Thursday, 30 December 2010

Toilet Paper: A Pain in the Arse?

Everyone loves puppies. Puppies are soft and lovely, yes. But what kind of advertising executive seriously thinks they can persuade people that, by wiping their bottom with a certain kind of toilet paper, their arse will become as soft and lovely as - a puppy? A British one, apparently. One day, a sociological study into the British obsession with soft toilet paper will doubtless be undertaken. Until then, we can only speculate.

Theories have been presented, but until there is proper scientific research, we won't be able to see the wood for the trees, the latter having been chopped down to make toilet paper. Britons are some of the most dedicated users of toilet paper in the world, yet a despairingly low percentage of British bog roll is made of recycled paper. Recycled bog roll uses 50 % less energy to produce than brand-spanking-new toilet tissue. Using virgin fibre to produce bog roll is, as we all know, ludicrous. If you start adding chemicals like perfume and softeners, toilet paper becomes an ecological nightmare.
But the puppy is adorable!

You can now have matching bog roll and knickers!
Er, sexy...

Thanks to Andrex, you can now accessorise in ways previously unimaginable! First, buy the shea butter toilet paper, thus making your arse as soft as a puppy dipped in an industrial vat of shea butter. Then purchase the matching knickers with a special shea butter panel - never experience that uncomfortable unmoisturised feeling again!

Yes, really. This is a thing.

Because your arse is worth it

The implication seems to be that your
bum will become as soft as a quilt.
But do you really want a somnolent arse?
The packaging's got the word "natural" on it
- must be environmentally friendly!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Far From the Madding Crowd: A Walkers' Dilemma

Did you find yourself having to heed the call of nature while out for a walk this Christmas? Was it a pain in the arse? Did you end up resenting, and perhaps heartily cursing, those among your male acquaintance who can casually relieve themselves against any tree, without having to worry about privacy?
Well, you can stop fretting now, thanks to a nifty little gadget called the Shewee! In our opinion, this is one of the most important steps towards equality between the sexes since women's suffrage. Women no longer have to expose their behinds to inclement weather, but can heed the call of nature in comfort!

Looks pretty space-agey and stylish, too!
Related Reading:
Ladies, Don't Take Life Sitting Down!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Memorable Toilets: One Whitehall Place

Recent excesses have brought back happy memories of toilets past. We especially remember those of One Whitehall Place, where we attended the wedding of some dear friends on one happy occasion, as being exceptionally clean and enjoyable to use. Due to a certain measure of over-consumption, we ended up getting a close look at one of the toilets, and we assure our readers that we have never come across anything so clean in our lives! You could perform open-heart surgery on that toilet and not suffer any ill effects. Hygeia recommends this place warmly!

One Whitehall place. Image from

Friday, 24 December 2010

We Wish You a Flush Christmas!

 Monkey has many fans worldwide, not only in his native Ape Town, and he would like to wish them all "a super merry Christmas" (and sneakily show off some of his many presents)!

We join in the well-wishes, and remind you to check on your pipes! Spending the holidays up to your knees in freezing water and unable to make yourself a cup of tea the morning after the night before does not promote Christmas cheer!

Remember also that as well as being an opportunity to get festively drunk in a whirl of pagan merrymaking, Christmas is a good time to do a good deed and consider those less fortunate than oneself. Perhaps even consider some hygiene for the soul?

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Leaky Pipes - A Tale of Cold Weather and Incontinence

Are you sitting down? Good. We have some disturbing images for you today. Not strictly toilet-related, but don't worry - we haven't slipped into the comforting bath of senility just yet - it's about plumbing. 

We've been back to the Average British Workplace where, thanks to the bracing weather we've had, a pipe had burst! As we're all aware, British pipes are drawn on the outside of the wall in the bracing air, to stop them growing up spoilt. This means that they're extremely likely to freeze in bracing weather. But on the other hand, they're so much easier to fix when they do freeze! The British plumber likes to keep things uncomplicated! Be that as it may, here's what happened at the Average British Workplace when a pipe burst, flooding the basement floor.

Diligently mopping the floor.
(It only took about three hours to sort out!)

