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


  1. Relevant, lengthy, Reddit discussion on British bathrooms having separate taps ( ) and the video linked to in the second comment. ( ).

    Enlightened Friend, just stopping by.

    1. Ahh, yes! Great discussion, great image (! However, we believe that dude has been described by the Privy Counsellor as "a hand-waving, mansplaining, adenoidal git", or words to that effect. Maybe we have unresolved childhood traumas.


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