Thursday, 31 December 2015

Wishing All Our Readers a Towering Great New Year!

Happy New Year!

We shall keep this brief, to give you all more time for drunken revelry and orgiastic carousing, and also because sickness and ill health plague us like syphilis plagues a Romantic poet. Actually we suffer a vast deal, and have done for some time - though of course with the greatest patience in the world, which is always the way with us, for we have, without exception, the sweetest temper anyone ever met with. People often tell their other girls they are nothing to us. 

Be that as it may, we want to get back to drinking vast quantities of tea and watching old episodes of Poirot.

We have a greeting from Dragon-Hunting Friend, who says:

Happy new year from the "loo with a view" (as the lift attendant called it) - floor 68 of the Shard!

We've had some quite worrying conversations recently with Australian Friend about the Shard, and thus find this sight a trifle uncomfortable. But we hope you enjoy it!

That is quite some toilet! And with a mixer tap, too!

We don't have any new year's resolutions, though we do have two mottoes for 2016. And we mean to stick to them. They are:




We don't have a hell of a lot else to say. We meant to do a review of the year's twelve best posts, like we did last year to great acclaim. But we have the kind of headache that feels like you drank a bottle of Bailey's all by yourself, except unfortunately we didn't, or at least not recently. Also only three people have voted in the poll which we announced in our last post, with the intention of defining the twelve best posts of 2015. Clearly our readers are even more depraved than we thought they were, and don't appreciate democracy, or bog blog polls.

So that's it. Happy fucking new year!

Today's festive video is Miranda Lambert at the Grammy awards, because it is our ambition to kick one tenth of the arse she does during the year to come.

Festive video - Miranda Lambert, Little Red Wagon (57th GRAMMYs)

Now fuck off.

Related Reading

All posts featuring New Year's Eve
Feast your eyes on another loo with a view here: All Mouth and No Trousers - Sichuan Food in Singapore

Friday, 25 December 2015

A Very Wet Blog Post

We trust that everyone has had their annual Christmas bath and is now comfortable, clean, and drunk.

Now that Christmas is to all intents and purposes over and done with in all sane and normal parts of the world, we can sit back and reflect on what we have learned. If your Christmas has been anything like ours, you have been worrying about people not washing their hands properly. Insufficient handwashing, as every educated person knows, leads to the spread of cholera, typhoid, and salmonella left, right and centre. Possibly even herpes!

(By no means do we want to make our readers paranoid, of course, or hector anyone. We just wish people would stop doing things like rinsing their hands briefly (what good do they imagine that does?), and bloody well wash properly. There is a range of entertaining and informative instructional videos out there: damn well watch them.)

We received an illuminating Christmas parable from Shewee Fiend Friend yesterday. Here it is, via Shewee Fiend Friend's phone:

Yesterday I went to a Christmas fair at an English major horse [we're pretty sure that's supposed to read manor house, but the typo is too amusing to correct]
Waiting for a toilet, I see and hear a boy say to his mom, I'm just not going to wash my hands
I'm standing one foot away from both of them
Mom says ok
I say ew
No effect
In their defence, these were the most irritating taps ever
The next conversation I overheard at same sink was a little girl who definitely did want to wash her hands
Anyway girl tries to use these taps

We have no idea what is going on here. Is Shewee Fiend Friend photographing someone else washing their hands? Or did she somehow photograph her own hands? Or did she persuade someone else to take a photo of her washing her hands? And in that case, who?

Whatever is going on here, one has to admire Shewee Fiend Friend's dedication.

They only stay on when you hold them, require a lot of pressure, and are either burning hot or freezing cold
So girl suggests to mom, mom holds the tap while girl washes hands, and then girl will hold the tap while mom washes her hands
And mom says to girl, we forget we're so spoiled with our nice mixer taps at home
What a simultaneously heartwarming and spine-chilling story!

