Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 in Summary: Holding on to Hope, or, We're Really Cunting Angry, or, Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

So that's 2016 over and done with. As has been universally agreed, it's not been a highlight in terms of human enlightenment. Still, one must remember to acknowledge the progress that has been made. For instance, there is now a vaccine against ebola. France has introduced a law that criminalises the act of buying sex. 650 political prisoners have been released worldwide, according to Amnesty International. And the manatee is reportedly no longer at risk of extinction.

We have to remember the good things, because otherwise we will succumb to despair. And we bloody well can't afford to succumb to despair. 2017 is the year when Donald Trump takes over as president of the United States, which means that, most likely, 2017 is the year when a shitstorm of racism, sexism, and every kind of -ism you can think of, including nazism, will be unleashed upon the world. If we want life to be worth living, we have to fight to make it so. Human rights are won through struggle and sacrifice, and once won, they have to be defended. We have to sodding well keep fighting for democracy.

We can't afford to sit on our arses and do nothing. As Caitlin Moran says, "If you have been complaining about something for three minutes, you should have done something about it two minutes ago". If you find yourself complaining about the state of the world, DO SOMETHING. If you have money to spare, donate it to an organisation fighting for civil liberties and human rights. If you don't have money to spare, consider whether you can instead give of your time; find an organisation that needs volunteers.

Human rights will only be breached if we let them. We can stand up for each other. We can organise protest marches. We can show solidarity. There are so many things we can do. Don't do nothing.

A rather incendiary call to arms, what? But who are we to tell people to roll up their sleeves and defend democracy? Who do we think we are? Do we imagine ourselves to be striding up the barricades, one tit hanging out, waving a fucking flag? Hardly. Actually, we spend rather a lot of our time bitching and moaning, and moodily grinding our teeth. In a dark moment recently, we thought to ourselves that we would be fine with the zombie apocalypse arriving round about now, and ending all the rape culture and the sexist bullshit. Zombies, after all, aren't interested in maintaining a toxic, patriarchal hegemony. They just want brains. When we posited this idea to Shewee Fiend Friend, however, she said, firmly: "Yeah, but I want equality first." This seems reasonable. First equality. Then zombie apocalypse. To find the strength to fight for equality, however, we need hope

Hope, according to the old parable about Pandora and her box, is the last thing to abandon humankind. Without hope, we'd all stop writing toilet blogs, or whatever activity we happen to find meaningful, lie down in a puddle, and die. We're not sure that this would be a negative development, considering the way the human race is pushing this planet to hell in a handcart, but let's work on the assumption that we want to keep humanity alive. So. Hope. What gives us hope? Well, mixer taps and good hygiene, for a start.

We have had the good fortune of spending the autumn at an amazing school in the south of Sweden. This school is filled to the rafters with wonderful staff and students, who make every day spent in their company a joy! This school also has exemplary toilets. Not only are they equipped with mixer taps, good-quality soap and paper towels, they also have these amazing signs:

This reminds us of a similar sign in a toilet in a building where we have spent some of the best times, and made some of the best friends, of our lives: the King's Manor in York.

The sign says (a translation will follow for those whose linguistic skills do not quite stretch to reading toilet signs in Swedish):

Råd för att förhindra smittpsridning
För att minska allmän smittpsridning så rekommenderas:
- Noggrann handhygien - tvätta händer ofta och alltid före mat, efter toa-besök och efter man snutit näsan
- Vid nysningar: nys i en pappersnäsduk (som sedan slängs) eller i armvecket
- Undvika att vidröra munnen, ögonen eller peta näsan med "orena" fingrar
- Vädra klassrum med luftgenomdrag 3 min. minst mellan lektioner
- Vistas mer utomhus på rasterna
- Vistas hemma i stillhet vid feber eller påverkat allmäntillstånd

(Advice to prevent the spread of disease
To minimise the general spread of disease, the following measures are recommended:
- Careful hand hygiene - wash hands often and always before eating, after going to the toilet, and after blowing one's nose
- When sneezing: sneeze into a paper handkerchief (which is then discarded), or into your elbow
- Avoid touching your mouth or eyes, or picking your nose, with "unclean" fingers
- Air out each classroom for at least three minutes between classes
- Spend more time outdoors during recess
- Stay at home and rest when you have a fever)

Words cannot quite express how wonderful we find these signs. Suffice to say that when we first caught sight of one of them, we uttered a joyous WOOF! and knew we had found kindred spirits. In a world full of darkness, despair, and bad plumbing, it is kindred spirits and mixer taps that keep the Privy Counsel going! (Again, let us assume that this is something we want to aim for.)

Here is a photo of the disabled toilet at the same school:

See the sign? See it? Isn't it amazing? Also: mixer tap, covered toilet roll holder with toilet roll facing the right way, paper towels, and good-quality soap.

