Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Halloween Special: The Mystery of the Sticky Spot on the Floor, or, The Telltale Splash, or, Scared Shitless!


Turns out we haven't done a Halloween post since 2014! However, we luckily have all the right people in our life, and consequently received the following message, a little while ago, from Jonny:
I’ve done another toilet review

My first experience of shared toilets

However I have had a beer and I’m too sleepy to type it out

I have come up with a nifty idea I’d like to see on the blog
As a Halloween special I’d like you to interview your regular readers and perhaps some guests to find out their ‘top toilet horrors’.

Mine is when guys wee on the seat.
It’s awful. No further comments needed.
But sometimes it’s like alllll over
Like they are aiming for the seat

 We have basically never turned down a legitimate reader request (the people who keep emailing us offering a lucrative deal in Chinese portaloo import can fuck off), and we don't intend to start now.

The topos of the asshole who wees on the seat has been explored fully by Shewee Fiend Friend, most notably in the post (Don't) Aim for the Stars, in which she wrote, memorably:

My roommate who pisses on the floor is pissing considerably less on the floor since I spoke to him. However, he has started regularly having this friend over who does not seem to even aim for the toilet. He creates small pools.
Semi-Intellectual Friend
once put forth the theory that some kind of target would prevent the regrettable mess caused by males unable to aim:

I think, if you put a big red and white target at the bottom of a toilet and gave men points for aiming as close to the centre of the target as possible, men would feel patronized by it but still be unable not to try to hit the target. Toilet floors would immediately become cleaner. I think, if there was some way of recording high scores, it would be incredibly successful.

However, we have yet to see the research proving this theory. The only thing we can offer in the way of academic inquiry is this picture, adding to the vast store of anecdotal evidence showing that many men are constitutionally unable to perform tasks requiring even rudimentary hand-eye coordination, begging the question how they have managed, for millennia, to hold on to the lion's share of legal, constitutional and economic power. 

You can't see the sticky spot on the floor because a) the photographer was deliberately avoiding it, and b) the floor had, mercifully, been recently cleaned. This picture is from our very first Halloween toilet post; the seminal work which sparked the entire genre, if you will, of the Halloween bog blog post.

Asked whether she had any recent work to add to the body of research on men who are unable to aim into the toilet, Shewee Fiend Friend said:
Once, I put a sign on my toilet lid saying, 'please don't wee on the seat'. And somebody weed on the sign.  

We should perhaps change the topic here, lest we permanently traumatise sensitive readers. Jonny, who has really been getting into the Halloween toilet theme this year, no doubt for sane and normal reasons of his own, sent us a missive saying:

 Not sure if sitting on this has affected my ability to produce offspring. Maybe it's a good thing given your stats from the most recent post.


 Next, we are proud to present a tale of toilet horror so gruesome as to chill the spine of even the most hardened toilet horror sufferer - even Brits, inured to centuries of plumbing ineptitude, will find this hair-raising! It is from Tudor Friend, who heeded the call to share "top toilet horrors". Are you sitting down? Have you got a fortifying drink in your hand? Have you recently heeded the call of nature? (If not, we will not be held responsible for any terror-induced accidents.)

Per the Privy Counsel's request: a tale of toilet horror. I present to you: Toilet Horror Stories: Mexican Plumbing and Teenage (American) Boys

When I was 15, I went to Mexico on a trip arranged by my high school Spanish teacher. Several of my friends from other years went as well, including the two guys on the trip. Their room, in a fairly high-rise hotel in Mexico City, was next to ours.

We didn’t really mind that there was an open vent between our shower and theirs, because it was at ceiling level and while it let us talk to one another in the shower, a conceptually creepy event that’s just funny when you’re teenagers and friends, you would have had to be about 8 feet tall to see each other’s face, let alone each other’s anything else. The shower vent is notable architecturally but it’s the rest of the shared plumbing that pertains to this story.

Now, Mexico City has a very high water table. It was built on a swamp, so buildings do things like, you know, sink. This also makes for some, shall we say challenging, plumbing issues, especially in taller buildings. Water pressure is shit. Toilets flush as if they’re halfway through a coma and just can’t be arsed. And that’s on a good day. You’re told preemptively to minimise paper usage, and in a lot of places you don’t flush the loo roll at all, you throw it in a wastepaper basket. (Can we all say “eww”?) Luckily, at our hotel, you could flush. Barely, but you could. (You almost prayed for Montezuma's Revenge because you knew the toilet probably couldn't handle a healthy crap.)

