Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Hirschsprung Museum, or, Revising the Status of Denmark, or, Feverish Paranoia

You will find this hard to believe, but sometimes we despair. Yes, despair. There are so many toilet photos, and so little time!

Luckily, Mother Nature has her own way of bringing equilibrium, and ensuring that toilet blog posts happen with a modicum of regularity. A dastardly virus infection has brought the Privy Counsel to a halt. However, as life and strength slowly return, we are seizing the opportunity to do a blog post while we're still officially too sick to do any actual work, but healthy enough to sit upright.

Denmark isn't all it's cracked up to be.

[This is where we elect not to make any tired Shakespearean jokes, having whacked out quite enough of those over the years. You're welcome.]

We have decided to revise our previous definition of Denmark as "Everyone's Favourite Toilet Country". Granted, Danish bogs have many good points, especially if compared to the unabated horrors of engineering and design that constitute British bathrooms. But, when you come to look closely at the matter, you find that nearly every single museum toilet in Denmark has a particularly vicious kind of tap - the tap that would be a mixer tap, but isn't. The subjunctive mixer tap, if you will. Once you realise this, it gives the entire universe an unsettling, Matrix-like quality. (This could just be the fever talking, but bear with us and see if you don't start seeing chinks in the programming.)

It's a right mindfuck, this one. There is a single tap (not, thankfully, two separate ones (the horror!)), but the crucial function of the true mixer tap - making it easy to quickly find a pleasant temperature - is lacking. One still has to twiddle two separate knobs, losing the hygienic advantage of being able to operate the tap, should OCD and/or personal preference so dictate, with one's elbow, wrist, or other body part that isn't habitually used to touch the face, thus obstructing the path of transferral of dastardly microbes to one's mucous membranes. Instead, one has to use both hands to twiddle the knobs! The! Screaming! Bloody! Horror!

This crucial function of the mixer tap - enabling one to not touch things that other people have touched while washing one's hands - seems particularly desirable when one has endured a virus infection able to mimic exactly the symptoms of the kind of hangover you get after five beers on an empty stomach, FOR FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT . You will forgive us if we rant.


Everything else is ok.
Except all the tissue is bleached. Bleurgh.

The door and coat-hooks are fine.

The above pictures are from the Hirschsprung Museum in Copenhagen. This beautiful art gallery has got some lovely paintings from the Romantic era, some paintings which brought on a collective rant of red-hot feminist rage among our party, and some lovely soothing holiday scenes. All in all, a spiffing museum! (APART, OBVIOUSLY, FROM THE HORROR-INDUCING SUBJUNCTIVE TAPS.)

The Hirschsprung Museum - here it is, in all its neoclassical glory!
With a charming Dane with a charming Danish bike!
Image from

We went to a lovely restaurant afterwards, where we enjoyed a very charming toilet and got sloshed on some rather excellent wine (not necessarily in that order), but we can't remember what the restaurant is called, so we'll have to tell you about it another time.

Before we move on to the festive video, let's give you a list of Danish places that have what we have just termed subjunctive mixer taps, just to prove we're not crazy:

The National Museum of Copenhagen
The bed-and-breakfast where Semi-Intellectual Friend stayed once
Amalienborg Castle
Sct. Clemens Brewery, Aarhus
Café Jorden, Aarhus

We have more of these bastards in our archive - just you wait!

Festive video - Gillian Welch, Elvis Presley Blues

Related Reading
For the sake of fairness, a couple of Danish toilets that have totally ok, non-subjunctive taps:
The Maritime Museum of Denmark - Festive Things That Are Red
The Royal Library - Caitlin Moran: Our Favourite Non-Toilet-Related Person! (This toilet, on the other hand, had ghastly cubicles with a distressing lack of privacy.)
Det lille Apotek - Big Beers and Small Toilets in Everyone's Favourite Toilet Country (As you can see, however, this toilet was weird in many other ways.)
All posts about Denmark, ever

Thursday, 26 February 2015

More Monkey-Friendly Soaps!

What-ho, what-ho, good folks. Guess what? Sometimes there are unmistakable signs that there is hope for mankind, despite all the previous evidence to the contrary.