And now for something completely different. As we all know, voting is a serious business. One must never accidentally vote for a political candidate who wants to limit women's reproductive rights, cut down on support for schools, or go bananas with fossil fuels. It is thus important, when voting, to stay sober and pay attention.
But here's some good news: we've got a thing you can vote on where it's an advantage to be drunk! So have some more whisky, have a look through all of this year's 60 (so far) posts, and vote for your favourite!

If you are viewing the web version of this blog, you can see all of 2015's posts listed under "Down the pan: Blog archive", below the labels (quite far down the page).

We have helpfully listed some alternatives, but do add your own favourite post!

Shewee Fiend Friend says: Christmas dinner and breakfast and every meal sorted!

Now, if you should peradventure not have access to a thick history book with many rude stories, unlike Australian Friend, who just sent us an amusing quote about the pox from Peter Ackroyd's London, don't worry! THERE IS NO NEED TO DESPAIR. We've got some holiday reading for you!

Our mysteries are generally very popular, and are especially relatable at Christmas. Moreover, this one is simultaneously a cautionary tale about what happens when you don't wash your hands properly:

A Christmas Mystery: The Mysterious Case of the Curse at Crapper Castle; or; Put a Lid on It; or; No Shit, Sherlock

Then we have, of course, our classic Poirot mystery from 2011:

The Body in the Bathtub: A Poirot Mystery


Now, time for a festive video! This one comes to us from German Friend, who is busy celebrating the holidays on a southern shore.

German Friend says:

And here is your Christmas present! I can't listen to it now, I would wake up dogs and people, but I'm sure it's good. The audio is, as far as I remember, an ode to shit or something played in a loop in the Hundertwasser toilets in the Hundertwasser Haus in Vienna. Recorded July 2015. I'm sorry about the sketchy information. It's Christmas Eve 7 am, I have a hangover (from the day before yesterday) and 8,000 errands to run before starting the celebrations.
(Remember, by the way, German Friend's hectic New Year's Eve the other year?)

Festive video: German Friend, Hundertwasser Loo

All we have to add is, woof!

Related Reading

Our most hectoring handwashing post ever:
Handwashing Extravaganza

By the way, this post is from 2015 and it's pretty good:
"Drunken Routs, in Which More Things Were Broken Than Heads and Furniture, Sister!"

This one was good too:

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Balls! It's Christmas!

It is Christmas Eve! The day on which Christmas is celebrated in all right-thinking countries*, including Scandiwegia, Germany, Poland, Portugal, and Colombia!

We've got Christmas greetings from Uncle Sean, in the shape of some weird toilet pictures and a charming rhyme:
Here for [Christmas] a display of reflective art, far more preferable than a boom bounding ______. 
Eerie scenes to beautify the loo, far more appealing than that un-flushed ______.
Wasn't that refreshing? We do love the spoken and written word!

Next - behold these creepy toilet pictures! They appear to be full of spirits, and are therefore totally in keeping with the atmosphere at the Privy Counsel right now.

We don't actually know what is happening here.

Or here.

Not here either.


We also have a Christmas greeting from Jonny. That charming young ne'er-do-well says,

It's annoying how cute I look as a ‪#‎hipstersanta‬.

Jonny as hipster Santa.
 Do you agree, readers?

(Jonny is still single, by the way, despite being very popular with the type of wanton female who frequents this blog. If you find his rugged charms irresistible even after reading this lonely-hearts ad that we wrote for him a couple of years ago, do get in touch. Help us help our favourite bachelor to haul ass into human bondage!)

Another thing, before we bugger off to drink ourselves insensible and watch bad telly enjoy the wonders of Christmas. We have created a poll! In which you can vote! The thing you can vote for is not, unfortunately, "the cutting off of the hands of people who don't wash their hands when they've been to the toilet", "the locking up into damp prisons of people who make themselves guilty of mansplaining", or even "the obligatory inclusion of rum and Richard Armitage to all parties held at the Privy Counsel", but the twelve best bog blog posts of 2015!

Have a think: which Privy Counsel post did you enjoy most this year? Which was the most informative? Or most mindbogglingly horror-filled? Have three or four large glasses of whisky, and GET VOTING!