We dearly love signs designed to exhort the public to harden the fuck up and be more hygienic. Let's hope there are more of them in 2017!

We have, in previous years, attempted to get our readers to vote for the year's best bog blog post. However, since the only person who ever votes is Australian Friend (who tried to vote twice last time, in order to be kind, which if possible made us feel even sadder), we will not attempt that again. Also, if there's one thing 2016 has shown us, it is that elections, even democratic ones, can be hugely problematic. Let us instead summarise 2016 by regarding this picture, sent to us by Australian Friend. It says it all, doesn't it?

Australian Friend's comment on 2016.

Before enjoying a rather epic Festive Video, a word on this year's mottoes.
Our mottoes for 2016 were PEOPLE SHOULD FUCK OFF MORE, and FEMINISM NEEDS TO BE MORE MILITANT. We have, by and large, stuck to them. The first motto seemed to strike a chord with the populace at large. We didn't need to clarify, or explain what we meant; everyone appeared to nod sagely, as if to say "I hear ya, bruv. People totally need to fuck off more". The second motto, however, apparently caused some puzzlement. Not everyone understood what we meant by "militant". The word "militant" conjures up, perhaps, images of unattractively dressed people engaged in unattractive, even violent, activities. Let us make it clear that what we meant was not "violent", but rather "uncompromising". Women, in our opinion, make too many compromises when it comes to negotiating with the patriarchy. If you require further clarification, we wrote a Facebook post defending our stance, which you can read here.

Our mottoes for 2017 will be the same as for 2016:

Let us move on to the Festive Video.

Festive Video - Flo & Joan, The 2016 Song

Because our particular brand of OCD makes us unable to handle misspellings of expressions like "en masse" (and also "en route". Oh God, "en route") in Youtube video subtitles, we are providing a full transcript ot the lyrics of this song - spelled right - below. We love the song and everything about it, but - en masse. Our usual recommendations of Related Reading follow below the lyrics.

The 2016 Song

2016 - it's been a time, it's been a struggle
But everything is fine if you're a straight, white, male muggle
We've tried to stay composed, cross our fingers, count to ten
But every time we get to nine you fuck it up again

You took David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince and Sharon Jones
Terry Wogan, Ronnie Corbett, Caroline Aherne and Leonard Cohen
Victoria Wood was enough for us but still you wanted more
Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, and the Great British Bake-Off was the final straw

You shot down a gorilla, we can't cure the zika virus
And the woman's still to blame when men force their way inside us
Brock Turner's not a rapist, 'cause just look how fast he swims
Can someone get me Ambien to calm my shaking quim?

Should we just try to unplug you and then plug you back in?
Did your parents get divorced or did you just drink too much gin?
Goddamnit, 2016, and on top of all of that
Cats is back on Broadway. Who the fuck did that?

Then throw in all the shootings, both en masse and by police
A spike in racist hate crimes and a bombing down in Nice
The death toll is upsetting, and your politics a farce
Thank you, 2016, you fucked us up the arse

'Cause all over the world it's not looking good for you
If you're female, Muslim, POC or LGBTQ
And God fucking forbid we'd let Hilllary be in charge
Instead we get the spunk trumpets and fuckboys in this farce

Yes, you really took a dump when you let twat-nugget Farage
Lead a racist referendum - who put that shitty frog in charge?
Your Brexit was a dumb-dumb, now our country lives in fear
You really are the skidmark of all the shitty years

Yes, the USA's now governed by a fuck-cheeto with hair
And it's not just in the States; the fucking clowns are everywhere

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

Three cheers for fucking Trumpy and his neo-Nazi crew
What a bloody, nasty, messy, booby-fuck to-do

We're sorry for the swearing
And we're sorry to be crude
But we're really cunting angry
And it's all because of you

You laid an egg of solid fuck
You taint-slug made of wee
You garbage-bag of bum dust
You are shitty, shitty 2016

Related Reading

Our classic post on diseases, sneezing, and paper towels:

Other things that give us hope: The toilets at Kensington Palace, the fact that our friends write postcards describing toilets using italics, and also the fact that there is a man in York known, to his admirers, as Pistol Pete, who does Elvis covers 

All posts featuring Caitlin Moran, who really does make everything better even when they are really, really shitty

Remember the days when we spent less time ranting about human rights and much, much more time ranting about whether toilet-roll holders were covered? What can we say? A good rant is a good rant, whatever the topic.

The really lovely toilet at the King's Manor in York, featuring a public health sign: Let's Get Medieval: King's Manor Toilet 

Another post featuring public health signage: In Which We Express Our Gratitude to Electricians Springing Into Action


More festive information from Mythbusters: A Study of the Correlation between the Extremely Scary Toilet Aerosol Effect and Acute OCD in Toilet Bloggers 

All posts featuring New Year's Eve

That's it. Happy fucking new year.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

"My Friend Runs a Toilet Blog" - A Canoodling Kind of Christmas

As all regular readers are aware, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th in all civilised parts of the world*, including, but not limited to, Colombia. As everyone who reads this blog on at least a semi-regular basis is also aware, we would not ever want to foist our opinions on anyone, but it is a recognised fact that celebrating Christmas on any other day but the 24th is weird, incomprehensible, and indicating poor judgment.