So, one day, our bog stops doing even its most feeble flushing. We're talking, it's looking at urine and going, nope, too much effort. Which is bad enough, but the next time we tried to coax it into something resembling life, not only did it not flush the paper in the bowl, but things… other things…. loo roll and, well, crap… started coming up into the bowl. You can imagine the slight panic that ensued among the ladies of my room. We ran into the hall to find our teacher, the only one with enough Spanish to really explain to maintenance that something was very, very wrong.

“Maintenance” was a tiny little man who came up to my shoulder and had very limited English and quite a heavy accent. He was perfectly pleasant to us but was moderately perplexed. Until someone thought to question whether the boys’ toilet was also having issues.

Turns out that, for reasons only known to teenage male idiots (and probably not even to them- the thing is, these weren’t foaming stupid morons but, you know, National Merit scholars, genuinely clever lads in general, who inexplicably had the biggest brain shit conceivable, leading to other issues of dumpage), they had “decided to see what would happen if they just didn’t flush for a couple of days”. What would happen is that their toilet would, predictably, block up. And block ours up. And, as it turned out, the room next to ours on the other side.

Tiny Mexican Maintenance Man just about had a stroke. To my dying day I will see him (he only came up to my shoulder, which somehow made it that much funnier) jumping up and down, screaming, waving a plunger. “You do not do this! Flush immediately! You do not use all that paper - use one sheet and flush immediately! One sheet, one sheet! Flush immediately!”

The boys were abashed. My roommates and I were torn between horror and hilarity. And poor Tiny Mexican Maintenance Man had to spend about an hour breaking up the true horror that was sitting in the toilet bowl, waiting for a pureeing and then about eighteen flushes before the system finally cleared.

Sometimes horror is a thing humanity makes for itself. Usually when it should know better.

We promised Jonny something special for this post's Festive Video, and dutifully explored the internet's wide array of toilet-related horror, finding several satisfactorily creepy videos (this one, for example: we identify strongly with the swearing and crazed internal monologue). We even found some profoundly unsettling reflections on a previous Festive Halloween Video.

However, in the end we decided that you can dress up as a slutty pumpkin, watch scary movies and fantasise about the zombie apocalypse all you want, there is still nothing scarier than the everyday terrors endured by every single fucking one of the world's women, one third of whom, at a conservative estimate, have been subjected to sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.

Festive Video: The Dixie Chicks, Goodbye, Earl

All posts on the theme of aiming

Some more posts on the theme of aiming 

All posts featuring Jonny

All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend

All posts featuring Semi-Intellectual Friend

All posts featuring Tudor Friend

Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Ominous Unlockable Door of Perugia

We ranted last week about the importance of taking a sick day when one feels like one has been possessed by a crapulence demon, which is cackling evilly and throbbing just behind one's frontal bone, and like literally the only thing that will save one's health from ruination and despair is to spend an entire day in bed watching Peaky Blinders and swearing quietly to oneself in a fake Brummie accent.

Of course, not everyone has the ability to take a sick day when sick. If there is one thing the presidential farce in the US has taught us, it is that not everyone in this world has health insurance, or the kind of employment contract that acknowledges that one is a human being, who will occasionally need to do human things, like resting.

As mentioned previously (for instance here, here, and also here), a toilet blogger's life is by necessity filled with many activities not related at all to bog-blogging. (There are few, if any, who have struck lucky and entered the elysian fields of full-time toilet-contemplation.) Your average toilet reviewer will spend most of their time toiling in the sweat of their brow, and also other places, some of which you wouldn't believe if we told you, to ensure that the wolf is kept from the door and that the cupboard is reasonably well stocked with bread for the day.

Still, we are quite happy just to have a job, and a salary with which to buy rum, wolf-repellent, and other essentials, and are, by and large, reasonably happy with our life situation (apart from, obviously, all the sexism, and racism, and Nazism, and all the other -isms lurking everywhere, and also all the crap plumbing).