We have included some helpful suggestions of posts you can vote for, but you can add your own favourite candidate:


(Please note that you can only vote once. So have lots of whisky, and think carefully.)

Today's festive video is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "We should all be feminists" speech. It is longer than our usual festive videos, but then what is Christmas for, if not to get slowly woozy on one's favourite drink, read large works of history, and listen to the wise words of someone you admire?
Listen to this, and enjoy Ngozi Adichie's beautiful voice, dry humour, and dazzling wit!
Gaaah, we bloody love this woman!

Festive video - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We should all be feminists

*Please note that we joyously embrace the notion of not celebrating Christmas at all, or only including the pagan aspects, like drinking and eating too much, worshipping the sun, and/or having orgies.

Related reading

All posts featuring Christmas
Al posts featuring the concept of gender equality
All posts featuring Uncle Sean
All posts featuring Jonny

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Of Cats and Monkeys

Friends, Romans, countrymen and -women! We've got all sorts of important news and toilet pictures, but first, an announcement:


We've been quite vocal about this on social media, but nonetheless*, let us revisit some of the conversations that took place yesterday.

A very dear and rampantly intelligent friend of ours sent us this message:

We received this intriguing message...

As our regular readers are aware, we love nothing more than promoting weird blogs on social media, so we took to this project with our usual chutzpah and oomph, and asked for the link, so that we could send it out into the ether.

...and it just kept getting better!

So, finally, the address of the new cat blog on this great place called the internet is: It has many, many pictures of cats. If you like cats: congratulations!

*because we don't necessarily have that many followers on social media, and hardly anybody actually gives a stuff about what we write there. Just a few friends, and maybe five other people who clearly need to get off the internet and get a life.

We have some pictures which we are pretty sure are from a restaurant in Malmö called La Brasserie. As far as we remember, we stuffed our faces with mussels, together with some relatives, and also wrapped ourselves round a bottle of rosé, this being standard procedure in our family when we can't decide between white and red.

A most admirable coat-hook! Note the grace and elegance with which it supports a bag!

This mirror was quite stylish, if you overlook how uncomfortable it is to be able to observe yourself when on the bog.

Woof! Are you enjoying the symmetry as much as we are?

We cannot approve of this sink and mixer-tap enough! We seem to remember that the soap smelled extremely nice. Whether it was also monkey friendly is of course another matter entirely.

To see other examples of us photographing our feet on stylish floors, see for instance this post, and this one. Oh, and this one! There might be other examples, but these are the ones we can remember.

Another joyful thing that has happened recently is that a supermarket manager called Tom Svensson, in a place called Fjällbacka in Sweden, has introduced "monkey marking" to help customers choose monkey-friendly products! We have written several times about palm oil plantations, the havoc they wreak on the environment, and the devastating effect they have on populations of monkeys (for instance here, here, and here). We always do our utmost to choose products containing no palm oil, or certified palm oil, in order to maintain a monkey-friendly lifestyle!
This exemplary supermarket has a Facebook page, which one can like.

As somebody said,

I'm mongrel-bitch tired and my fist cannot form letters any more, so fuck off, my darling, and leave me alone.

But first, a festive video! We chose this video because, well, we've all been there. (The fact that Meghan Trainor is wearing a sequinned cat top is a mere lucky coincidence.)

Festive video - Meghan Trainor, Lips are Movin'

Related Reading

Posts in which we display our feet on stylish toilet floors:
On Ranting, and Wine
Sober As a Judge
Caitlin Moran Really Does Make Everything Better!

Our posts on monkey-friendly soap:
Soaps, Lovely Soaps!
Not Nearly Enough Monkey Business
More Monkey-Friendly Soaps!

The Facebook page of Coop Extra Tanum 

The world's most recent cat blog: Catstrophil

Sunday, 13 December 2015

To Boldly Go, etc

Greetings, Earthlings! We've got some exciting space toilets with which to delight and edify you today, and also some festive Japanese toilet controls. Let us warn you, however, that our current hangover renders our usual vim, zest, and brio somewhat weak and enfeebled. We will do our utmost to bewitch and dazzle you with our rumbunctious writing, but be prepared for some lacklustre prose. You have been warned.