We have been busy organising a publicity event for a women's shelter, and have been impressed rather than otherwise by the response from the businesses we have done our damnedest to cadge favours from. All the humanity has brought the roses back to this gnarled old toilet-blogger's cheeks!

Also, we found these lovely soaps from the Danish company Urtekram:

Here is Monkey, posing happily in the sunshine
with a couple of monkey-friendly soaps and his favourite citrus plant.

They smell heavenly of roses and lavender, respectively!

As regular readers are aware, we have certain requirements when it comes to soaps: they must smell nice and they must be monkey-friendly. The devastation caused by palm oil plantations is well known and requires no further description.

Our lovely new Urtekram soaps are certified organic, vegan and not tested on animals, but we couldn't find any information regarding palm oil on the packaging so we wrote to Urtekram to ask. They sent a very polite, very conscientious and very detailed reply, explaining about their palm oil policy [translated from Scandiweigan]:
Our oil comes from both coconut oil and palm oil, depending on what's available. It is RSPO certified , but unfortunately the demand for sustainable oil is greater than the supply. It can sometimes be hard to ascertain whether an ingredient is made from palm oil, as ingredients are broken down into several parts. Here's what our product developer Tom writes on the subject (pardon the Danish):

"Vi har anvendt denne samlende term for de ingredienser for der eksisterer ikke nogen direkte oversættelse fra INCI til normalt engelsk. Det betyder:
vegetabiliska oljeprodukter = polyglyceryl-3 dicitrate/stearate, cetyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate se, glyceryl caprylate, lysolecithin, beta-sitosterol, squalene.

Flere af disse ingredienser kan stamme fra palmeolie, men hvis de gør det så er det Segretated RSPO olie der er anvendt i henhold til de forskellige leverandører vi anvender. Det betyder at vore produkter ikke forårsager fældning af regnskov.

PS Der er en hel del af de ingredienser der anvendes indenfor kosmetisk industri hvor leverandørerne skifter mellem flere forskellige olier – det kan f.eks. være kokos og palme olie, da de har meget ens fedtsyreprofil. Det er på nuværende tidspunkt IKKE muligt at garantere produkter er uden palmeolie – hvis der på et produkt står at det er uden palmeolie, så skal man straks være meget skeptisk – jo sikkert uden palme olie, men mange af ingredienserne er muligvis fremstillet ud fra palme olie!"

We're totally happy with that, and even happier with our gorgeuously scented soaps!

(If you find this sudden effusion of sunshine and roses trying, here's something you can worry and rant about: Antibiotic-resistant bacteria breed in sewers. Remember, also, the multi-drug-resistant gonorrhoea bacteria.)

Let's have a festive video.

Monday, 23 February 2015

The City Museum in Winchester: Circling the Drain

You know the feeling, right? You're trying to read an academic anthology, but the gaggle of lunatics who wrote it believe that making diagrams incorporating fourteen arrows pointing in different directions while haphazardly letting off terms like "a sense of not-knowing", "multi-voicedness", "experential", and even "warranted assertibilities", is a reasonable use of everyone's time.

That feeling, when the world looks like this, and you are having to restrain yourself from opening the window and flinging yourself onto the warranted assertibility of the very hard terrace below.

You yearn for a time when life was simpler. Like when you spent two days getting shitfaced in Winchester and taking crap photographs, for instance. Here are photos of some ace signs at the City Museum, Winchester.

Life in Winchester in the mid-1800s was basically one big Cholera Babe Parade.

Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend likes to explore complex intellectual concepts
using interpretive dance, if given half a chance. This option doesn't seem available in this case,
but efforts have been made, in the past, to analyse the tension in an exciting drama.

Topography is such a bitch.

Did we mention we love signs, especially cholera-related ones?



We think that's enough for now, don't you? Also we really need to finish that book. Let's have a festive video full of filth, medieval peasants, and anarcho-syndicalism.

Festive video - Constitutional Peasants, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Related Reading
Previous posts about Winchester:
Halloween Horror - Drunken Graffiti and Mindless Lurching in Winchester
The Cholera Babe Parade: Woof! Cholera Babe Parade!
Our favourite guide to the city of Winchester will ever remain Shewee Fiend Friend
Sewers, gratitude, and John Snow: Plumbing, Blessed Plumbing
Read all about Thomas Garnier, fierce botanist and anti-muckabite, here.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Cannon Fodder

As Obsessive Emmerdale Friend so perceptively said, the other day, "You're doing too much again, aren't you?" Things have indeed been moving at a rock'n'roll kind of pace at the Counsel, and pretty much everywhere else too, as far as we can tell. Everyone's busy as a[n] [insert animal of choice], and feeling the need to have a whisky and a lie-down.