Let us thus begin immediately, on this the 24th day of December, getting the season off to a healthy start by admiring this picture of Jonny in Santa hat, taking a toilet selfie!

*Counting, naturally, countries where Christmas is celebrated, only. We are in no way suggesting that parts of the world where Christmas is not celebrated are not civilised. Caveat over, who's for a drink?


Is it ever hot in here? God knows if it's the roaring Yule logs or Jonny's noble physique that's the cause, but we are fanning ourselves rather vigorously!

Next, we have some heartwarming pictures from Meandering Friend, which were first shown to us on 13 December at the traditional Lucia celebration at Lunds Studentskegård, in Lund, Sweden. This special occasion was extremely festive and looked like this:

If you want something done with intelligence, humour, and pizzazz - like this - get academic women to do it!

Meandering Friend told us, on this screamingly celebrational day, that she'd seen the most amazing toilet where one could, if one wished, indulge in genial company and intellectual debate while heeding the call of nature, due to there being two toilets in the same bog! This seemed to us at the time, because it was very early in the morning and we were not in our right mind, like the cosiest, most Christmassy and potentially romantic concept ever! This is truly a place where you can turn the other cheek, in the spirit of Christmas!

HUNKA HUNKA! Can you imagine anything more conducive to romance? We certainly can't!

Meandering Friend, who took time out of a smokin' hot date to take these toilet pictures, writes:
Här kommer de festliga toa-bilderna från Pumphuset i Borås, granne med textilhögskolan och Textile Fashion Center. Använde även "min vän har en toablogg" som del av arsenalen i min dejtingvokabulär.
(Here are the festive toilet pictures from Pumphuset in Borås, next to the Swedish School of Textiles and the Textile Fashion Center. Also used the "my friend runs a toilet blog" gambit as part of the arsenal in my dating vocabulary.)

We are of course delighted to have facilitated the developement of tender feelings by providing bog-related conversation material!

Meandering Friend, who has an interest in materials, would like to point out the enticing blue hue imparted by some kind of wood impregnation.

If this excting knob, like something from a fire hydrant, doesn't make you burst into an excited "WOOF!!", we don't know what will.

Meandering Friend continues:

Fick tyvärr inte möjlighet att testa dubbeltoan då jag denna dag dejtade en person av motsatt kön. Lite besviken.
(Unfortunately didn't get the chance to test the double toilet as I was on this occasion dating a person of the opposite sex. Quite disappointed.)

On our enquiring whether the date was successful, this rampantly intelligent materials expert replied:
Och jodå, två öl och skulpturpromenad. Jag var helnöjd.

(Yeah, two beers and a walk in a sculpture park. I was more than happy.)
Let's give the love birds some space, by engaging in a Festive Video and looking the other way while they canoodle! As you know we are fond of our country music here at the Privy Counsel - the more vulgar the better! We do actually, believe it or not, have some even more vulgar country Christmas songs up our conniving sleeve, but for now, let's stomp our boots to this one:

Festive video - Suzy Bogguss, Two-Step 'Round the Christmas Tree

Tally-ho and merry Christmas!

Related Reading
All posts featuring Meandering Friend

A selection of our favourite Christmas posts:  

In which we rant about the right way to hang toilet rolls:  

In which we discuss atheism and rant about the right way to hang toilet rolls:  

In which we rant about having to write a boring essay on organisational theory:
Advent Musings: In Which We Rant and Ramble Aimlessly, and Don't Even Mention the Word "Toilet" 


In which we attempt to engage our readers in an interactive voting activity, and only get one single vote (we won't be doing that again, you wankers): A Very Wet Blog Post 

An undiscriminating pile of every single one of our posts featuring Christmas

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Oh, Jonny - Losing Our Hearts to a Loose Cannon

It is a truth universally acknowledged that 2016 has been a mind-bogglingly shitty year. The onslaught of misogyny, racism, Islamophobia and general arseholery has been of a magnitude to make even the most battle-hardened feminazi she-devil feel fearful and dejected. Many is the time we have had to have a whisky and a lie-down, clutching our head and blinking frenziedly, hoping everything will go away (it never does). However, the fight continues, and each time we've been stunned into fearful disbelief, frozen on the chaise-longue, we've got back up with fire in our heart and a determined cry of "harden the fuck up!" on our lips.

Not everything has been shrouded in Mordor-esque darkness. Even this tremendously terrible year has had its rays of sunshine. For instance, it has produced A PICTURE OF JONNY ON A CANNON. We jest you not. JONNY! ON! A! CANNON!