Let us without further ado hand over the controls to Shewee Fiend Friend. That superbly intellectual Alfred-fancier and Shewee enthusiast writes:

So my friend just got back from Japan. He took pictures of remote controls of toilets there.
So apparently, there's a bidet for girls and a separate unisex one for #2.
And other features that they couldn't figure out because the pictograms were not always clear or present at all.
This could lead to receiving an unexpected jetspray in a sensitive area, or intending to flush, and instead having water spray out of the toilet up onto your face. 
I also went to the cosmonauts exhibition in the Science Museum yesterday.
As soon as David gets home I'll get you those pics, which I used his phone for because his camera is soooo much better.

(Read more about David, and his views on public urination, here.)

A control panel of some kind

Another type of control panel

Now we move into the murky world of epistolary action. Behold, an email conversation between us and Shewee Fiend Friend about space toilets!

Shewee Fiend Friend: 
Best part of the exhibition. Well. Early spacecraft were cool too. Also here are some informative videos. I love space as much as you love toilets. 
Privy Counsellor:
Our internet isn't working very well, but is that the astronaut showing you how to wash your hands, vomit, and go to the toilet in space? Because we've totally been there!
Shewee Fiend Friend:
That's right! He's the coolest. The girl is giving instructions on how to operate the actual toilet. She had pretty good hair. Think how awesome your hair would be in space. I wish I had become an astronaut. My biggest regret in life.

At this point we would like to warn sensitive readers that, due to a technical issue which our IT support staff were unable to solve, THE FOLLOWING PICTURES ARE UPSIDE DOWN. If you are drunk, hungover, or suffer from tertiary syphilis with attendant nerve damage, be very careful. If you feel at all dizzy, drink a glass of whisky IMMEDIATELY. (We have many doctors on the Privy Counsel, and are reasonably sure that this is accurate medical advice.)




Let us for the sake of all that is sane and normal have a festive video. We went to see this band last night, at a place called Rock'n'rollklubben (we also have pictures from this excellent establishment - let us revisit them sometime soon, when we are not hungover!), and had a stonking good time. (The best part was possibly when a dude got up on the stage and accompanied the band with a home-made instrument consisting of a fire extinguisher and a meat cleaver, although the part where the same dude handed out brownies and shots of whisky wasn't bad, either.)

"If you can't be good, be careful" is our favourite piece of advice ever!

(Although apparently you don't actually have to worry that much about herpes, though we still find it an unsettling concept.)

Festive video - The Don Darlings, If You Can't Be Good

Related Reading

Our previous posts on the topic of space toilets:
Space Waste
Space Waste, Part II

All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend
All posts featuring sideways, upside-down, or otherwise fucked-up pictures
All posts featuring Japan
All posts featuring our doctors
All posts featuring epistolary action

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Partygoing Undergrads Must Die!, or, Dear Santa, I Want a Sexist Pulverizer

The inexorable juggernaut of Christmas draws ever closer. Today, all reputable news outlets assure us, is the second of Advent. We are, to be honest, not greatly in favour of Christmas at the Privy Counsel, what with our headquarters being already overflowing with paraphernalia, trinkets, and nuts. Also we find religion a creepy concept, though we don't have a problem with the more pagan aspects of Christmas, like unrestrained gluttony, and drinking.

We have received lots of fan mail over the past year, but due to our frantic procrastination, drinking, and - believe it or not - occasional engagement in actual work, we have not been able to display all the missives we have received. Consequently, all correspondence has been shoved into the Privy Counsel archive which, as all regular readers know, is a dark and dreary place, spookily reminiscent of a crypt out of The Monk, and containing mentally unhinged pheasants. (Or are they actually peasants? Nobody has ever dared stay long enough to check properly.)

However, in consequence of us remarking, last Sunday, that the Privy Counsel is "rather more fragrant and attractively lit than usual, being resplendent with various lights and varieties of pine needles", an attentive reader wrote to us to ask,

How fragrant, exactly? 

