Wednesday, 30 January 2013

What Goes Around, Comes Around

We've had occasion recently to contemplate concepts like wheels of fortune, charts of the ages of man, etc. The idea of time and events being cyclical is common to many cultures, with an apocalyptic end to the human world bringing a new beginning. In this world view, the forces of creation and destruction are intrinsically linked; indeed, one cannot operate without the other, as anyone who's ever possessed a Lego set knows. People in the Middle Ages liked illustrating these notions in moralising books with plenty of illumination and other fancy stuff. Frankly, we think the image of a bloke on the bog with his bike is just as effective as an illustrative device, if not more so.

Our friend Jonny sent us this picture.

Jonny being philosophical.
A bit unappetising, perhaps, but we had one of those nights, and are momentarily inured to disgust. We promise to post something nice as soon as the hangover clears.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Toilet Hurling: The Sport of Kings

It really is lucky that our friends read the - for want of a better word - news. Otherwise we wouldn't know the following fascinating information about Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Now that we do, however, we are of course - for want of a better word - thrilled. Semi-Intellectual Friend alerted us to this BBC article:
The heir to the Dutch throne made a media splash by hurling a toilet for fun in a contest recently - but has now spoken of his shame.
Crown Prince Willem-Alexander said the event on Queen's Day last month was "a laugh", but he also felt "shame at the thought of some 2.6 billion people around the world" who lack toilets.
He won a cup with a little toilet on top as a prize.
The 30 April festivities were held in the eastern village of Rhenen.
The crown prince's younger brother Prince Constantijn also hurled a toilet in the contest, but not as far.
The annual festival marks the birthday of Queen Beatrix's late mother Queen Juliana.
The crown prince is also chairman of the UN's water and sanitation advisory board (UNSGAB) and the Dutch government's information service later insisted that he was not ashamed of his involvement in the contest.
He had taken part because the toilets were destined for a project in Gambia, it said.
Woof. The athletic Crown Prince hurling, not into the toilet, but a toilet.
(Struggling to get our heads round that one.) Image from Huffingtonpost
 The news of Queen Beatrix's abdication will, of course, mean that the toilet-hurling Crown Prince will soon become King of the Netherlands, a task which we imagine will be slightly less exciting than that of being King of Louisiana. The Queen of the United Kingdom reported on the abdication with her customary vim and stiff-upper-lipness:
"Text from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands: 'Bollocks to it, I'm abdicating'. No staying power, these European Queens."
Read more official news on the abdication here.

Related Reading
All posts about Royal Toilets
Posts highlighting sanitation issues in the developing world:
A Morally Improving Story for World Toilet Day
We Receive a Postcard
Taking a Gander at Greatness
Toilet Song: Soda Soap

Monday, 28 January 2013

Privy Counsel Pin-Up: Salvador Dalí

It keeps happening, we don't know how. No matter how much one resists - one may, for instance, pour neat gin down one's throat and play vulgar music at a loud volume - one somehow ends up in the space-time continuum labelled "Monday morning". In order not to give in to despair completely, we're posting a picture of Salvador Dalí in a bath-tub. After all, what's not to love about Salvador Dalí? Well, quite.

"There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction."
Dalí was a surrealist painter from Catalonia who loved sticking the metaphorical finger up at the world in general. He has many amusing quotes attributed to him. For instance, we learn from our chief source of information, Wikipedia, that "[Dalí] was [...] known to avoid paying tabs at restaurants by drawing on the checks he wrote. His theory was the restaurant would never want to cash such a valuable piece of art, and he was usually correct".

A Dalí-esque toilet? Image from Constructionjunction
In order to get through the day, somehow, let us try to adopt some Dalí-esque thinking.
"Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí, and I ask myself, wonderstruck, what prodigious thing will he do today, this Salvador Dalí."

Related Reading
Previous Privy Counsel Pin-Ups 
Privy Counsel Art

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Wasting Away: More Roman Bog Roll II

It's lucky our friends read the papers, even if we don't. Turns out the BBC, that eminent news machine, has cottoned onto the story we reported on yesterday, thanks to Norwegian Friend's studious news consumption. An article pointed out to us by another friend (really we have so many friends now that we don't know what to do with them all, although one idea would be to gather them all together and have a giant party)  says pretty much exactly what our post yesterday reported, but with the addition of a learned classical allusion. Apparently, a helpful toilet-related ancient Greek proverb said (and we recommend you take note):

"Three stones are enough to wipe one's arse".

(For more learned Greek musings, see this archive post.)

Historical toilet paper: so fascinating! This stuff is from the Castle Museum in York.
"This Paper guaranteed to be perfectly Pure and Free from all Injurious Ingredients.
Specially recommended for Water Closet  use, also as a Disinfectant and Deodoriser."

