dust machines". Mathias Weibull expressed concern with the dangerous evaporations of human waste products, and the epidemics they may give rise to if left untended. Weibull generously offered to arrange for the carting away of the waste and the peat, and explained that he intended to charge the public 5 öre for use of the peat closets, and 2 öre for the pissoirs. The author even got the professor we love to hate, Seved Ribbing (his opinions on peat toilets may be sound, but his views on syphilitic women were shocking), to write an endorsement of the hygienic suitability of the plan!
Basically, this dude wanted to induce people to pay for the privilege of producing manure for his farm. You can't help but admire his cheek!

Nor is the habit of charging money for public toilets limited to Europe; we spent a rupee to spend a penny on one memorable occasion in Bangalore. A useful tip, which we're giving away free, is to never, ever use the toilet marked "Western toilet" when in India. These loos are invariably filthy - using the ordinary squat toilet is infinitely more hygienic and enjoyable!

One final observation: When meeting up with Shewee Fiend Friend recently, we made the journey to our rendezvous by train, and found ourselves obliged to use a train station toilet in the Midlands. Exactly as described in the postcard above, we didn't have exact change, and were thus robbed of 20 p. Small change, perhaps, but an important moral and legal principle. However. We learned something!

A teenage girl, entering the stile before us, showed her friend how to avoid having to pay: you pull the stile gently towards you. The locking mechanism will then be released, and you can comfortably push the stile forward and enter the toilets without spending a single penny. Provided that there is no attendant of course - we wouldn't want our readers to get caught in criminal activities! (Speaking of attendants, read about our favourite toilet attendants ever here and here.)

We hope that answers your query, Pissed-Off Traveller!

Now. This post is FAR FROM OVER. You can all sit prettily down again, and continue paying attention.

Our rendezvous with Shewee Fiend Friend took place in what was, in the carefree days of our youth, our favourite pub - The Judge's Lodging! Many is the evening we have spent here, quaffing beer until the Gothic grammar, with which we chose to occupy our minds in those days, made sense! (It usually takes a couple of pints at least. Needless to say, it's when Matthew starts waxing lyrical on the subject of fornication that he finally becomes lucid.)
We posted a couple of pictures from this notorious academic-infested drinking hole recently, and were promptly informed, via social media, that the toilets have been redone and look pretty damn splendid these days. (Indeed, the whole pub has had a makeover.) We set out to investigate. Here's what we found:

Pretty damn fine!

We apologise for the blurriness of this picture - we can't even give drunkenness
as an excuse, for reasons we will explain below. Does this black cast-iron heater
remind us of something, however? You bet it does - check out this heater in Worcester Cathedral!

There's certainly plenty of bog roll!

These tiles are very attractive.


Also, the toilet-roll holder would have benefited from having an actual toilet roll in it.

These sinks are beautiful, and no mistake! Woof!

Mixer taps are a balm to the soul.

This beauty is a Doulton's Improved Foot Warmer when it's at home.
Remember that time when we went on a Doulton rampage?
And that other time, when we also went on a Doulton rampage?

All in all, we were very pleased with the new toilets in the Judge's Lodging! They were clean and beautiful, and the sinks were a joy to wash one's hands in! Though of course WE FIND THE LACK OF A COAT-HOOK A SERIOUS OMISSION. However, THE GLARING LACK OF A COAT-HOOK TO HANG ONE'S BAG FROM was our only complaint. Three cheers and a roaring huzzah for the Judge's Lodging toilets! Also the staff were very nice and helpful.

Due to a medical emergency, Shewee Fiend Friend was unable to drink alcohol during our visit to York. Apparently, however, you can get beer that doesn't contain any alcohol.

Yeah, we know.

We don't understand the whys and the wherefores, either, but the fact remains that we were able to purchase said alcohol-free drinks in the supermarket, and park ourselves in the very warm and joy-inducing sunshine, in the soft grass, with our backs to the sturdy and protective Cliffords Tower! (Built to subdue the populace - on a sunny day, one likes to forget the cruel and bloody history behind picturesque erections.) Once again, however, we have to warn our readers not to engage in unlawful behaviour - it turns out that actually, sitting with one's back to Clifford's Tower while drinking beer, even if alcohol-free, is illegal. So don't do that! But take our word for it - it was HIGHLY ENJOYABLE.

Engaging in a very enjoyable illegal activity.

This, ladies and gentlemen, brings us full circle - back to Cliffords Tower, were we started our journey! Indeed, after being turfed off the tower knoll, we and Shewee Fiend Friend betook ourselves and our strange, alcohol-free beverage to the waterside, and ended up sitting in the exact spot that you can see in the postcard.

Let's have a festive video and get Saturday night going!

Festive video - Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, Going Up the Country

Related Reading
All posts about York
All posts about Shewee Fiend Friend
Our classic post on Mathias Weibull:
19th-Century Toilet Letter: A Delight from Start to Fin(n)ish!
Our classic post on the toilet history of York:
The Historic Toilet Tour of York
All posts about public toilets

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Apparently There Was a "Best Norwegian Café" and "Best Latin Translation" Competition, and Here Are the Winners!

Woof! Once again we find ourselves absolutely overwhelmed by exuberantly wonderful photographs of toilets! The mood at Privy Counsel HQ is hazardously gleeful for a bog-standard Wednesday evening. Good things that have been happening this week are: festive hobnobbing with our favourite 96-year-old, ice-cream, and feminist t-shirts. Bad things include early mornings, and fire drills.

