Thursday, 31 October 2013

Delirium Tremens: We Indulge in Paranoid Halloween Horror

Gaaaah! Is that the icy breath of SCREAMING BLOODY HORROR we feel on our neck? It is indeed! Halloween caught us unawares this year, engaged as we were in a multitude of intellectual activities (and a few strictly non-intellectual ones; the less said of those the better). But since it is apparently the thirty-first of October to-bloody-DAY, we shall of course be regaling our dearly beloved regular readers with our traditional SCREAMING BLOODY HORROR Halloween special! And have we ever got a multitude of gibber-inducing horrors in store for you today!

Let us start with Mr Smith. You will perhaps remember Mr Smith's admirable bathroom, with its model grouting and exemplary ventilation? Let's revisit the pictures from this truly excellent bathroom, which is still, after nearly two years, on the Privy Counsel list of favourite bathrooms ever!

Mr Smith usually keeps this shower curtain tucked away,
in order not to scare the cleaner to death.
Our Friends are nothing if not considerate.

Prints on the wall at Mr Smith's house.
Spot a theme, anyone?


Just in case that's not enough spine-chilling horror to give you nightmares, let's have a look at some truly disturbing images from the Lund University Library. (For more pictures from this eminent institution, see Lund University Library: Festschrift to Intellectual Friend).

This looks perfectly normal, doesn't it? Is it, in fact, too normal?

A Swedish mixer tap, to all outward appearances perfectly normal, sane and healthy.
But did it just snarl?

It's a trap, right? The paper towel dispenser is actually waiting to bite one's hand off?

Satanic scribblings.

A lopsided, Hieronymus Bosch-esque monster with tusks!
Staring at the toilet visitor with a crazed, squinting, murderous gaze!

Time for us to return to our syphilitic research! Happy Halloween, everyone! 

Related Reading
It's Halloween - Time for Some Spine-Chilling Horror!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The German Existentialist Toilet Is, Perhaps, Here

Is there anything more suitable, on a hungover Sunday spent in the grips of a dark, sardonic mood, and in expectation of an actual hurricane, than a German existentialist toilet ? Well, quite! German Friend has sent us an excess of interesting, thought-provoking toilet pictures to titillate one's intellect and spur one's musings, and among them was, finally, after months of agonising suspension, the German existentialist toilet! German Friend says:
Finally, here it is.
Total toilet existentialism in Berlin - this "smallest room" served as the privy at a photography exhibition in trendy Mitte district's out-of-function Postfuhramt (
It was a busy winter's Sunday and I did look rather silly taking pictures (does the blogger and other contributors ever get caught in the act, as it were?), but just had to take this with me for the benefit of mankind.
Anyway, finally here.
We have nothing.
"You have nothing". German existentialist toilet.

Does your mind feel boggled? Ours feels five kinds of bamboozled. Time for some cheese and a lie-down.

Actually, this rampant existentialism gives us occasion to ponder a favourite song of ours again:

"You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing. What have you lost? Nothing!"

Related Reading

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt: Shetland Shithouses Are Here!

We had church bells ringing outside our window this morning, and well they might - we're finally rolling out the long-awaited Shetland Shithouses!
Danish Friend went to a conference in the Shetlands where, apparently, toilets keep a super-excellent standard. Danish Friend passed photos of said super-excellent toilets on to Intellectual Friend, who kindly forwarded them to us, post-haste. (Did we mention that Danish Friend and Intellectual Friend got married recently? Just wait till we bring out the photos of the toilets at that wedding!)

Since Danish Friend expresses herself with admirable flair and lucidity, let's have her words in pure and unadulterated form, shall we?
So, Shetland toilets, in sum, a very pleasant experience (except perhaps the example found at the North Atlantic Fisheries College - no pics from there).

First encounter was the toilets at the Mareel, the main venue for the Viking Congress that hosted the famous fiddle frenzy festival at the same time! They were nice and clean and one might wonder whether the Scandinavian presence on Shetland has also influenced toilets and the general standard of hygiene.

The most interesting features of the Mareel toilets were, however, found outside the booths. A great view! And mixer taps!

And another one! One can never get enough of a good view when washing one's hands.

Large heaters. Probably useful during the long, wet and cold winters.

And finally, a sink for children? The disabled? Dwarves? Picts? It doesn't really matter, the consideration itself is enough!