Related Reading
Wasting Away: More Roman Bog Roll
A Calamitous and Inflammatory Blend of Toilet paper and History
Historical Toilets, Baths, and Kitchens - A Useful and Humbling Lesson

Friday, 25 January 2013

Wasting Away: More Roman Bog Roll

Recent non-blog-related drinking activity renders us temporarily sluggish of intellect and short of attention span. The task of producing original material of our usual cerebral and entertaining standard is, we regret to announce, oh fuck it, we can't be bothered even finishing that sentence. Let us contemplate, for the sake of solace and diversion, this article sent to us by Norwegian Friend. The Telegraph writes:
A museum which kept ancient artefacts on display believing they were early gaming pieces has discovered they were actually used as a primitive form of toilet paper. The Roman artefacts, deliberately shaped into flat discs, have been in the collection at Fishbourne Roman Palace since the 1960s. And up until now the museum thought the items were used for early games, such as draughts. But, a British Medical Journal article has now proposed they have a very different function. The broken pieces range in size from 1 inch to 4 inches in diameter and were excavated near to the museum in Chichester, West Sussex in 1960. It is well publicised that Romans used sponges mounted on sticks and dipped in vinegar as an alternative to toilet paper. Yet, the idea these ceramic discs might also have been used is a revelation.
The Telegraph article has some absolutely spiffing images of the Roman toilet paper shards,
including one featuring a curator with the best beard we have ever seen on a curator, ever.
However, because there has to be some bloody limit to how much theft of the material of others
one indulges in even on a day plagued by hangovers and verbal diarrhoea
flung in every direction by the young, ignorant and abhorrent, we insert here one of our own pictures,
from the Historic Toilet Tour of York.
Museum curator Dr Rob Symmons said: "When pottery like this is excavated it is someone's job to wash it clean. So, some poor and unsuspecting archaeologist has probably had the delight of scrubbing some Roman waste off of these pieces. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that we could still find some further signs of waste or residue. However, these pottery pieces have no monetary value because we are essentially talking about items once used as toilet roll. The pieces had always been catalogued as broken gaming pieces but I was never particularly happy with that explanation. But when the article produced the theory they were used to wipe people's bums I thought it was hilarious and it just appealed to me. I love the idea we've had these in the museum for 50 years being largely ignored and now they are suddenly engaging items you can relate to."
Symmons, who has been at the museum for seven years, added: "We will obviously have to think about reclassifying these objects on our catalogue. But we hope the pieces will make people smile when they learn what they were used for. They would have probably been quite scratchy to use and I doubt they would be as comfortable as using toilet roll. But in the Roman era it was that or very little else."
This would be a good starting point for us to set off on a long rant about how scratchy bits of rock are still better than ridiculous, environmentally destructive, polluted-by-chemicals toilet paper (past rants available here, here, here, here and here), but frankly we cannot be arsed.

 Related Reading
The Historic Toilet Tour of York
A Calamitous and Inflammatory Blend of Toilet Paper and History
The Roman Bath Museum - Crap on a Stick

The Finer Points of Roman Hygiene 
Let Us Wash, for the Germanic Hordes May Appear at Any Moment
Roaring Good Roman Fun

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Snyrt, Snyrt: Landnámssýningin

We have been privileged enough to have had a fair amount of time to spare for toilet blogging lately; however, that's about to change. Let's squeeze in a lovely toilet while we have the leisure to devote ourselves to beauty as opposed to utility. Here are the toilets at one of our favourite museums ever, the Landnámssýningin (Settlement Exhibition) in Reykjavík! The Settlement Exhibition displays a building and artefacts from the very earliest Scandinavian settlement on Iceland (Semi-Intellectual Friend will tell us all about the Irish monks, who possibly got to Iceland before the marauding Vikings, another time).

The funky lime-green colour reminds us of the Sotano bar in York - hurrah!

Mixer tap, stylishness and paper towels - one shivers with delight!