Our life situation, happy though we are with it in general (apart from the caveats listed above), does not permit us, alas, to fuck off to Perugia on a whim and take photos of toilets. Other people, however, apparently do have the kind of life situation that enables them to fuck off to Perugia and take photos of toilets. Our Mum, for instance. She sent us an informative missive the other day, saying:

Bar Caffè Stuzzicheria del Grifo, 23 Piazza Piccinino, 20 m från domkyrkan i Perugia. Trevlig uteservering med toa för konsumerande gäster. Har 2 dörrar varav den yttersta inte går att låsa och den innersta inte går att stänga.
Har tvättmöjlighet och toapapper men ingen nedfällbar toasits. 

(Bar Caffè Stuzzicheria del Grifo, 23 Piazza Piccinino, 20 metres from the cathedral in Perugia. Nice al fresco seating, with a toilet for guests. Has two doors, of which the outermost one is unlockable, and the innermost one uncloseable.
Has sink and toilet paper but no toilet seat.)

The seat-less toilet. Regular readers will recall Jonny's similarly seatless toilet from last week.
(Due to insurmountable technical difficulties,
this and the following photos are all sideways.)

The sink. Does a piece of your soul whither away and die
when contemplating this picture? A piece of our soul does.

This is a daring piece of toilet door photography! Brava, mamma!

We believe this is the al fresco dining area

Another one of our correspondents went to Stockholm the other weekend and stayed in a fancy hotel. Why anyone would choose to go to Stockholm of their own free will is beyond us. We don't like Stockholm, never have, and never will. Still. Presumably someone has to live there. Good luck to them.

A thoroughly non-offensive set-up, n'est-ce pas?

An elegant, even dramatic - but not wholly functional - shower.

Did we mention that we adore black-and-white tiled floors? Woof!

Our correspondent, earnestly at work.

La pudeur en defaut. A thoroughly offensive picture, showing a man
subjecting a woman to the kind of perving that amounts to sexual violence.

Apparently, just like the hotel where we stayed once with Australian Friend in Edinburgh, the Lady Hamilton Hotel in Stockholm's Old Town adheres to the criterion formulated by Helen Fielding's heroine Olivia Joules. We will repeat our statement from October 2011:

Personally, we couldn't care less, but in case you find the state of the end of the toilet roll a matter of importance on a par with democracy, world peace and being able to find a really good mojito: Reader, we assure you, the toilet paper in this hotel was folded into a neat point at the end.

By the way, here is a highly festive and decorative urinal for men in Stockholm's Old Town. Shame there is no equivalent service for the ladies.

A laudably decorative urinal. Shame the lack of equivalent services for women
makes this yet another expression of public sexism.

Another instance of decorative public facilities: an old phone box preserved in Stockholm! Perhaps this is where the ladies are supposed to tend to their business?

We'll go off on a proper rant about the lack of
public urinals for women another time. Hang on, turns out we already did.

We've devoted a lot of time and energy to feministing recently, and are correspondingly exhausted. Our recent brush with indisposition and decrepitude has taught us the importance of listening to one's body, and chillling the fuck out. We are, therefore, determined to spend the rest of this Sunday doing fuck-all except perhaps lying on the chaise-longue, imbibing whisky via a funnel. (We don't know if you have discovered this already, but if you add ginger to whisky it becomes a health drink of great magnitude, which has the further advantage of tasting delicious. It works with rum, too.)

One final reflection: Something we've been ruminating lately is the need for people to fuck off more. And, when people don't fuck off (the default setting for most people is apparently to not fuck off when you want them to), for you to turn your phone off and go to bed at 7 pm, if that is what you really want.

Some words from the Band Perry have been fluttering around our prefrontal cortex over the past couple of weeks. We realise, upon looking the lyrics up online, that we misheard. Still, here is what we heard:
I just wanna stay in the dark
Turn off all the lights
Come home in time
I just wanna stay in the dark
To paraphrase Stephen Fry (not for the first time): Now we've said just about everything there is to be said, most of it inconsequential to a degree, we're mongrel-bitch tired and our fist cannot form letters any more, so fuck off, our darlings, and leave us alone.