It's lucky, then, that Bogsley Hansson Friend has been on a photographic journey, and has sent us a shitload of beautiful pictures with which to delight and edify us all! This means that we don't have to write more words than necessary, but can get on with rocking and rolling. And also reeling.

Bogsley Hansson Friend writes:
Some pics from a recent trip to the Oregon coast. Fancy bathroom art. This is in Cannon Beach which is just down the coast from where they shot The Goonies.

We don't actually intend to say a hell of a lot else. A picture says more than a thousand words, they say. Enjoy the silence!

(Don't miss our more than usually festive festive video at the bottom, however.)

Bogsley Hansson Friend visited this charming place, where he ordered
"fish and chips. With garlic bread which I think is an Oregon coast thing.
Supposed to dip it in the chowder I guess".
We were treated to a picture of this meal, and absolutely scrumptious it looked, too!

We're huffin' and puffin' with delight!

We're fucked if we know what this is.
Some species of observatory?
Either way, it's got paper towels
in it, of which we approve,
and a bin, of which we also approve.
This is festive, what?

Boglsey Hansson Friend is nothing
if not considerate - it's a massive
bag of wine!
"What the hell is that, then?"
one thinks to oneself.


Now then, now then. When did we last do a feminist anthem? We can't remember, so let's have one sharpish.

Festive video - Lesley Gore, You don't own me

Lesley Gore kicked a massive amount of arse in her lifetime. She once told Ms. Magazine that,
As a child I wanted to sing at Carnegie Hall, so I practiced singing behind the closed bedroom door, in front of the full-length mirror, with a hairbrush as my microphone. Behind that closed door, I slicked my hair back in a fairly credible Elvis imitation. I’m sure many of us did. But when I finally walked out onstage — in the spring of 1963, I was 16  I went dressed like a nice little girl and performed as I was expected to.
Ave atque vale, Lesley.

Related Reading
All posts from Bogsley Hansson Friend
Another seaside toilet: By the Sea - A Toilet Blogger's Holiday
Another photographic journey: Norwegian Wood

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Greetings From a Welsh Gangster

As our regular readers are well aware, we have many friends at the Privy Counsel. Friends from all walks of life. Some are Welsh gangsters, some are not Welsh gangsters. Today we bring you a greeting from one of our friends who is a Welsh gangster.

Welsh Gangster Friend writes, in a pithy, straight-talking style:
Toilet door in the pub I'm in. Anti-drugs policy taken to pretty extreme levels!

The lock still works but is, says Welsh Gangster Friend, "sort of irrelevant".
Valentine's Day or not, at the Privy Counsel we are, as usual, busily engaged in academic pursuits, and also the odd political undertaking. Uncle Sean, knowing our penchant for the political, the bizarre, and the toilet-related, sent us this lovely article about the seizure, in Hong Kong, of four thousand rolls of toilet paper imprinted with the face of Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's pro-Beijing chief executive. It seems that the people of Hong Kong must roll with the punches if China-friendly authorities cause heads to roll. We hope Hong Kong gets the ball rolling for democracy. At the Privy Counsel we are very far from rolling on the floor laughing when contemplating the current situation.

We hasten to take the opportunity of showing off our own festive toilet roll - a family heirloom inherited from a beloved relative who had a rather rustic sense of humour. The 100-kronor banknote featuring Gustavus Adolphus was in circulation from 1965 to 1985 and was featured, as you can see, on a rather splendid joke toilet roll. Also shown in this picture is a fake dog turd. Because why not?

This fake dog turd once mysteriously appeared on granny's elaborately set table,
right when she was expecting a veritable army of tightly-permed ladies for coffee.
How we laughed!

Since we have apparently launched into an uninterrupted cavalcade of riotous mirth, let us just mention, before we part, that we saw the film Pride recently, and were much amused. It is a hoot from start to finish, and makes some very good points along the way. And it is, needless to say, set in Wales. Hurrah for Wales!