One almost explodes with joy at the sight of these coat-hooks.
(N.b. The lime-green colour was much cooler in the flesh.)
 Sod it, we might as well indulge in some linguistic musings as well, while we're at it. We've been pondering the Icelandic word for toilet, snyrting, for some time. To us it sounds insanely comical, but of course language policy in Iceland is a dead serious business. Icelanders tend to be stark raving purists when it comes to their language, for which we usually applaud them; if they don't have a word for something they will invent one rather than import a bastardising foreign one. One source tells us that none other than Sigurður Nordal invented the word snyrting. According to the Cleasby-Vigfússon Old Icelandic dictionary, snyrta means "to trim". We asked our eminent Intellectual Friend for a learned opinion, and got the following answer:
Snyrt, snyrt indeed!!!
Well, these are very amusing/intriguing bits of etymologies. Nordal's snyrting is quite a powerful idea. In addition to
snyrta, there was the poetic word snyrtir, a sword-name, meaning either "the trimmer" or, if passive, "the trimmed" by reference to the sword-making/sharpening process (same source as above: "snyrtir, m. a polisher, Lex. Poët.: the name of a sword, Saxo", ed.'s note). Apparently employing the one-thing-leads-to-another method, Jóhannesson went and linked snyrta to 'snort' via dialectal Swedish snärt, 'fart', which is probably shaky but quite cool.
 While we're usually wildly in favour of consulting Jóhannesson, we take the liberty of positing the idea that he was talking out of his distinguished hat on this occasion. Other than that, we're not sure we feel a whole lot wiser, but at least we have had the joy of contemplating some beautiful toilets and some linguistic musings.

Related Reading
Quickly, Before We Sober Up: Icelandic Nostalgia

Power Trip: Hellisheiðarvirkjun

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Czeching in at Hotel Jalta

One of the Privy Counsel's most die-hard fans sent us these photos from the fabled city of Prague. This very stylish (if ever so slightly blurry) toilet can be admired in the restaurant at Hotel Jalta.

This looks nothing short of fabulous

We find these types of hygiene certificate extremely soothing
 If you're heading to Prague, we recommend a visit to the Ecotechnical museum, being the place to go if you're into sewers! Prague Guide UK tells us that,
The museum is there to show off the Czech ability to understand civil engineering better than most other countries in the world. To do this, it shows off the designs – created one hundred years ago – for Prague’s sewer system. Walking through the sewage system itself is a wonder of engineering and will have you stunned. There are long channels and huge chambers, as well as brickwork that you would usually associate with a Gothic cathedral above the ground. There’s even a large engine room, which is a real boon for those with an interest in old engines and associated matter.
It might surprise you to know that the sewage system of Prague has played a massive role in the way that the city has developed. Like many cities one hundred years ago, Prague was plagued by illness and disease, mainly because the residents still used the river as their source of water. With the population growing at an alarming rate, these sanitation problems only grew worse – until the sewage system was introduced.
When the sewage system was introduced, the city almost immediately became more sanitary and a lot healthier. In fact, it allowed Prague to become one of the best regarded cities in Europe. The design for the sewer was conceived by an Englishman by the name of William Heerlein Lindley and construction began in 1896 – it was finished nine years later. At the time of writing, the sewers of Prague now stretch a gigantic 2,175 miles (3,500km) under the city.
The Eco-Technical Museum is open on weekends from April until October. There are even concerts sometimes held here, as well as private parties. You might laugh, but the idea seems to be popular in many other cities on the continent, so why not in Prague…
We don't know about you, but we're simply itching to check out this city!

Have you ever seen a more beautiful manhole? Image from Flickr.

Related Reading
We Ponder Sewers and Medieval French
Plumbing: Blessed, Blessed Plumbing
A Draining Matter
Why Today Is a Toiletally Important Day

Hotel Jalta
Wenceslas Square 818/45
110 00 Prague
Czech Republic

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Uzbekistan III: Keeping a Low Profile

Hurrah! Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, for, though today is but an ordinary crappy Tuesday, it is also a day of Uzbek toilets! Hurrahhurrahhurrahurrah! We've been feeling historically minded recently, and have been hanging out with the hairy chieftains of the Migration Age a fair amount. As Intellectual Friend would probably tell you, if you were inclined to listen, the hordes of dirty barbarians striding across Europe in their leather socks, waving their battle axes around and propagating mystifying place names, are in no way unrelated to the quirks and shenanigans of Genghis Khan. Unless of course you've got him mixed up with Atilla the Hun. Who can keep track of all the dirty barbarians?! Let's crack on without further ado.

German Friend says:
"Silhouette art, invented by Ghenghis Khan, perfected by Amir Timur, still very much en vogue in and around Uzbek loos."

Stylish hat very much in keeping with classy décor

We do adore helpful signage

A jaunty ponytail, perhaps a cheeky reference to Genghis Khan and his victorious cavalry?
Do you feel instantly refreshed and intellectually invigorated? We sure do.

Related Reading
Uzbekistani Delight
More Uzbek Toilets

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Ugliest Bathroom in Sweden

It's been decided. We don't know about you, but here at the Privy Counsel, we've been on tenterhooks; alternately hiccuping, swallowing neat gin and phoning our doctor to top up our Valium prescription. But, a beer-spilling friend informs us, the competition for the title "Ugliest bathroom in Sweden" has finally been decided! Here it is.