May we jovially suggest that the tiny sink might be for the Shetland ponies?

Related Reading
Christmas 2013: Shetland Shithouses Part II. Umm, Poetry in Motion?
Orkney Outhouses

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Les Conduites Dangereuses: For Once It's Not Just Us Ranting

My, my, have we and our Friends been busy! Our Friends especially have been active in the correspondence department, while we at Privy Counsel HQ have been perhaps more inclined to gently ruminate certain academic matters (as long as they are lurid and unpalatable, anyway), and perhaps also indulge in the odd moment of procrastination, periodically even distasteful heartiness. It is lucky for us, then, that our Friends are so alert, intelligent, and helpful. Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend (who is, needless to say, British by birth), on reading our last post, sent us the following comment:
Just read your new post and saw the link to the British workplace. You are so bang on about the mixer taps with only cold! I had obviously forgotten from blocking it out but WTF people, why do they bother if they only have cold water! This has happened so many times to me in shitty kitchens and shitty bathrooms in shitty British establishments! Have you seen the ones where there is a separate cold tap and a separate hot "nozzle" coming from a crappy little plastic (of course) boiler on the wall? Usually the boiler is turned off so you get two cold taps but sometimes the boiler is on and it causes first-degree burns! WTF people! Oh, and I was impressed with the sideways toilet but was disappointed to note it was the photo that was sideways and not some unusual seating arrangement.

The screaming bloody horror that is the handwashing facilities
at the average British workplace

Noting with approval that Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend has learned to profit from the usefulness of the word “WTF”, we of course immediately responded with a list of links to posts describing the horror of the very dangerous hot water contraptions of Britain. Obsessive Emmerdale Friend then helpfully responded in turn with comments on the individual toilets and their dangerous taps. Since said comments were a joy to read we will publish them here.

Link number 1
More Dark, Dark Horrors: An Outwardly Reputable Employer with a Dark and Filthy Secret

Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend says:
Ooh, the first one is minging. [...] Btw, the British warning of "very hot water" and the lack of distinction between those diabolical contraptions is so, so true and reminds me of Britain (and why I left)! Oh, and the soap may be nice BUT as with most toilets, especially those bloody awful ones in the workplace, it's pretty much run out! There's NEVER enough soap! And no, people, filling the minutest dregs of liquid soap up with half a container worth of water does not count as soap worthy of washing one's hands! Oh yes, the peeling paint is also something I have experience of in many of England's toilets. I wish I was surprised.... 
Link 2
Safety at Work

Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend says:
The second one, gah! So much promise only to fail to deliver! I especially enjoyed this: "Britons never, never, never shall be slaves, apparently, but they are slaves to impractical, dangerous and annoying plumbing." Made me laugh so much! [Cue editorial twinkle in the eye.] Those taps are so rubbish, aren't they! I recognise both the bathroom and kitchen ones (the bathroom ones are in many friends' current bathrooms and are so damn stiff and horrible to turn).

As an encouraging example of mixer-taps that actually do work, they are mostly found in disabled toilets. Our favourite one is the one at the King's Manor in York.

Link 3

Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend says:
Anyhoo, bathroom number 3.... Oh yes, this is much better. I especially love the window and plant! I also appreciated the University of York-emblazoned hand dryer! And recognise, of course, the flu man in the warnings! Oh [Privy Counsel], you bring back such happy memories to me of dear old Blighty! But, as with most institutional toilets it's not great and could be far improved so I agree with the 7/15. But, all in all, it's a step in the right direction. I just wish the pot plant could have a better home with some warmer décor.

Another pretty good disabled toilet is the one at the military garrison in Catterick. (Although we subsequently admitted to getting carried away by our enthusiasm for the functioning tap and the STD poster, and giving it a higher rating than it deserved. Still, it was exciting going to Catterick. The best thing about it was the strapping young uniformed whippersnappers lining the way and constantly cheering and clapping for all the participants!)
Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend says:
The fourth and final one, hmm, I can't be happy with it. The lack of soap and a bin is bad whatever the toilet is like. (Unless lined with velvet everywhere in which case MAYBE I could overlook it if I was in a particularly good mood.) Also, I love those “gear stick” flushes at portaloos! They're scary and exciting in equal measure! I always imagine pulling the lever and the whole portaloo starting up an engine and ascending into the skies with me still inside!