What a good question! Unfortunately we cannot convey to you the scent of pine needles and gingerbread currently permeating our headquarters, but let us at least demonstrate what said pine needles look like.

A nauseatingly decorative and cosiness-inducing arrangement

Another missive reads:

Dear Privy Counsellor,
This morning I had a rather unsettling experience. In the ladies' room, in the stall next to me, a mobile phone went off - and then it was answered! They had an entire conversation, including the information that the woman was on the toilet! Is this proper bathroom etiquette - answering the phone mid-pee? Said woman also left without washing her hands, so I'm inclined to think all her behaviour a bit suspect, and I'd like your opinion to make sure I'm not being prejudiced!
Don't Flush While Dialling

Dear Don't Flush While Dialling, our response is to note that perhaps religion has a useful function after all. Observing that theocratic societies often implement  punishments like the cutting off of body parts corresponding to the crime committed, we think that perhaps lopping off the hands of people who don't wash them after going to the toilet would be a suitable consequence of that atrocity.

The first known law code advocating retributive justice is that of Hammurabi, written around 1754 BC. Funny, how often this dude has cropped up in our correspondence lately.

Another missive reads,

Dear Privy Counsellors,
When my family takes road trips, my parents don't like to stop much. If we get out to go to the bathroom it takes too much time. Mom, my sister and I carry old mayonnaise jars to pee in while we drive. This was always a bit awkward, until the Counsellors told me about shewees! Now I can totally aim into my mayo jar! And our car smells a lot better, too! Please let me know the best way to get old wee smells out of an old car. I turn 16 soon and Mom says I can have our old pre-Shewee station waggon!
[heart symbol], Teenybopper Shewee Fan

Suspecting that we know who this message is from, we contacted a fellow counsellor, who confirmed that,
[A certain man] was a total dick and would not let them out of the car on road trips [...] He was an asshole of the first order [...] Of course, she went all Southern Republican, so in the end maybe they deserved one another [...]That was a classic case of "if you marry for money you earn every penny". I don't even know HOW you'd pee in a mayo jar. In a moving vehicle.

We don't, either, and we hope we never find out.

This shit literally has to be seen to be believed.

A third epistle is more philosophical/political in nature, and leads us towards our Festive Video.

Dear [Privy Counsellor], 
Today's theme is Partygoing Undergrads Must Die! I was wringing out my hair after a shower when a gaggle of girls getting ready for a night out came barrelling in, which was, well, loud and obnoxious, but survivable - I was young once too! It was when I heard one say, "Oh my god, is my eyeliner right? I just have to have the right eyeliner to even have a hope of looking acceptable!"*  
Now, I'm sure it was hyperbole, and you know I love me some eyeliner, but it just hit every feminist fibre of my being and I wanted to run out and start shrieking, even as my own eyeliner was running down my face (waterproof my ass**).  Thank gods I'm not 21 anymore...but I do wonder who they'll grow up to be, and what sort of lessons they'll impart to future girls. On the up side, you'll approve of the fact that the public library [in Edinburgh] has one of Caitlin Moran's books displayed for their book club!

*may we dare suggest that the girl in question didn't actually express herself in those exact words, but that our correspondent's extensive and Austenesque literary habits coloured this sentence? But no matter.

**Hear, hear.

We believe it was Helen Fielding who coined the term "Alice Cooper eyes". This is what happens when one's eyeliner fraudulently purports to be waterproof, but isn't. Image from caratulas.

In possibly related news, we suspect there may be a Counsel-wide outbreak of tertiary syphilis. We haven't noticed anyone displaying the symptoms of either primary or secondary syphilis (the one Privy Counsel member - who shall remain anonymous - who did suffer from a sudden onset of distressing symptoms turned out to have herpes [incidentally, the internet informs us that, in order to avoid spreading herpes to others, it is important to wash your hands after going to the bog], not syphilis), but it seems the indications of tertiary syphilis are widespread. Symptoms include:
Fatigue; headaches; insomnia; dizziness; social inhibitions; asocial behaviour; gradual impairment of judgement, concentration and short-term memory; euphoria; mania; depression; apathy; and delusions of grandeur.