Regular readers will recall the lonely hearts ad we wrote on behalf of Jonny back in 2013. Said lonely hearts ad appears to have borne fruit, for rumours have reached us that Jonny is no longer single. Alas! Ladies and gentlemen - we share your pain! However, we shall have to trundle on as best we can, even in the knowledge that Jonny is no longer available. We shall comfort ourselves with these photos that he has generously shared with us. Keep reading and you, too, will be rewarded for not losing heart except in the sense of us all losing our hearts to Jonny, that magnificent piece of joy made flesh.

For those of you who were internet-stalking Jonny on 23 October at 20:43, trying to find out if he was available, it may interest you to know that at that time he was engaged in sending us this picture:

We also received this picture at some point. He's quite the loose cannon, correspondence-wise, is our Jonny!

Read many, many rants about non-functioning British taps here.

The other day we received the following missive:

Got you a present

Wine corks! Colourful ones! Spelling the word toilet! We are dizzy with delight!

Even on holiday I'm still working

Volcanic rock sink was a highlight

Toilets themselves were ok.

Here's me on a cannon for the fans


We can't take any more of this. Let us have a Festive Video forthwith. But first, let us extend a special greeting to our friend Stig, who is very much a fellow soldier in the fight for equal rights. Thanks for the kind thoughts, Stig!

Festive Video - The Andrews Sisters, Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny

Related Reading
The lonely hearts ad we wrote for Jonny back in 2013:
Jonny and a Public Toilet - A Treat for Single Ladies
All posts featuring Jonny

Saturday, 10 December 2016

A Rare Bit of Welsh Welcome, Intermingled with Screaming Bloody Horror

Our efforts to educate the world at large and make it harden the fuck up are, as regular readers know to their chagrin, more or less ceaseless. This educational zeal goes further, believe it or not, than ranting about non-mixer taps and taking photos of exemplary plumbing. For instance, we've been making our students watch the movie Pride a lot lately, because a) it is awesome, and b) it teaches us about human rights and solidarity. Also, we love a healthy Welsh accent as much as the next person, and thinking about Wales reminded us of the toilet photos Audiologist Friend sent us back in August!

Audiologist Friend writes (as usual, an English translation of the original Swedish follows for the linguistically challenged):

Bara Menyn Bakehouse Café i Cardigan, Wales

Äntligen ett ställe där vattenkranarna sitter så pass nära varandra så att man kan blanda till ljummet vatten! Köpte även lunch härifrån och deras smörgåsar var fantastiskt goda - detta ställe är en gömd pärla i staden Cardigan i södra Wales.

(Bara Menyn Bakehouse Café in Cardigan, Wales.

Finally a place where the taps are close enough together for one to be able to mix oneself lukewarm water! Bought lunch from here and their sandwiches were fantastic - this place is a hidden gem in Cardigan, South Wales.)

A rustic, hearty door, beckoning one closer and bidding one welcome! Just what you'd expect of a Welsh bakehouse!

This looks like a cosy and hygienic arrangement.

AAARGH. Just looking at these taps, however, gives us high blood pressure and makes that tense muscle in our neck tie itself into knots. Where did we put the diclofenac?

Moving on to a different toilet, Audiologist Friend continues:
Ett café i universitetsstaden Aberyswidh (oklar över såväl stavning som uttal [editor's note: it's spelled Aberystwyth, and pronounced thus]) hade denna varmvattenslösning: kunde ej klura ut hur den fungerade. Frustrerande.

(A café in the university town Aberyswidh (unsure of spelling as well as pronunciation [editor's note: it's spelled Aberystwyth, and pronounced thus]) had this hot water solution: was unable to figure out how it worked. Frustrating.)


Samma stad men nytt café/restaurang/butik! Allt ekologiskt och fantastiskt gott. Älskar [walesiskan], se så vackert ordet toalett blir. 

(Same town but a new café/restaurant/shop! Everything organic and terrifically tasty. Love the Welsh language; look how beautiful the word toilet becomes.)

This is indeed beautiful, and makes our heart beat faster, though that could just be the effect of all the rage occasioned by the tap above.

Let us lose no time in educating Audiologist Friend about the tap in Aberystwyth that nearly gave us apoplexy! This kind of tap is one that produces boiling hot water, which is no doubt useful if one has the leisure and inclination to fill up a sink with part ragingly hot water, part cold water from the cold water tap. This is not what one wants in a public establishment, however; what one desires is a proper mixer tap in order to be able to wash one's hands satisfactorily. Also the sink tends to be extra small wherever this type of tap is in use, no doubt for sane and normal reasons. The "burn, baby, burn" type tap is known to scald the actual skin off people's hands. It is rampant in the British Isles and can be found, among other places:

In the typical British workplace

In another typical British workplace which brings the level of horror to dizzying new heights

In the 1940s kitchen at the Castle Museum in York

In an outhouse in Orkney

We shall end here, for fear of giving our readers nightmares. The world is bloody well nightmarish enough, what with all the fascism, racism, and screaming misogyny, without dwelling on these tap-related terrors.