Shelves were harmed
during the production of this photo

An attempt to remedy the problem using silica gel bags was only partially successful;
however, they made an amusing crackling noise that kept us entertained for a good 30 seconds
The British Plumber says yes!
Related Reading

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Revisiting Academia: King's Manor, Main Toilets

 Reviewing the toilet in the CMS building was not enough to satisfy us, and we returned to the main King's Manor toilets for another review!

These toilets boast several clean cubicles, the walls of which all have a thrilling, institutionalesque colour, that yet possesses a certain elegance, and which we would be tempted to describe as eau-de-nil (Oscar Wilde just might have nodded in approval). The flush is the traditional horizontal lever, averagely wearisome to pull, and the loo roll is plain white and hygienically covered. The bin is close, but not so close as to press unpleasantly against one. The coat-hook is exemplary; robust and reliable.

Oscar Wilde says yes!

One is tempted to think that these toilets haven't changed much since they were built, we would guess sometime in the sixties. They contain some charming  original features, that just scream out their antiquity, like this sanitary bag holder.

"Supplied only by Southalls (Birmingham) Ltd"!

The taps, as one would expect, are separated. The hot water tap normally provides an abundance of flesh-singeing scalding water; however, we visited on a cold day, which ensured that the water was a rather pleasant temperature. The always well-filled soap dispensers are the by now rather famous, stylish University of York ones, and there is a notice reminding the toilet-goer to wash their hands frequently. There are thankfully no ancient air-dryers, just pleasant paper towels (and a bin which is continuously overflowing, with a notice from the cleaner asking people not to throw paper towels on the floor. You'd think that academics would be civilised enough not to need reminding, but as we all know only too well, every class of people contains barbarians).

Stylish but antiquated
Hygeia says yes!

Points: 7/15

King's Manor
Exhibition Sq.
University of York, York YO1 2EP
01904 328 431

Related Reading
Let's Get Medieval: King's Manor Toilet
The Berrick Saul Building at the University of York: Finally, a British Nod in the Direction of the 21st Century 
The Intellectual Streak Continues: Leeds University Library Bogs, or, Yorkshire Graffitti  
The Historic Toilet Tour of York

Friday, 17 December 2010

Caffè Nero Coppergate: Cocks, Valves, Nuts, Bolts, etc. In Short, Plumbing!

A friend of ours, who haunts Caffè Nero regularly, told us excitedly that there were visions of gleaming chrome and copper awaiting us in Coppergate. Apparently, according to our plumbing-experienced chum, the pipes are just to die for! So we went to investigate, hearts beating just that little bit faster from the excitement.

Cleanliness-wise, these toilets are pretty good for Caffè Nero (we've been to worse ones, but not many better). The flush, as one would expect, is the standard horizontal lever, which is neither particularly hard nor particularly easy to operate. The loo roll is plain white, and the holder covered. The bin is at a pleasant distance from the user, and that, too, is covered.

There is an air dryer which we didn't dare use. The taps are, predictably, separated, although the hot water was a pleasant temperature rather than scalding; however we suspect this being due to the tap having been left running by the last user, thus using up most of the hot water. The soap is conventional. 

Conventional soap; conventional, depressing taps

Scary, scary air-dryer
This toilet lacks a coat-hook, but it is possible to hang one's jacket or bag from the door handle. The question is, however: does one want one's possessions in intimate contact with a toilet door handle? Hygieia says no!

Perfectly adequate for hanging things on, but oh! so unhygienic!

We've saved this bit till last: the plumbing! Although not technically gleaming, certainly worth the wait! Such precision!

Cocks, valves, nuts and bolts!

Perhaps dirty pipes are more exciting than clean ones?
Quite nice tiles, too!

Total points: 4/15

(We regret that we are unable to list an address for this branch of Caffè Nero, as their website is pretending it doesn't exist. But it's near the Jorvik centre, just opposite Clarks.)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Lost in Translation! Pipe Dreams: Japan

Readers, you may not believe this, but we have received complaints! Yes! There are people out there dying, not to go to the loo, but to read the article in Sydsvenskan that we mentioned in our last update! For those of you who can stand Scarlett Johansson, here's a translation into English of the linguistically challenged article about Japanese toilets:

Please note that the apparently untranslateable word "rumpdusch" means "arse shower". "Kiss" means "wee".