We don't know about you, baby, but we tick every single one of those boxes. Better get on with the Festive Video.

Festive Video - The Doubleclicks, Sexist Bullshit (Christmas Song)

All parts of this song's lyrics are awesome: check them out.

Related Reading
All posts featuring advent
All posts featuring epistolary action
All posts featuring handwashing
All posts featuring shewees
All posts featuring poor aim
All posts featuring Caitlin Moran

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

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Advent Musings: In Which We Rant and Ramble Aimlessly, and Don't Even Mention the Word "Toilet"

[content note: extensive vulgarity and exaggerated use of dependent clauses]

We are feeling rather smugger than usual at the moment. Today is, we have been informed by reliable sources, the first of advent, which word, as our sanest and most normal friend, the OED, informs us, means, basically, "arrival".

Here's a magnificently unhelpful and unreadable screenshot from the OED, of questionable legal status.

This has nothing in particular to do with anything, except that the Privy Counsel is rather more fragrant and attractively lit than usual, being resplendent with various lights and varieties of pine needles. Also we find ourselves marvelling at the sheer HELPFULNESS of PEOPLE, to the point where our eyes are shining with joy and appreciation in a rather sickening and repugnant manner.

Not just any people, obviously. Not the bickering couple behind us in the supermarket queue earlier today, or Australian Friend's psychotic boss, or the gobsmackingly rude people who daily congregate on Swedish trains. But for instance all the people who rallied round when we had to write an insanely boring essay on organisational theory. 

It strikes us as surreal that one can send a whingeing message to, say, Sheewee Fiend Friend, complaining about the indignity of having to write a boring essay on organisational theory, and wondering if she might know of any good books offering a feminist critique of neo-liberal politics*, and receiving, on the very same day, a whole damn reading list! We would like to extend our thanks to Shewee Fiend Friend, Shewee Fiend Friend's list-compiling friend, and all the other friends and relatives who gathered round and offered support and drinks during this difficult time.

Some attractive lighting at the Privy Counsel, representing the unholy trinity 
of intellectualism, alcoholism, and hardening the fuck up.

Apart from all the usual friendly encouragements like the sending of pictures of Elvis, the advocation of alcoholism as a way forward with academic writing, the exhortations to calm the fuck down, etc, we have had some rather marvellous news** from Australian Friend, who writes:

LOLL my cousin told me there's this expression in Australia I haven't heard before wherein if someone is whingeing you suggest that they take a 'concrete pill' - so that you can HTFU

HTFU, as all educated people know, is a delightful concept encompassing brio, zest, and chutzpah. The acronym stands for Harden The Fuck Up, and was popularised by Heath Franklin in his legendary imitation of the Australian gangster Chopper Read. Concrete pill! Hurrah!

Speaking of hardening the fuck up, we have a delightful message from Jonny. That loveable young idiot writes:
Decided to smash some gender stereotype barriers with this rather lovely bath.
Rain is pounding on the window and I have to say I'm relaxed as f*ck.
[Not pictured: massive lob-on]

Jonny being relaxed as fuck.

*The essay was supposed to be about organisational theory, but we reckoned we would end up decidedly less likely to throw ourselves out of the window in a desperate fit of depression and despair if we instead decided to engage in feminist critique of neo-liberal politics. If you can't laugh, what can you do?

**We believe we had, when setting out to write this blog post, an idea of linking this news to the concept of advent, remembering, from far-off school days, that "advent" was supposed to mean "good news" or similar. According to the OED, however, it doesn't, and we must conclude that our teachers were heartless harpies who lied to us to serve their own selfish ends.

We meant to post, for our Festive Video, The Beatles' With a Little Help from My Friends, but then we remembered that the Beatles of that phase were rather smug, repulsive people, and so we decided on this delightful Swedish Christmas song from the early '90s, that pinnacle era of culture and refinement, instead.