In order to lower our pulse and becalm the cold sweat running down our neck, let us contemplate something pleasant. We note to our delight, for example, that "bara menyn" means "bread and butter" in Welsh. Woof!

Let us have a soothing Festive Video. Here's a song that's been playing at Privy Counsel HQ a lot lately, and which we find highly fitting in a non-mixer-tap context.

Festive Video - Ashley Monroe, I'm Good at Leavin'

Related Reading

All posts featuring Audiologist Friend
Read an intellectually satisfying meta-narrative about dangerous and awful British taps here
All posts featuring Wales

More posts featuring dangerous taps:
A Note On Desperate Measures
Are You British? Does Tap Sanity Elude You?
Tap Into Pain

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Bitches Love Pemberleys - Festchrift to Tudor Friend

Friends, it is time for a Festschrift! As you know, rather like the way fat Tory landowners in Georgian times got made Members of Parliament when they reached a certain weight, we write Festschrifts for our friends when they have wandered through the groves of Academe long enough to not only have got hopelessly lost, but acquired terrible blisters and chronic insomnia - and a PhD!

The latest person among our acquaintance to pass her viva with flying colours is Tudor Friend! Our sincerest contrafibularities to that ragingly intellectual cheese aficionado! Tudor Friend is the kind of person who always understands exactly what you mean, and we can honestly say that we would have gone properly batshit crazy on at least four separate occasions without her support, counsel and wisdom. We like to think of ourselves as fiercely logical, well-balanced people here at the Privy Counsel, but right now we are feeling positively emotional. Let us quickly move on before we say anything soppy.

What better way to celebrate Tudor Friend's achievement than by feasting our eyes on pictures of some charming toilets we came across in an old cinema in Malmö, Sweden! We accompanied some young persons to Amnesty Day in this location one wet day in October. It was a most illuminating event, and taught everyone present something about the importance of never ceasing the fight for human rights. If you happen to be feeling combative at the moment, by the way, we heartily recommend the Amnesty Write For Rights campaign, in which one writes letters or Christmas cards to political prisoners to express one's solidarity.

We actually found ourselves wondering, when using this toilet, what Tudor Friend would make of the retro chain and general air of British-people-with-bristling-moustaches-keeping-their-lips-stiff-and-upper-while-using-greaseproof-paper-as-bog-roll.
Do we recognise this sign from anywhere? Why, HELLZ YES!

Rather charming, if cumbersome, taps.

When we asked Tudor Friend what theme she wanted for her Festschrift, she replied:

All I can really say is "I like mixer taps as much as the next girl... Pemberley more than most bitches... and I REALLY love me some cheese!" (A friend once asked me for "Mr Darcy carved out of cheese" for Christmas. But I think a cheese Pemberley would win.)

Thus today's Festive Video, in Tudor Friend's Honour, is of the ragingly intelligent Elizabeth Bennet singing an aria from The Marriage of Figaro, possibly our favourite opera, to a handsome man in a cravat. Unfortunately the video cuts off just as Mr Darcy is about to stride manfully up and down the gallery at Pemberley, thinking of Miss Bennet, while his dogs pad along behind him. Woof!

Festive Video - Elizabeth Bennet singing an English version of Voi che sapete, from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, in the 1995 BBC dramatisation of Pride and Prejudice.

Related Reading
All posts featuring Tudor Friend
All posts featuring Festschrifts
All posts featuring Malmö
If you, too, enjoy Mozart operas, you may like the following posts:
Tod und Verzweiflung, But Also a Rampant (If Temporary) Triumph
Up in the Air - Introducing Exuberant Archaeologist Friend

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Good Times, Good Friends, Good People

You know how you spend some days wishing you lived in the same country as your friends, so you could take diclofenac and eat cheesy popcorn together? The world got a lot darker last week, and it looks like it will continue getting darker for the foreseeable future. It feels more important than ever to stay close to, and drink alcohol with, those friends that light up the darkness with their wit and their kindness. Many of our friends live in a different country or even a different continent from us, which means that we spend a disproportionate amount of our time being sober, and hanging out on social media at odd times of the day, ranting about the patriarchy with equal parts belligerence and sleepy-eyed incoherence. It is a good thing that we have the internet, and the Privy Counsel, to keep us connected! As you all know, the Privy Counsel is an international community of intellectuals, giving counsel, advice and information on toilet-related topics. We also care deeply about human rights, and will continue bellowing about the equal value of all human beings, regardless of sex, colour, and sexuality. (Though we draw the line at hanging out with people who listen to Coldplay.)