In case you just can't stand Scarlett Johansson, and thought Lost in Translation sucked, here's the article in Icelandic:

That's right, hamingjan býr í rumpdusch!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Pipe Dreams: Japan

Friends, readers, toilet-goers! Let us make a pilgrimage! Leaving this dreary, hygienically challenged island, let us go to Japan, a land flowing with, so to speak, milk and honey and automatic flushes! Wouldn't you want to live in a country where nobody urinates in public, where dog mess is ALWAYS dealt with, and where toilets give your arse a pleasant shower? Thought so. (The secret, apparently, is to have an arse-shower that decreases in strength 70 times per second - that gives the cleanest feeling. Aren't the Japanese marvellous?)
Read all about it in this (unfortunately linguistically challenged) article from Sydsvenskan!
Hurrah for Japan!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

St Mary Bishophill: Ecclesiastical Hygiene

We have been informed that it is quite common, at Christmastime, for one's thoughts to turn to holy things. A greater tolerance of one's fellow men, real or professed, is, we are assured, widespread. Since it's Sunday, and Christmas is approaching, we thought it appropriate to do a review of a church toilet. We happened to be in St Mary Bishophill Junior, incidentally the oldest church building in York, and had the pleasure of using the facilities there.

A heroic effort by the toilet roll holder to cover the bog roll, but unfortunately one which we can't recognise

The clean and roomy toilet is fully disability-adapted, with an easy-to-use flush and tap, although there is, alas, no hot water, despite a whizzy-looking water heater. The bin is hygienically covered. The toilet roll holder tries to cover the toilet roll, but despite heroic efforts, fails. At least the loo roll is plain white and without pretensions.

Rather lacking in divine fire

Lovely clean towels
Oh, what could have been!
A mixer tap - if only it had some hot water to mix!
The soap is the lovely Ecover soap, which smells divinely of lavender. There is a blessed absence of airdryers; instead, towels hang from the door. Normally we would deduct points for this practice, being unhygienic and impractical in a public toilet, but we happened to visit this church several days in a row for non-blog-related reasons, and noticed that the towels were changed every day.

The fan really sucks, in a good way

A fan sucks out damp air and provides noise cover. We don't remember seeing a coat-hook, but the door opens outwards, which makes it easier to exit without touching the door handle; we were tempted to award an extra half point for this, but refrained, as we don't believe in special treatment for churches.

A sight to cheer a cynical toilet reviewer: ecological cleaner, back-up soap, and sanitiser

Points: 6/15

St Mary Bishophill Junior
25 Trinity Lane, York YO1 6BY

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Jorvik: In Rude Health

Enjoying the wickerwork facilities in York

Continuing our probing of historical toilets, today we brace ourselves, reach for a lavender handkerchief, and take a glance at Viking toilets! If you haven’t yet seen the Toilet Man at the Jorvik Centre, go at once! Stop not to tie your shoelaces, nor to tell loved ones where you have gone, but hasten, hasten! One of our fondest childhood memories is buying a score of “scratch’n’sniff” postcards and sending them to friends and relatives. Is there any greater joy than having a postcard with a picture of a man on the bog, that you can smell? Well, quite.

While we don’t wish to perpetuate stereotypes, nonetheless it must be admitted that the Vikings, though admirable in many ways, were not renowned for their hygiene. The Norse population in York was no different. The archaeological records reveal some horrifying truths. At the excavation at 16-22 Coppergate, the volume of human faecal matter has been estimated[1] as over 45 m³. This means that the total volume of Viking poo in the city could be as much as 45,000m³. (It is believed that the Norse population ate plenty of fibre, keeping their digestive system in good working order.) However, with cess pits happily dug next to wells, hygiene suffered. Archaeologists have found large amounts of eggs of intestinal parasites, mainly whipworm and roundworm, in human faeces. One report states that “The numbers of eggs were sometimes so large that individuals may have carried heavy burdens of parasites at times”[2]
Lovely. We feel humbled, and vow to abstain from complaining about toilets today.

Related Reading
World Toilet Day - Taking Our Baths and Our Women
The Historic Toilet Tour of York
Þorsteins Þáttr Skelks: A Medieval Toilet Anecdote

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Berrick Saul Building at the University of York: Finally, a British Nod in the Direction of the 21st Century

After our brief plunge, so to speak, into the working man's toilet, we find ourselves craving the rarefied air of an academic environment. The Berrick Saul Building at the University of York is a pleasantly ventilated building, rich in airyness and cleanness of line. The loos are delightfully hygienic, and leave very little to desire.