Festive video: Dominic West kicks absolute arse on the dancefloor in Pride.

Related Reading
Our first encounter with Welsh Gangster Friend: Wales Cannot Wait
We also gave zero fucks about Valentine's Day last year: Norwegian Wood
And the year before that: HTFU - Wipe for Wildlife
We're quite fond of Wales. All posts about Wales
Other shenanigans by the above-mentioned relative are mentioned in Poo Pourri - The Paranoia Reaches Epic Levels
Oh, and also, remember that gonorrhoea is multidrug-resistant.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Unisex Toilets - This Shit Gets Political

EDITOR'S NOTE. Since writing this post we have changed our position on this issue. Quoting ourselves, here is a summary of our standpoint:

Incidentally we were, as you can see if you go back through our Unisex Toilets label and read older posts (for instance this one), originally in favour of trans inclusivity. Being inclusive seemed to be a matter of human rights; both men and women are at risk of male violence, and if some men who look like women are at an even higher risk of violence, then surely letting them share a toilet with the women makes perfect sense? Unfortunately, however, it's not that simple. It turns out that there are plenty of men (again, not all men) who are prepared to argue that they are trans women in order to gain access to spaces where women are vulnerable, for instance rape crisis centres, domestic violence shelters, changing rooms and, yes, toilets. Robbing women of the right to banish men from women-only spaces renders them powerless to protect themselves against male violence.

In one of our first posts about unisex toilets, we gave expression to our fear of being trapped in an enclosed space with strange men by flippantly describing the bearded hipsters crowding the sink. We have since had cause to drop the flippancy. We empathise with trans women and -men, but fail to see why supporting them must endanger women. 

A longer read defining our position is available here:
Halloween 2018: Raped and Murdered Women, and Statistics. It Doesn't Get Scarier Than This.

We are furious. And sad. And fed up. But mostly furious.

We had a spirited debate with Tudor Friend last night, as a consequence of us having been to the pub with the unisex toilet full of bearded hipster dudes again, only this time the problem wasn't hipster dudes but middle-aged businessmen in grey polyester suits.

Let us explain why we feel so strongly about this issue.

Unisex toilets seem to have become a trend, and it’s leading to sheer bloody misery. The ladies’ toilet is a sacred space – a place where one can take refuge from the male gaze, and rest one’s ears if they have been exposed to an assault of mansplaining. In the ladies’, one can adjust one’s bra, pull up the crotch of one’s tights, check one’s teeth for spinach, and top up one’s eyeliner, in a safe, women-only environment.

Bar owners who impose unisex toilets are depriving women of these essential comforts. Once introduce a space where bearded hipster dudes in denim shirts are hogging the space in front of the sink, and you have set the cause of gender equality back a hundred years.

The ladies’ toilets provide a kind of environment that isn’t usually afforded women in public spaces. Women are accustomed to having their integrity violated – to being sized up, judged, verbally assaulted, and even pinched, grabbed, and smacked. The women’s toilets can be the one place where one can catch one’s breath, enjoy a few moments of stillness, and put one’s brave face back on.

We're not in favour of gender segregation per se, but we can see no possible advantage to unisex toilets.

Or rather, we couldn't, until Tudor Friend showed us this article, from Slate. Don't read it if you're already sad. It shocked us to the core. We like to think that we're cynical, tough-as-nails people at the Counsel, hardened to every expression of human iniquity. But damn it if we weren't unnerved by the sheer sadism of the Florida legislators who want to make it illegal for transgender people to use a toilet that doesn't match their biological sex. As Jezebel reports, a bill titled "Single-Sex Public Facilities" was filed by Florida Republican State Rep. Frank Artilesunder the guise of preventing "criminals, sexual deviants and sexual predators" from harassing women.

Introducing unisex toilets could prevent people like Frank Artiles from harassing transgender people. But so could common-sense legislators, by showing Artiles's bill the scorn it deserves, and shoving it into the bin where it belongs.

We're still not in favour of unisex toilets. But we reiterate that We don't care what a lady is packing under her dress - if she identifies as a woman, then we want to be sharing a toilet with her, and not with fifteen hipster dudes in beards and denim shirts, smiling awkwardly.