Today is the 19th of November which, as all regular readers are aware, is World Toilet Day! Hurrah! It is surely no coincidence that the birthday of the person who suggested we start this blog, in order to get all the toilet whingeing out of our system and stop annoying our friends with it, falls on WORLD TOILET DAY? We think not! Happy birthday, Enlightened Friend! These past six years of delightful ranting would never have happened without you! It is actually also our own birthday - we turn six years, one month and one day today! Hurrah!

Also, we received a message from Shewee Fiend Friend this afternoon! That fierce feminist is presently in Canada, and writes thusly:

I was in a delightful bathroom today!
We went to a Cajun themed restaurant
Bon temps
Which locals pronounce 'bone tempts'
Because they are ignorant farmers who think 'French' is a strange illness
Anyway, we had awesome brunch
You know my feelings about brunch
Crayfish eggs Benedict
With a morning cocktail
Here's the bathroom

 Lousy blurry picture for the men's
Because who cares about them

We love almost seeing people!
Obviously there's mixer taps. It is a developed country
I love the mirrors everywhere
We once spent a very memorable evening - in the sense that we can't remember very much of it - with Shewee Fiend Friend in a pub with an awesome ceiling in Winchester.
 Awesome roof

Both stalls wheelchair accessible

I suppose the coat hook was so cool someone was inspired to tear it off and take it home
That's all I got for you

 Woof! Many thanks to Shewee Fiend Friend! Another friend, who we know through Shewee Fiend Friend, sent us this festive link to celebrate World Toilet Day! The link leads to a site that - how fabulous is this! - tells you how to review a toilet from a disability perspective! Said friend says:

It's world toilet day! We were sent an email at work about accessible loos! I thought of you...
As you know we care deeply about disability friendliness at the Privy Counsel, and not only because, in that vast and inhospitable desert of fucked-up toilets known as Britain, the disabled toilet is usually much cleaner and has a much better tap than the ordinary toilets. Certain members of the Privy Counsel suffer from a chronic RSI which has at times been so crippling that they have been unable to turn flush handles or taps, and we thus tend to note whether a toilet is disability friendly or not.

Before we break off to go ogle pictures of Justin Trudeau - so lithe! and so deliciously feminist! - let's have a festive video that reminds us of our friends! Hurrah!

Festive Video - Little Big Town, Good People

Related Reading
A pub in Winchester with a very creepy ceiling, where we went once with Shewee Fiend Friend: Hallowen Horror - Drunken Graffiti and Mindless Lurching in Winchester
All posts featuring Enlightened Friend
All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend
All posts featuring Canada

Saturday, 12 November 2016

A Friendly French Toilet - Bordering on the Boisterous in Bordeaux

You know when you start the weekend with a breakfast of the strongest painkillers you can lay your hands on, and all of the leftover nachos from last night, because what the hell - we're all fucked anyway. The most powerful nation in the world decided it couldn't handle the idea of a woman for president, and instead elected a racist, sexist, hate-mongering horror clown. The way things are looking, we're all going to hell in a handcart.

Here's a bright spot, though: According to Australian Friend, monosodium glutamate turned out not to be so dangerous after all! Apparently, the whole scare originated with the fear of the Asian "other" in the 1980s. There is now no impediment to eating sickening amounts of supermarket-own-brand nachos - yay! (We have no verifiable source on this factoid about monosodium glutamate, but we are happy to take Australian Friend's word for it. We have been taking this amazonean antipodean's advice since about 2007, and she has never steered us wrong yet!)

If there is one thing that makes us feel marginally less bewildered in a dark and terrifying world full of bigots and non-mixer taps, it is looking at toilet pictures from happier times. Here are Australian Friend's photos from her roadtrip through Europe this summer!

Australian Friend writes:
L'Autre Petit Bois in Bordeaux

 Excuse the blurriness but I was acting fast!

This picture reminds us of a favourite quote from Caitlin Moran:
"Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy, and to read things more clearly. You will be bright and constant in a world of dark and flux, and this will save you the anxiety of other, ultimately less satisfying things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’ and ‘being very thin’."

We might as well continue with the CatMo quotes. Because we can (almost) see one of our best friends in this picture, this one feels relevant:
"Choose your friends because you feel most like yourself around them, because the jokes are easy and you feel like you’re in your best outfit when you’re with them, even though you’re just in a T-shirt. Never love someone whom you think you need to mend – or who makes you feel like you should be mended. There are boys out there who look for shining girls; they will stand next to you and say quiet things in your ear that only you can hear and that will slowly drain the joy out of your heart. The books about vampires are true, baby. Drive a stake through their hearts and run away."

This picture in particular makes us feel safe and loved.

This is also very comforting.

We're not sure about the gunk on this tap. But, come the zombie apocalypse, we will all be grateful just to have running water at all!