Both the plain white toilet roll and the bin are hygienically covered, and cleanness and hygiene pervade throughout. The flush is not water-saving, but it is easy to push and cripple-friendly. Apparently, however, there are people who can't quite figure out how to use it, since this sign politely but firmly requests people to flush:

Undoing the pleasant impression of the sensible toilet and flush, the coat-hook is a pretentious nightmare in its useless designer poshness - it doesn't hold a coat and a rucksack! We do not enjoy putting our bag on the floor of  a public toilet.

Two very annoyed thumbs down!
The tap is a joy to use, being an easy-to-use mixer tap, which actually produces pleasantly warm water! The soap dispenser is the stylish University of York one, familiar to readers of this blog.

There is an air dryer, but we won't deduct any points for this one, since it is a Veltia Hand Drier, incorporating the Microban material. We haven't done enough research on this to be convinced of its hygiene- and eco-credentials, but apparently the Veltia hand dryer is both hygienic and environmentally friendly. The Privy Counsel is generally against air dryers, considering them archaic and unhygienic, and preferring revolving towels (more on this in an upcoming blog update) or, at a pinch, paper towels, despite the negative impact these have on the world's trees. This air dryer, however, may just be the perfect solution to our combined ecological and hygienic concerns!

As an interesting aside, the baby changing table is in the men's toilets. We have yet to decide whether this is a brave attack on stifling gender stereotypes, or a pragmatic utilisation of space.

 Points: 9/15

The University of York
York YO10 5DD
United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)1904 320000

Related Reading
Let's Get Medieval: King's Manor Toilet
Revisiting Academia: King's Manor, Main Toilets
The Intellectual Streak Continues: Leeds University Library Bogs, or, Yorkshire Graffitti 
 Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Toilet-Roll Holders (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Rook and Gaskill: Well, the Beer is Good

After our recent imperial flight of fancy, we have landed on mundane old planet Earth with a thump! (Quite literally; we fell down the stairs in a really quite painful accident. Now we sit here, applying plasters and thinking, obsessively, "Pride goes before a fall, pride goes before a fall".) We're done with imperial toilets for a while. Today, therefore, we take a look at the working man's toilet! The Rook and Gaskill is a down-to-earth pub on Lawrence Street, frequented mostly by ordinary people and bizarre, hairy foreigners.

The first thing we notice is the smell of stagnant mould. Then the lilac carpet hits our retinas with the impact of a Spitfire.

Apparently there are people who don't mind wall-to-wall carpets in toilets.  
Hygieia, however, says, "No! No no no no no no no!"

The toilet itself is relatively free of surprises, being fairly bog-standard (pun entirely intentional, and no apologies forthcoming). The toilet roll (plain white) and bin are covered; however, the spare toilet roll is lying unhygienically loose on top of the toilet. The flush is the tiresome, traditional horizontal lever, with a traditional level of awkwardness, requiring a fair amount of mechanical strength. The coat-hook is exemplary in its sturdiness.

Bog-standard pub bog
However, for some reason there is a skylight in the ceiling,
 which unavoidably causes one to worry about local perverts looking in.


Luckily, the only pervert in this picture is the weirdo taking pictures of toilets

The taps bring hopelessness to new levels, the "hot" caption on the hot tap being the customary fraud, but fortunately there is a bowl of pot-pourri on the side, and a sticker claiming to be a Certificate of Sanitation on the mirror, to lift the heart of a weary old toilet reviewer.

The soap is plentiful, and pink, and there is a depressing air-dryer on the wall.

Points: 3/15

The Rook and Gaskill
12 Lawrence Street 
York YO10 3WP 
Tel: 01904 674067 

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Imperial Aspirations: The Chiewitz Outdoor Privy in Espoo

With the upcoming royal wedding all over the media (especially the Readers' Letters in The Press), we find ourselves harbouring a desire for imperial glamour. Toilets for ordinary mortals are all very well, but our aspirations today are towards the God-given right to sit on a really fancy loo!