Overwhelmed by this profusion of helpful comments, we went into a Babylonic gratitude rant, making appreciative noises and noting that “it is so very seldom that we get any feedback on the points system - in fact, it's never happened before, except maybe once when Semi-Intellectual Friend gently satirized the whole scheme,” and intimating our resolution of basing an entire blog post on them. Obsessive Emmerdale friend replied:
Oh my god, does this mean I, Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend, have finally inspired a WHOLE POST? This is great news, although I am worried that I am now ranting about rubbish attempts at mixer taps! At this rate, I will be losing my British citizenship no doubt.
Does the story finally, at long last, end there? Of course it doesn't! We then browsed through some old posts and had a sudden epiphany: Even Uzbekistan can do it! Install mixer taps, that is. Read all about it here.
Incidentally, if you are not totally exhausted and wanting to end it all now, we may as well tell you that the Shetland Shithouses have arrived! (Regular readers of our Facebook and/or Twitter accounts will know this already; it pays to be sociable in media.) While you're waiting for this utterly thrilling development, you may wish to ponder some Orkney Outhouses. You will find this hard to believe, but they, too, contain dangerous taps!

Orkney: One hardly believes one's goggly eyes

You may also find this video, from one of our favourite posts ever, [insert adjective here. Suggestions: inspiring, horrifying, mindboggling].

Meanwhile, Australian Friend sent us tidings of Miley Cyrus. We are informed, yet not enlightened.

Related Reading
A Note on Desperate Measures
Are You British? Does Tap Sanity Elude You?
Let's Get Medieval: King's Manor, York
Mixer Taps - The Great Controversy, or, When Will Britain Enter the 21st Century?, or, You Are Not Alone!
More Dark, Dark Horrors: An Outwardly Reputable Employer with a Dark and Filthy Secret
More Uzbek Toilets
On the Eighth Day God Created Paratroopers, But He Forgot the Soap
Right Up Our Alley
Safety at Work

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Right Up Our Alley

You'll be delighted to know that we received a spanking cool picture from Medievalist (with a Side Interest in Roman Archaeology) Friend! The image is described as "A fancy toilet in a fancy alleyway pub in Leeds".
It seems to us that these fancy toilets come out when the nights start drawing in and nor'-nor'-easter winds tickle one's sensitive skin with sharp, icy fingers. (Sudden poetic streak worrying: must be effect of the weekend's alcohol consumption. Making mental note to consider better class of beverage than rum out of a plastic bottle for future antics.) There was, for instance, the mystery of the sideways toilet at Grays Inn Court in York, which intrigued us back in 2011. This toilet turned out to have been manufactured by a company called Doulton, which has since fallen on hard times and been reduced to making porcelain cats and similar vulgar artefacts. (Read all about the thrilling sideways toilet here!)
The toilet in the picture below is, however, a genuine Crapper, says Medievalist (with a Side Interest in Roman Archaeology) Friend, adding, "I pissed in it". We do enjoy these frank discussions with our Friends!

Fancy toilet in a fancy alleyway pub in Leeds

It seems our creative powers are so feeble at the moment that all our posts are based on correspondence with friends. Since, in our experience, one can always sink lower (as, for instance, when, severely hungover, one has to get off one's bike and throw up at the side of the road in broad daylight, thinking, "it is surely not possible to sink lower than this", then finds that it is when, half an hour later, one has to stoop to throw up in the bin on the train, and the bin liner comes loose), we might as well go the whole hog and mention an article in the Telegraph that was recommended to us. It concerns a well-educated Spaniard cleaning toilets in London due to being unable to get a job befitting his qualifications. The clever toilet-cleaning man says, "I'm not ashamed of what I do. Cleaning is a very worthy job. What embarrasses me is having to do it because no one has given me an opportunity in Spain. There are many Spaniards like me, especially in London." Having worked in this place, we sympathise on many, many levels. Still, having a shitty job can be enjoyable as long as one has festive colleagues and gets some kind of intellectual stimulation. Like, to mention an example at random, writing a toilet blog. Ahem.

Related Reading
A Toilet Mystery
Gleeful Antics at Grays Court
Thomas Crapper: The Silence of the Toilets
Historical Toilets, Baths and Kitchens - a Useful and Humbling Lesson
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Toilet Roll Holders (But Were Afraid to Ask)
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