Caitlin Moran:
"Babyiest, see as many sunrises and sunsets as you can. Run across roads to smell fat roses. Always believe you can change the world – even if it’s only a tiny bit, because every tiny bit needed someone who changed it."

Caitlin Moran again:
"Think of yourself as a silver rocket – use loud music as your fuel; books like maps and co-ordinates for how to get there."

More Caitlin Moran:
"Life divides into AMAZING ENJOYABLE TIMES and APPALLING EXPERIENCES THAT WILL MAKE FUTURE AMAZING ANECDOTES. However awful, you can get through any experience if you imagine yourself, in the future, telling your friends about it as they scream, with increasing disbelief, ‘NO! NO!’"

Another lamp in a corner! And our last CatMo quote for today:
"Always remember that, nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown – you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit. You’d be amazed how easily and repeatedly you can confuse the two. Get a big biscuit tin."
I think you can see the key points
Surplus pink toilet paper
Mixer taps
A chandelier
At this point we replied:
These are what we would call the themes of the toilet #englishteacheroverload

After making the appropriate chortling noises, Australian Friend continued:
The pic with the candles is outside the door
There was only one toilet and due to etiquette I had to move fast so as not to hold any other patrons up
Also note the magazines
The food was good!
I had a Sicilian tartine

I had to visit twice
(8 hours in the car)
Many, many thanks to Australian Friend! Friends really are amazing. It's when you have the kind of friends who message you, just as you are tearing your hair trying to think what to make for dessert, saying "Shall we bring dessert?", that you know that, although the road may be long and weary, full of sharp rocks and occasionally bordered by insane horror clowns, you will ultimately be alright.

Let's finish with a Festive Video.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Stockholm Central Station: The Trauma Is So Great We Are Brought To Quoting Cicero

Quousque tandem abutere, Stockholm Central, patientia nostra?

 We were invited to celebrate the birthday of a very dear friend of ours, and for this reason got the sleeper train to Stockholm, a place we normally go to great lengths to avoid. All our worst paranoid fears were justified when we, having staggered off the train at 6:16 a.m., bleary-eyed and with the bonhomie of a gouty grizzly bear, went in search of the ladies', in order to tend to our personal hygiene and apply some make-up, only to find that the toilets were BLOODY UNISEX.

Now, we agree with you that it would be vastly preferable if we lived in a world where women weren't judged more on appearance than competence. We would totally fucking love it if a woman weren't 2.6 times more likely to be interrupted than a man, if women aspiring to any kind of authority didn't receive death- and rape threats as a matter of course, and if every time we appeared in public with no make-up on, people didn't flock around us asking if we're alright, as we look so tired. We would be thrilled if make-up weren't a prerequisite to women being taken seriously. Unfortunately, we have have grown up in a world where the foremost measure of a woman's worth is her appearance, and, thanks to this early socialisation, we are rather prone to slapping on some foundation and eyeliner before even attempting to interact with our fellow human beings.

The application of make-up requires solitude. It is a very private ritual, designed to provide an armour to mask one's inherent vulnerability in a man's world. A ritual that one certainly doesn't want some random person, cushioned by male privilege, to come and gawk at. This is why we are appalled every time we need to adjust our make-up and the toilets are unisex.

As we have stated before, we are all in favour of unisex toilets - as long as they don't leave women vulnerable to the male gaze, and the potential of male violence that it entails. We're aware that going to a public toilet is awkward for many trans people, and would cheer on a constructive solution to this problem. We simply fail to fathom why "inclusivity" appears to mean reducing women's safety. If having only men's and women's toilets means that some people feel unsafe, then for fuck's sake either introduce a third category, or make sure that any unisex toilets offer a safe space for women!

Here's what happened when we got to the toilets at Stockholm Central train station:

We paid our ten kronor to the friendly attendant.

We went into an uncomfortable and not overly clean cubicle. We have ranted on the vileness of cubicles many times before, and do not need to further expostulate on this subject.
We despaired at the sound of a creepy middle-aged man trying to chat up two teenage girls right outside our cubicle, and deplored a world that allows him access to them in this despicable hell-hole of a restroom.
We washed our hands in the none-too-clean trough-like sinks. (What is this modern obsession with sinks in the shape of troughs? Is this a conspiracy by hipsters wanting everything to look like 19th-century farm equipment?)

We despaired at the absence of mirrors, and muttered the filthiest medieval curse we could think of, wishing warts and a wasting disease on the person who decided it was a good idea to install vaguely reflective black panels instead of mirrors.

We scowled at the pathetic "footage-of-a-fireplace-on-a-loop" installation, and wished, in a fit of petulance, that we had brought our shewee so we could piss disdainfully all over it.

We sent death rays of hatred in the direction of the person who decided to install air dryers instead of proper paper towels.

We washed our face, drying it with a tissue we had luckily brought with us, and wished that someone had had the forethought to predict that people would want to tend to their ablutions when getting off the sleeper train, and would require a more comfortable and hygienic option than sticking their face under the air dryer.

