Wednesday, 2 December 2015

A Huge Rollercoaster of a Blog Post, Featuring Cesspools, Cholera, and Corpse Toilets - with a Gratuitous Picture of Sean Connery Thrown In!

We deal with many first-world problems at the Privy Counsel. For instance, we worry about not having the time or inclination to buy new socks; whether we are sufficiently well-informed about Hammurabi's law code; and the fact that Privy Counsel HQ is infested with horrible, cocky fruit-flies which REFUSE TO DIE.

Another delicious problem we have is that our friends send us too much wonderful material, and that we just don't have time to deal with it all. Sometimes we consider starting some kind of web shop to raise enough funds to employ a sub-editor. But most likely we'd end up blowing all the money on a booze-fuelled trip to Japan, to check out the toilets. Also we're too lazy.

This blog post is an attempt to catch up with all the material that's gathered in our dank, spider-web-bedecked archive. Braving the angry pheasants who live there, we tiptoed in and extracted the most recently crammed-in items of marvel and wonder. (As regular readers know, we imagine, no doubt for sane and normal reasons, our picture archive as a crypt out of The Monk.)

This is going to be quite a long blog post, and we don't have any pictures that fit in naturally here. To motivate you to keep reading till the end, here's a picture from the public domain, illustrating London tap water in the 19th century. (More on this further down. Keep reading.)

First of all, Tudor Friend sent us this picture of a pretty mosaic bog floor.

Then Tudor Friend informed us that Facebook's algorithms constantly put weird toilet-related articles her way, like for instance this one about how physicists create "urine black holes" to solve the splashback problem. Quite interesting reading, if you wear chinos and/or urinate a lot.

AND THEN. And then, and then, and then - Tudor Friend sent us a link to a blog post entitled Consider the putridarium! This eminent piece of writing is about corpse toilets in Italian church crypts! As in, yes, toilets for corpses! You can imagine our excitement when coming across sentences such as,
Obviously the post-Vatican II Kumbaya guitar mass never really caught on there,  
and, your eyeballs are pretty much guaranteed to stare into the empty sockets of a skull in any given church you walk into.
Woof! This is a blog after our own heart! We don't dare reproduce any of the pictures for fear of  mortuary-related reprisals, but we highly recommend checking out this highly festive collection of bloggage.

What's next on our list of awesomeness? Oh, yes! Jezebel's pictorial exposé of Victorian London's methods of dealing with shit is a goldmine of resplendent phrases. Essentially a summary of Lee Jackson's book Dirty Old London, Jezebel's pictorial takes you through every aspect of Victorian shit management: the leaking cesspools, the appalling water quality, the turds floating in the Thames, the cholera. The tone is set in the opening sentence:
Give or take a couple of grand town houses and ambitious parks, nineteenth-century London was essentially a giant shit-smeared refuse heap beer-battered in coal dust.

This picture is also from the public domain and was captioned, last time we used it, "Turns out he knew something, John Snow". We're still sniggering. Oh, and another funny pun we made, earlier today, was when we compared ourselves to a fictional Johnny Cash song called "Rabid Old Hag". Snort, snort.
We are thankful every day that we have access to clean water and functioning plumbing! When we started this blog, it was specifically to rant about crap plumbing, because Privy Counsel HQ was situated in the UK, where people seem have a hard time realising that the 19th century, like, ENDED. Now that we are more Scandiwegian-oriented, we have very little to complain about, plumbing-wise, and have taken to rant more about other things, like feminism. It appears that human rights is another area where people have a hard time realising that the 19th century ended and that we are, in fact, living in the 21st century now. It would be nice, we think, if everyone could at least step into the 20th century, both in terms of plumbing, and human rights.

We would like to take this moment to express our satisfaction with the latest Bond film, which we went to see with Our Mum, a rampant Bond fan, yesterday. Except for the moment of panic when Bond casually strolled into Monica Bellucci's house and snogged her against a mirror, in a way that we thought normalised sexual violence in a very dangerous way, we were pleased to note that Spectre was actually fairly enlightened in its take on gender equality. For instance, both the main female characters had actual, real, bodies and faces. And, like, jobs. This, we thought, was a nice break from the tradition of having Bond girls being mere ethereal wraiths, with boobs.
Also, we thought what a comforting feeling it was to see a Privy Counsel location, namely Courchevel altiport, featured in a Bond film. However, we were - unusually, for us - deluded. A Google search told us that Courchevel altiport wasn't in Spectre but in Tomorrow Never Dies. Whatever.

Here's a gratuitous picture of Sean Connery in the bath. The magnitude of Connery's trend-setting may be gathered from the fact that even Bishop Brennan emulated him. Image from mouchegallery.

So far so encouraging. May we just take moment, before we get to the Festive Video, to enjoy a photo of manspreading? We've ranted a fair amount about mansplaining on this blog, but haven't quite got around to manspreading yet. However, the other day someone reminded us of the existence of the Manspreading blog, and we thought this was a delightful illustration of this phenomenon:

We wouldn't want to speculate on how much time of our life we've spent pressing our knees, elbows and bags against our body to avoid taking up space that a man feels entitled to fill. Image from Mentakingup2muchspaceonthetrain.
Oh, and another thing that happened recently was we did a Google search to find out if there is a patron saint of plumbing, and THERE IS. His name is Vincent Ferrer.

Tea has been a popular topic of conversation at Privy Counsel HQ of late. Making tea is also an effective way of avoiding cholera, and other water-borne diseases. (Make sure you boil the water for at least one minute.)

Festive video - Kasey Musgraves, Cup of Tea

Related Reading

If you want to help other people avoid diseases caused by inadequate sanitation and plumbing, consider donating to Oxfam or WaterAid. Or, now that Christmas is looming, buy a festive Oxfam Unwrapped gift for a friend or loved one!

All posts featuring cholera

Specifically, the Cholera Babe Parade

Specifically about John Snow and cholera: Plumbing, Blessed Plumbing

A comical tale about cholera in the wild, wild West: A Rootin', Tootin' Toilet Tale

All posts featuring sewers

Specifically featuring sewers and medieval French

To read about what people got up to in York in the days of yore, check out The Historic Toilet Tour of York

York sanitation issues specific to the Viking Age: Jorvik: In Rude Health

More historic health hazards: Book Club: Cocoa and Corsets

1 comment:

  1. Please be aware that we don't publish spam comments. Don't waste your time - use the time you would have spent writing gibberish in this comments field to drink tea, adopt a dog from a shelter, or call your grandmother.
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