Festive Video - Lars Vegas Trio, Varje Dag Är Jul

Related Reading

All posts featuring Sheewee Fiend Friend
All posts featuring  Australian Friend
All posts featuring Jonny
All posts featuring the concept of HTFU
By the way, as far as we know, Jonny is still on the market

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Captivating Pictures

Tally-ho and a jolly good International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to you! In case you are currently scratching your armpits, wondering what the hell such a day is in aid of, ponder the fact that one in three women worldwide has been subjected to physical or sexual violence. We have lit a candle for the survivors of domestic violence - and those who have died.

Gender roles may make people fucked up beyond belief, but we continue our quest, at the Privy Counsel, to highlight how awesome people can be. Mr Smith, for instance, sent us a message that made us laugh so loud we worried the window panes might shatter! That estimable and ventilation-aware gentleman writes:

A selection of toilet facilities courtesy of the state of California's federal penitentiary: Alcatraz

Alcatraz! Toilets! Alcatraz toilets!!!

 Dragon-Hunter Friend, also, has been busy on the epistolary front. She writes:

In Malaysia, I've discovered that you have to hope you end up with this...

Malaysian toilet
...and not this.

Malaysian squat toilet.

When I landed, the first toilet I found at the airport was the latter kind...looked all new and shiny, but was hiding the scary truth behind closed doors
 Because we happened to be quite drunk when the missive arrived, we replied enthusiastically:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Asian toilets are AWESOME! So much more hygienic, when you think about it, than sitting on a seat that thousands of people have sat on! And you get a free Pilates workout! 

Dragon-Hunter Friend replied: 

Haha maybe so, but when you're carrying luggage around, and there's just a hole in the ground....lets just say my aim is not so true  ;)

We retorted with:

Eh. I used one in Italy, wearing ski boots, with a recently-torn-to-shreds knee ligament. It's all a matter of determination. 

Dragon-Hunter Friend's final reply was:

I think I've just got too many memories from French motorway stations when I was little, and getting my socks wet

Which is totally fair enough. NO TO WET SOCKS!

Just say no!
Finally, we have received a letter asking for advice. It says:

Dear Privy Counsel 
I have recently become a manager for the first time, and one of my subordinates is spending an inordinate amount of time on the toilet. How do I broach the subject? I mean, it could be anything from an unputdownable novel, to Chrohn's disease! Then again, perhaps this person has, at almost middle age, still not learnt to regulate his bowels. Please help.

We're fucked if we know. Thoughts? Any advice from our estimable and intelligent readers?

We've got a special treat in honour of
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - a kick-arse song from a kick-arse Australian metal band called The Amazons! This band doesn't exist any more, alas, but from what we've heard they took a lot of shit, while they were around, from men who felt threatened by their kick-arseness. So let's play this video, while snarling like the unapologetically awesome, lip-glossed drummer, and vow to SMASH THE PATRIARCHY YEAH. 

All posts featuring Mr Smith

All posts featuring Dragon-Hunting Friend

Laura Bates on violence against women:
Women are being assaulted, abused and murdered in a sea of misogyny 

An awesome movement: The White Ribbon Campaign

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Poetry in Motion - We Visit a Sewage Treatment Plant! | World Toilet Day 2015

We trust you've had your Thursday afternoon pub session and are ready to get it on with World Toilet Day without further preamble. Indeed, as Kick-Arse Suffragette Friend pointed out, today is not only World Toilet Day, but also International Men's Day! As we all know, it is important to give International Men's Day the attention it deserves. All that business of getting higher wages, getting promoted without any extra effort, and dominating leading positions in politics and finance worldwide must be EXHAUSTING. Give it up for the world's men, everyone!

Joking aside, more people have a mobile phone, these days, than a toilet. Not having access to a toilet leads, as regular readers should be well aware of by now, to a high risk of contracting several very unpleasant and dangerous diseases. For women, not having access to a toilet can also mean being at greater risk of being raped. As if that risk weren't great enough already.
As Jezebel writer Jia Tolentino says:

I spent a year living with a cell phone but no toilet once. Coincidentally—as coincidentally as the coincidence of [World Toilet Day and International Men's Day]—that was also a year in which I became extremely afraid of men.