Festive Video: The Band Perry, Stay in the Dark

Related Reading

All posts featuring Our Mum

Posts featuring sweating, in various and sometimes surprising places:

Nothing Short of a Long Memory

Educational Cake

This special post not only mentions sweating but also tells the thrilling story of when we stayed in a fancy hotel in Edinburgh with Australian Friend:
Literary Hotel Musings

A rant on the lack of public urinals for women: Piss-Poor Performance

All posts featuring toilets in Italy

If you happen to belong to the population cohort that enjoys sideways bloody pictures, ogle them to your heart's content here

Sunday, 15 October 2017

A Message of, Perhaps, Hope

We came to the conclusion recently that when you find yourself at work clutching your head and feeling woozy and hungover despite not having been drinking, it's time to take a sick day.

You'd think this would be a fairly straightforward decision, but there are many variables to take into consideration. For instance, will work be able to continue without you in the building, or will the whole place spontaneously implode - even combust? (We like to think of ourselves as modest, hard-working people at the Privy Counsel, but there are barely concealed delusions of grandeur lurking under the surface, and the concept of anything ever getting properly done without us makes little, if any, sense.)

Even if your place of work does not burst into flames in your absence, is it reasonable to stay at home, you may ask yourself, when a dose of harden the fuck up and another dose or two of diclofenac would probably get you through the day, even if the bags under your eyes got so heavy you were tripping over them and you started having real concerns about liver damage?

This is one of the many situations where having good friends will literally save your life. Sure, you can take more painkillers, keep your lip stiff and upper and soldier on. But what good will it be? Who will benefit from your burnout? Fucking nobody, that's who.

We've been reflecting, over the last few days, on the good fortune of having friends with the grace and wisdom of knowing when to tell you what you want to hear, and when to tell you what you need to hear. For instance, what you want to hear may very probably be "You're so clever and amazing", but what you need to hear may well be something much more along the lines of, "Your arguments are weak and the structure of your text sucks. Now pour yourself a whisky and don't get back to me until you have produced work to the high standard of which I know you are capable if you put your mind to it". Harsh, but so much better for you in the long run.

Having friends, in short, who will tell you to rewrite your painstakingly crafted text when that is needed, or to stay in bed a whole day watching Peaky Blinders and quietly swearing to yourself in a Brummy accent when that is required for your health and sanity, is a blessing.

We've been reflecting also on the fact that we have friends who send messages like this:
I have 2 toilet reviews for you
Both with mirror selfies of course
Let me know next time Trump’s regime is getting you down and I’ll send across.
As you can naturally tell from the robust, masculine style of writing, that message was from Jonny, and a heartening message it was too. As we lost no time in telling that jovial young chap, the patriarchy gets us down all the time, non-stop, continually, perpetually, so fucking well send those toilet selfies fucking ASAP, before we really lose it. Jonny obliged. (Remember when we wrote a lonely hearts ad for Jonny? We stand by every word, including the words "a spanking good catch".)

Here you go:

There is only one word that is appropriate here, and that word is Woof!

These are The Graduate in York

I think I did a mini-review before but I nailed this selfie and I like the mirror so I did a follow-up review
[Editor's note: We have a horrible feeling that the mini-review mentioned above has not been published yet but is bobbing around somewhere in our archive, and that we have consequently made ourselves guilty of discontinuance and a lack of chronological order, for which we would apologise profusely if we thought that anyone actually cared.]
It goes downhill from here.

The soul does not soar at this sorry sight.
Incidentally, Tudor Friend once reviewed a toilet whose bog roll holder likewise required active gymnastics.

 No toilet seat. Was cold. On a positive note you get a great abs workout reaching behind your head for toilet paper.

Modern-day Romeo and Juliet-style literature adorns the walls to keep you occupied

At this point we're reasonably confident
that you've reached the same conclusion we have: There ain't no sugar-coating this toilet.

 Who even needs a coat hook..?

There is only one appropriate word here, too, and that word is UGH.

Finally the pièce de résistance... a handy peep-hole in case you are wondering what people are up to in the neighbouring stall.

Overall 2/10
Only Jonny's generous nature would give this toilet even a single point. Readers, we will have to trust his judgement on this one. That winsome young whippersnapper continues with another review:

Toilets 2: Event City Manchester
When will designers of coat-hooks understand that no hook
will ever be truly satisfactory without an upwards curve, however slight?
Contemplating aberrations like this is one of the few moments of modern life
where one wishes there were more Freudianism around, not less.