However, we have made a vow to try to include something heartening in every blog post. And actually, today we have not one but TWO heartening events to report! Surprisingly, both occurred at the supermarket, within minutes of each other.
First, an old lady gave us a tip-off about a secret free till further down, sparing us several minutes of mindless supermarket queueing, and, when we were collecting our shopping, a young boy picked up a valuable item, which we had dropped on the floor without noticing, and jolly well returned it to us! In a polite manner! Really, we sometimes have to restrain ourselves in order not to burst with surprised joy when people successfully act like civilised beings. (At this moment we are choosing to not start a rant about the way Scandiwegian people behave on trains.)

In order to celebrate the joy of life and the darling buds of spring bursting and sprouting forth from thickets and shrubberies throughout the length of the land or at least in the more clement-weathered parts, let's have a friendly picture from Scandiwegia! This will remind us of all the things we love about this area of the globe - namely, the heating, plumbing, and sanitation - and take our mind off the extensive train-related rudeness prevalent in the region.

We are taking this moment to introduce Audiologist Friend, who has actually, however, featured in a previous post - that one from last summer when we were staggeringly hungover. Audiologist Friend says, "På det här fiket dricks Norges bästa kaffe," which we are translating as "Slave, stop your harpsichord-playing this instant and show me the way to the vomitorium".

This is apparently the toilet in a café in Norway,
where you can get the best coffee in the entire country!
Does this, friends, remind us of something? But naturally! We are struck with happy memories from the best toilet in England, which happens, funnily enough, to be located in a café!  If you haven't been to Café Treff in Ambleside yet, then throw yourself on the first donkey cart bound for the Lake District! Hasten, hasten! Leave the children behind! Hang the cat! Get on that donkey cart and GO!

Since we're talking about things that are best in their respective categories, let us take a moment to appreciate the best ever translation. Our mum, being ever helpful, kind, and rampantly intellectual, helped us translate the infinitely useful phrase "From the idiocy of random dudes on the internet deliver us, O Lord" into Latin. Here it is, for your enjoyment. You're welcome.

A stultitia fortuitarum personarum simplicium in Interrete vagantes libera nos, Domine.

We find this phrase enormously satisfactory - to the point where we have to let out another Woof!

Because we're feeling red-hot and full of pizzazz, and because we just can't get enough of androcentric narratives that pander to heteronormative stereotypes, let's have this festive video:

Festive video - Ennio Morricone, A Gringo Like Me (performed by Peter Tevis)

Related Reading
The best toilet in England:
Café Treff, Ambleside: The Best Toilet in England!
The best toilet in Iceland:
A Splendid Christmas Present: The Best Toilet in Iceland!
Get more Clint Eastwood action (of the dirty kind) here:
Privy Counsel Pin-Up: Clint Eastwood, or, Black-and-White Baths, or, Dirty Men with Guns
Read more about androcentric narratives here:
Ten Things that Feminism Has Ruined for Me

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Cheese and Worcester

We've been away on a spiritual retreat involving a) staggering amounts of cheese, b) mindboggling amounts of booze, and c) lascivious and unrestrained viewing of period dramas, and are not quite au courant with recent events. However, we gather that some kind of religious hoopla has been happening, about which many people apparently give several fucks.
We thought we'd encourage this lunacy by going all ecclesiastical on your asses, then sit back and enjoy the ensuing confusion.

Remember when Tudor Friend sent us pictures from Worcester Cathedral? (Actually this happened twice - view the pictures here and here.) Well, we were unable to restrain ourselves from visiting this worthy sanctuary personally, and seeing the glory of the lavatories ourselves.

This is the entry to the inner sanctum.
The red sandstone was one of many types of sandstone used to build Worcester Cathedral;
read all about all the different kinds here.
A charming transition from basilica to bog!

A not-so-charming use of phallic and annoying separated taps.

We believe we have already criticised the disability-hostile flush handle.

However, this coat-hook is both stylish and functional, and sets our heart on fire!

This beautiful laver, or lavatorium - essentially, a handwashing trough - can be viewed
in the priory part of the cathedral. Read more about it here.

A 19th-century heater.
Because damn, bitches be cold.

"It's just a fleshwound."
Puritanical desecration lead to this dude losing multiple limbs.

Regular readers will remember our favourite British-tap-bashing video, Public Information Film - UK separate taps. (Remember the HURT protocol - Haste, Use your ears, React, and Teach your children!) We now have the very great joy of announcing that we have found another gem of a video! Seriously, people, this is one of the best videos we've seen in a long time! (And we've seen many.)


Festive video - Evolution of British Plumbing

Related Reading
It Is Tolerable, We Suppose: A Privy Counsel Pick-Me-Up
Privy Counsel Pin-Up: Ablutions with Toby

Previous musings on Easter:
Lighthearted Easter Musings
Taps, Wine, and Elvis!
Whether You Believe in Jebus Or Not: Unbelievably Rampant Linguistic Musings!

Our own post on the evolution of British plumbing:
The History of Plumbing: A Recap
More on the history of British plumbing:
The Victorians - An Edifying History Lesson
Our classic rant about British taps:
Are You British? Does Tap Sanity Elude You?
Our favourite post on Jane's scrumptious blog, Temple of Janus, which features monastic plumbing: Ruinlust
Our most recent rant on the subject of taps:
Kick-Arse Suffragette Friend: Causing Quite a Stir!
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