In other words, the causes of hygiene and gender equality are intertwined - both are vital to human health and happiness!

In the interest of highlighting World Toilet Day, two of our intrepid correspondents braved the inclement weather and went to the sewage treatment plant in Källby, outside Lund, today! They were treated to an excellent and highly informative tour by a rampantly intellectual guide called Hanna! Hurrah!

No trip to the sewage treatment plant is complete without getting lost in the wild and savage woods surrounding Lund. Here's how happy our brave contributors were to find a sign saying "Reningsverket"!

The first part of the sewage treatment is getting rid of large objects by letting the sewage pass through a three-millimetre grid. After that, the sewage runs into these tanks, where grit is allowed to sink to the bottom and eventually get carted away and used for construction.

Things you should never, ever flush down the toilet include pantyliners. Like the one seen in this positively poetic picture showing November sunlight reflecting off some sewage!

Other things you should definitely not be putting down the bog are condoms. Apparently the inhabitants of Lund are more than averagely festive, and discard a fair few this way! (Don't get us wrong - condoms are an important tool in the battle against venereal disease. Like for instance our favourite disease syphilis or, to pluck a disease at random, genital herpes. But don't flush them down the damn toilet!)

More poetic sunlight reflecting off the tanks. We might have remembered what happens in these ones three hours ago, pre-pub, but now we're pretty much fucked, memory-wise. (At some point iron (III) chloride is added to the proceedings, which makes for a festive atmosphere down at the sewage treatment plant. It is definitely not here, however.)

Woof! "What happens here?" you might be asking yourself. A more adequate question would be, "What DOESN'T HAPPEN?" As far as we remember, bacteria live in these aerated tanks, and do unspeakably exciting things to phosphorus! WOOF!!!

Something else happens here. Possibly a certain amount of litres of water pass through this bit of the plant per minute. There was a mighty roar!

This is the final product and, if we remember what our knowledgeable and rampantly intellectual guide Hanna told us, this sludge is Revaq certified and can be used as fertiliser. The tank itself looks like something out of Dante's Inferno. (DON'T DROP YOUR PHONE HERE.)


Somewhere in the vicinity of this giant white cylinder, biogas is extracted. For instance, many of Lund's festive green buses run on biogas.

A Privy Counsel representative with our knowledgeable and rampantly intellectual guide, Hanna!

It seems wrong to NOT put rum in this mug!
In semi-related news, here's how one Privy Counsel member saw fit to celebrate World Toilet Day - with rum, and Caitlin Moran merchandise, in a glorious combination! Right on, sistah!
(As many of you know, Caitlin Moran sells awesome stuff for the benefit of Refuge, one of the many women's shelter organisations. (If you're feeling intellectually motivated, ponder for a moment why it is that there are so, so many women's shelters in this world.))

We spent a long time trying to think of a suitable Festive Video, possibly one illustrating a concept such as sanitation, handwashing, or non-violence. Unfortunately, however, we preceded our visit to the pub with a visit to the blood donation centre at the hospital (this is a Very Bad Idea, by the way - one should never, ever consume alcoholic beverages after giving blood), and we've been a bit unfocused ever since. So we're going to go with this song, simply because we think it's awesome. We could all do with some Marvin Gaye getting it on - just DON'T FLUSH CONDOMS DOWN THE TOILET! And remember that no means no! (And an absence of a rampantly enthusiastic YES! also means no.)

Festive video - Charlie Puth, Marvin Gaye

Related Reading
All posts featuring World Toilet Day

One of our favourite Toilet Day posts ever, featuring a rampant Australian talking passionately about methane gas

Information about World Toilet Day from Water Aid

If you have access to clean water, celebrate by joining the conga line in the Cholera Babe Parade!

Caitlin Moran's merchandise for the benefit of Refuge

The Refuge webiste

The sewage treatment plant in Källby
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