We scowled at the man unabashedly staring at us while we applied our make-up. We restrained ourselves from punching said man in the face.

We moved to a different sink.

The man followed us, and kept staring.

Dear Stockholm Central, would it be too hard to install a space where women can escape from the male gaze for just a few minutes, and actually feel safe? Would it not be possible to rip out the awful cubicles - that everyone hates anyway - and install proper toilets, with a proper sink and mirror in each one?

Even the famed Swedish blogger Blondinbella, who is not someone we would normally identify with, has expressed her disgust at the cringe-worthy awkwardness of mixed-sex toilets, and the traumatising experience of trying to apply make-up with a man staring at one.

Jernhusen, meanwhile - the company that owns all of Sweden's train stations - claim in a mindbogglingly imbecilic press release that the toilets at Stockholm Central "have been designed with inspiration from several natural elements, such as fire and water [how about wind?] and with aspects which attract [sic] several of visitors' senses [which ones, exactly?].

Despite this rampant hyperbole from Jernhusen, we felt uncomfortable and downright unsafe while visiting their toilets at Stockholm Central. We urge our readers to continue to avoid going to Stockholm, or, if you must go there, to avoid using the toilets at the central station.

Thankfully, once we arrived a our destination for the weekend, Mora Hotell in Mora, our senses were soothed and our spirit revived by a truly excellent toilet!

Isn't this hygienic, copper-coloured toilet-roll holder just beautiful?

An excellent, excellent sink. It truly restored our equilibrium after the cattle-trough trauma at Stockholm Central!

Everything in this toilet is beautiful and works well - from the toilet to the ventilation!

A sturdy bin, at a comfortable distance from the truly, truly excellent toilet. And there's that copper-coloured toilet-roll holder again! Woof!

A festive copper-coloured lamp, lighting up some festive locally sourced art.

We give this toilet two very enthusiastic thumbs up! (We are confident that, if Leslie Knope had been with us, she would also have loved this toilet.)

We have, actually, a whole hoard of fantastic photos from Australian Friend, Audiologist Friend, and Meandering Friend, but right now we have an urgent appointment with a gin and tonic. Let's finish with a festive video, shall we? Except let us first wish Maureen Helen - a fine, upstanding Australian and one of our favourite bloggers ever - a happy birthday!

Today's Festive Video carries a message which we rather think we could all do with hearing, but perhaps especially the teachers among us: You may feel like you're orienteering in the dark, with your feet bound and a pack of wolves howling just across that field full of landmines and clowns, and like your lesson planning is haphazard to the point of endangering your students' actual mental health. But actually, you're DOING JUST FINE.

Festive Video - Rodney Atkins, Doin' It Right

Related Reading
Another rather lengthy rant on unisex toilets: Love, Politics and the Revolution
The best unisex toilets we have ever come across are at the Bee Bar in Malmö

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Happy Pedalling in Berlin

Tally-ho! It's been a while since our last post, but your favourite feminist bog blog is back! With, if not a vengeance, at least a hangover. We spent yesterday evening in a bar with the most amusing beer names, and if there is one thing we at the Privy Counsel enjoy, it is beer and amusing names!

Today we are mostly enjoying total silence, and tea, but if you fancy it we might also enjoy some kick-arse toilet pictures together. Audiologist Friend writes:

Tänkte att Tyskland kan väl inte ha något att komma med efter alla roliga badrum i England och Wales men måste dela med mig av denna hygieniska konstruktion!!! Händerna är fria eftersom man trampar för att spola toaletten, spola kranvatten SAMT öppna båda skjutdörrarna! Baren Haliflor.
I thought that Germany wouldn't have anything to offer after all the amusing bathrooms in England and Wales, but I have to share this hygienic construction!! Your hands are free, since you  push a pedal to flush the toilet, operate the tap AND open both sliding doors! The Haliflor bar.

Schiebetür! Woof!

We love this more than words can express.


There is only one word that covers this, and that word is WOW!! with two exclamation marks.

Happy pedalling in Berlin!

That's about all we have energy for right now; we require urgent contact with the floor, and maybe some cheese.

Today's Festive Video is neither festive nor a video, but it does contain a large dose of, as our students would no doubt say, BADASS. Our friend Rebecca Nice was sexually harassed by her tutor at university. Sexual harassment is more common than most people realise. The reason we don't usually hear about it is because victims are often too scared to talk about what has happened, and because employers are inclined to protect offenders. It's funny, for instance, how often an employer will claim to take sexual harassment seriously, and to have a zero-tolerance policy towards it, yet not conduct any proper investigations when a complaint is made.
Rebecca, however, has refused to be silent, and speaks up on Radio 5:

You can read more about Rebecca Nice and her sexual harassment case at the Guardian
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