We welcome all transgender women to the sisterhood, and look forward to sharing many toilets with them in the future - if they want to! And we're confident that our many excellent male friends feel the same about transgender men.

Now, let's look at some awesome toilets from an excellent bar we went to recently, which manage to be both inclusive and segregated. These, ladies and gentlemen (of whichever biological sex), are from Bee bar in Malmö.

The gents' toilet, flanked by Audrey Hepburn. So far, so good.

The ladies'. Complete with notice advertising ladies' evening.

Also, a unisex toilet! With its own noise-insulating door!

There is a communal sink available for all...
...but each toilet also has its own sink, ensuring privacy for all who wish it.
There's soap and paper towels from Tork.
We love this so much!
Stylish, disability-friendly toilet, covered bin, covered loo-roll holder. And a ventilation grille!
We gibber with joy.

The door is sturdy and has a reassuring lock. This kind of door makes a girl (or boy, or whatever) feel safe.

There is also a royally cool coat hook!



Bee Bar
Södra Förstadsgatan 36, Malmö

Seriously, people. Toilets don't get better than this.

Let's have a festive video and encourage all our friends to fight for the rights of the transgender community!

Festive video - I Will Survive from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, performed by Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving & Guy Pearce

Another Malmö pub toilet with a fab chandelier: Rocking, Rolling, Ranting
Sometimes, the only thing that makes everything better is thinking about Caitlin Moran. All posts about Caitlin Moran.

Friday, 6 February 2015

On the Inherent Evil of Urinals

You would probably not believe us if we told you how much effort we put into these little efforts of ours. You would also probably not believe us if we told you we were engaged in swooning prettily on a chaise-longue while bathing our temples with lavender water. In the latter supposition, you'd be dead right because that is total fucking bullshit. However, we have been engaged in a wide variety of pursuits requiring generous measures of oomph, zip and chutzpah this week, and are feeling a little bit weak in the knees as a result. We ought, by rights, to be assuming a horizontal, whisky-generated position. Still - the bog blog must go on! Also, our friends have been busy being communicative and splendid again, and their efforts should not go unrecognised!

Let's start with a news snippet sent to us by a friend who has strangely escaped the terrible fate of having a Privy Counsel pseudonym forced upon her, which states that US Senator Thom Tills has announced that he thinks restaurant staff shouldn't be forced to wash their hands, because capitalism. We have two words to spare for the good senator: Typhoid and Mary.

Another awesome thing sent to us comes from Tudor Friend, and is a Guardian article about how urinals are degrading to men. It contains the following words, by a journalist called Peter Ormerod who seems, judging by his writing, to be a pretty cool dude, but who unfortunately professes an ill-judged preference for David Bowie (it's ok, Peter - we all have our quirks and lunacies):
The thing is, I’d happily trade in my male privilege for a world without [urinals]. I’m 35 years old and have never knowingly used one. Now I find such matters phenomenally difficult to discuss, and struggle to utter even the gentlest euphemism concerning the expulsion of bodily waste. But all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to say nothing – and as urinals are evil in porcelain, I feel a duty to let it all out.
We find these words worthy of applause, a chocolate cake, and a medium-sized trumpet fanfare!

To celebrate the fact that both our informants are associated with the fair city of York, let's have a couple of photos of  some really, really, really bad toilets in a pub where we have, on many, many, many occasions, had much, much, much fun and hijinks - the Judges Lodging! (Or, as we used to call it, in the carefree fashion of our youth, "J-Lo's".)

The less said about this, the better.

It doesn't get any better in the other picture.

If you venture down into the J-Lo's bar, do take care with the Old Rosie cider - it packs one hell of a punch (there's a reason it's named after a steamroller). Also exercise ceaseless vigilance when it comes to all the varieties of Yorkshire ale.

We don't have a whole lot else to say, except peace out and let's have a festive video!

Festive video - Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Smoking in Heaven

Related Reading
That time when Semi-Intellectual Friend was really freaked out by a urinal:
Rampant Titillation - Basically, a Real-Life Epistolary Novel!
Our own experience of using a urinal: Shewees Are a Girl's Best Friend
All posts about the magnificent city of York
If you enjoy handwashing, this might delight and edify you: all posts about handwashing
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