Sweden's ugliest bathroom. Image from GP.
The winners, Fredrik Gunnarsson and Stina Lundgren, of Kareby, are quoted as saying that they're "not sure whether to be insulted or proud". The couple, whose bathroom décor consists principally of genuine 1970s furnishings, jestingly called their picture "Fifteen shades of brown" when entering the competition, staged by Vi i Villa magazine. Gunnarsson and Lundgren bought their house about a year ago and, though they have renovated large parts of the house, their bathrooms remain in pristine '70s condition. Friends alerted them to the fact that they might have a shot at winning the competition.
Aspiring victors of next year's competition, however, should watch out: the Gunnarsson-Lundgren power couple have another trick up their sleeve. "We have another bathroom in shades of green," they inform GP. "That might be a candidate for next year."

Related Reading
The Best Toilet in England
The Best Toilet in Iceland
The Second Best Toilet in Iceland

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Privy Counsel Pin-Up: Stephen Fry

We just couldn't help ourselves: this seemed like the perfect Sunday Pin-Up! It's got everything one wants on a  Sunday: relaxation, cleanliness, a rubber duck, and that certain je ne sais quoi. AND STEPHEN FRY. In other words, a perfect picture!
Also it seemed the logical follow-up of yesterday's Pin-Up.

Stephen Fry in a bath: Hygeia leers lustily. Image from Fryaday.

A fan says: "Stephen in the bath is indeed a pick-me-up. The mouldy grout in the background is a bit of a reality-check, though."

Harrumpf, comments Hygeia.

Related Reading

Some Really Good Grouting
Some More Really Good Grouting
Even More Really Good Grouting

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Privy Counsel Pin-Up: Ménage à Deux

So we've done our bit to promote gender equality and cultural diversity. Then we found this picture. We have no idea how it fits into the agenda, if at all.

James Corden of Gavin and Stacey fame, in a bath with David Beckham.
Image from Meninabathtub
Hygeia, at any rate, was chuffed to see the picture. She approves of bathing in pretty much any circumstances, and mixer-tap-assisted bathing is basically as good as it gets, in her opinion.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Pushing for Cultural Diversity

We have many mottoes keeping us afloat here at the Privy Counsel, the most important one being WWCD (What Would Chopper Do). However, another one goes, "If you're not worried, you probably should be". Our recent Privy Counsel Pin-Up-related gender equality campaign got us thinking, and we suddenly realised that almost all our Toilet Songs are by white males! While we have nothing against white males per se, they're hardly representative of the world at large. Luckily, Australian Friend thought of some fiendishly clever, if regrettably imaginary, culturally diverse toilet songs!

Here's the list. Enjoy!


Toilet Paper Planes

Shit Me Baby, One More Time


All That She Wants Is Another Toilet 

Pee Found Love

Bohemian Crapsody 

She Loves Poo (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)

Can't Get You Outta My Bum

Put Your Hand on the Bog Roll and Tell Me 

I Wanna Know What Crap Is
I've Got a Lot of Crap To Give

Ring of Fire

Poo Boy
Salt'n'Pepa: Ambiguous lyrics
Related Reading
A Festive Update
When I Walk Through That Door: A Rock'n'Roll Special

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Toilet Song - Harlem River Blues

It's finally Sunday, our favourite day for Toilet Songs! Purists might argue that the lyrics of today's choice mention neither porcelain nor lavatories, nor contain even any references to flushing. We counter that by pointing out that historical precedence decrees that any lyrics containing words and/or concepts related to "dirty water" indicate a Toilet Song. Justin Townes Earle has been spinning on the Privy Counsel record player quite a lot lately, so most likely we'll misconstrue some more lyrics and find another Toilet Song from his repertoire sooner or later.

Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues

Lord, I'm goin' uptown, to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water's gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

I'm on a roll, mama, I gotta go, gotta get there while I still can
Troubled days are behind me now and I know they're gonna let me in
When you see me walkin' up the FDR, just a-singin' and a-clappin' my hands
Tell my mama I love her, tell my father I tried, give my money to my baby to spend

'Cause Lord, I'm goin' uptown, to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water's gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

Good times come and they go, even a good man'll break
He'll let his troubles bury him whole even though he knows what's at stake
So I'm taking no chances, carrying over while I'm still good in His grace
I'm not no fool, mama, I know the difference between tempting and choosing my fate

'Cause Lord, I'm goin' uptown, to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water's gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

Lord, I'm goin' uptown, to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water's gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

Lord, I'm goin' uptown, to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water's gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

Genuine toilet photo taken by Justin Townes Earle -
clearly a sign that great minds think alike! Image from Twitter.
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