Picture by Islander at

This hexagonal building may look like a common-or-garden summerhouse, but actually it is a privy on an imperial scale! Designed by Georg Theodor Chiewitz, it was built at Träskända Gård in a town rather fittingly called Espoo, in Finland, solely for the comfort of Czar Alexander II, who visited in 1863. We hope he enjoyed it!

All information and picture from Wikipedia, which in turn has used material from Nordisk Familjebok (

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Goji in Goodramgate - Come for the Tea, Stay for the Toilets

We were tremendously excited to discover that our favourite café has got new toilets! This gem of an establishment, staffed entirely by friendly, soulful people, serves delicious vegetarian food (the Goji hotdog, served "with everything", is to die for!) and supplies its clientèle with delightful toilets.
On our recent visit, we discovered that the toilets have moved to the very top floor. They are extremely clean and fresh. 

Hurrah! A lovely, lovely toilet!
The flush is of the traditional, clumsy horizontal lever design, but nonetheless not too hard to push, even for the disabled and enfeebled. The toilet roll is plain white, but unfortunately not hygienically encased in a holder, and the spare roll also lies loose on top of the toilet (Hygeia says no!). The bin, however, is covered and at a comfortable distance from the user. The coat hook is excellent, but possibly placed a bit high for shorter toilet-goers.

Probably our second favourite soap in the whole world!
(You can get it at Oxfam Goodramgate)
Not too bad!
The hot water tap is an electrical horror, but, being new, works surprisingly well (though water is wasted due to a leak), supplying fairly warm water. The soap is excellent; organic, and with the fragrance of real lavender.

We lifted the bin lid with our feet
The paper towel holder is made by the near-ubiquitous Swedish company Tork, which indicates that the paper towels, if supplied by the same company, should be made from recycled fibres and/or sustainably sourced. There is a separate bin for paper towels, however the lid opens the wrong way. This makes it impossible to lift without touching, unless resorting to acrobatics.

36 Goodramgate,
York, North Yorkshire
Tel: 01904 622614

Monday, 29 November 2010

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, But Here's a Picture of a Lovely Soap

Rose gardens are regrettably few and far between, but at least here's a rose-scented soap to help you pretend you are in one! This is by far our favourite soap; it comes in an ergonomically sound and aesthetically pleasing bottle, it smells of roses, and it's been awarded the Scandinavian eco label, the green swan.

We've got a few exciting reviews up our sleeve, but it's currently too cold to pull them out. Let us content ourselves with noting, that heeding the call of nature while out in said nature (for instance while running 16 km in the snowy Yorkshire countryside with a toilet-obsessed acquaintance), is a cold business.
 If possible, stay indoors, and remember to wash your hands!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Let's Get Medieval: King's Manor Toilet

A toilet fit for medievalists!
We have a juicy treat in store for you today; an absolutely lovely toilet in an absolutely lovely building, in an absolutely lovely town!  As is perfectly clear from the description, we are talking about the toilet in King's Manor, York.  We were actually late for Intellectual Friend's reading group the other day, because we were so absorbed in taking pictures of this beautiful bog.

That this toilet is a disability toilet is evident from the spaciousness, alarm button, easy-to-use-flush, and wall supports (oh, and the sign on the door).  It is light and spacious, clean, and really smells quite nice.

It's really very comfortable. Note the disability-friendly flush

The sink has the kind of pointless mixer tap, so common in Britain, that usually doesn't actually work. However, this one does, surprisingly, eventually produce some lukewarm water (it was a cold day, and, as in all old English buildings, the water temperature changes with the weather).

Hurrah! A lovely tap! And it's disability-friendly!

The (rather stylish) soap dispenser dispenses pleasantly fragranced soap.  Like all proper English institutions, the University of York displays signs of frantic health-and-safety awareness; there is a poster informing one of the dangers of disgusting personal habits, and the importance of washing one's hands.

Really rather stylish
Most students blatantly disregard these guidelines, turning up with the most disgusting germs oozing out of every orifice

 The bin is covered, and at a pleasant distance from the toilet-goer, and there is an air dryer and a paper towel dispenser! Moreover, there is a separate bin for paper towels.

A most holy and encouraging trinity

There is no coat hook, but one can hang one's bag from the door handle, or put it on the windowsill, where a healthy-looking pot plant and a spare toilet roll add to the pleasantness of the room.

Such charming windows!

Points: 7/15

King's Manor
Exhibition Square
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