Hercule Poirot would undoubtedly be pleased with this squareness,
perhaps even going so far as to chortle approvingly.

 Nice deep urinals
Had a long coat hook

Mixer taps

Hand driers
Oh.. and for some reason had wacky carnival mirrors:

Does anyone have any energy left with which to chuckle delightedly?

Ladies and gentlemen, we hope you feel fortified and ready to tackle the week ahead, whether it includes fighting the patriarchy or merely keeping body and soul and perhaps the odd shred of sanity together. We thank Jonny profusely for his kind contribution to this intellectual toilet blog, and hasten along to today's festive video. This one features one of our favourite girl country singers, Brandy Clark, who has a surprisingly large repertoire of songs about hangovers.

Festive Video: Brandy Clark, Hungover

Related Reading

Our lonely hearts ad featuring Jonny in his natural environment (easy now, ladies; please form an orderly queue):
Jonny and a Public Toilet - a Treat for Single Ladies

Another rampantly festive blog post: Educational Cake

All posts featuring Jonny

As the nights draw in, the  discerning reader craves a good murder mystery. Voilà: The Body in the Bathtub: A Poirot Mystery

Friday, 6 October 2017

At Your Service

You know that feeling when - never mind not knowing where you're going - you don't even know where you are at the moment? Don't worry, we've been feeling like that most of the time lately. We're not entirely sure how to get back on the main road when your metaphorical car is a banged-up Peugeot that keeps returning to the same pissoir in a desolate village in the arse-end of rural France, though research suggests that self-medication incorporating lots of very small glasses of wine and obsessive use of the Calming manatee website may provide relief.

It is important, also, to not be alone with your crazed and derailed thoughts. One method that works really well for us is sending angry messages with links to articles about things that we don't agree with to Shewee Fiend Friend, neglecting to take the 8-hour time difference between ourselves and this stoic but sleep-deprived academic into account.

Rest assured that if, like us, you haven't the faintest idea where you are, you are not alone. Jonny, too, could use some directions. That strapping young toilet photographer sent us the following missive:

Toilet review
Found this gem on the way to Kent yesterday

Stall height. Quite low.
Unacceptable stall height
No seat and strange duct tape modification on the toilet roll (presumably to stop people stealing them).
At least they had a toilet brush

Frankly, in this case, we don't find the presence of a toilet brush at all reassuring.
Not a very good locking system, no coat hook and some graffiti


Space age style taps with blue and red respective buttons

Probably filtered straight from the urinal
Overall 3/10

When asked whether he remembers the name of the establishment, Jonny, that agile young stripling, replied:


Put Dartford Services

I'm 70% on that
Jonny is not the only one who has been to a service station and photographed the toilets, but forgotten where he was and what he was doing. One of our correspondents visited some highly satisfactory petrol station facilities in Sweden a little while ago, and sent the following photos:

A cheerful wall decoration and an entirely adequate coat hook still leave this contributor apparently unimpressed, or perhaps just frantically trying to work out where she is.

Mixer tap, soap and functioning paper-towel dispenser in all the right places: Woof!

The sign says "Se livet genom framrutan, inte genom backspegeln" (View life through the windscreen, not through the rearview mirror). That's probably good advice, if you can remember it.

We're not really in favour of people being in relationships (unless you're casting sheep's eyes at Jonny, in which case we say TALLY-HO GOOD WOMAN, GO FORTH AND REEL THIS HULKING YOUNG TOILET CONNOISSEUR IN), not only because single people make for incontestably better drinking partners, but because relationships distressingly often end in the production of offspring (our spirit animal is Mr Woodhouse in Jane Austen's Emma). That human children are surplus to requirement is painfully evident from the statistics showing that an estimated 5.5 million children worldwide are victims of human trafficking. Clearly people should hold off having children until we as a species have learned to value them for purposes other than sexual and economic slavery. (See also: Are women human?

A correspondent of ours shared this picture, and we couldn't agree more:

This tallies nicely with our motto PEOPLE SHOULD FUCK OFF MORE.

What we are ragingly, roaringly, sea-captain-in-a-hammock-guzzling-South-Seas-rum in favour of, though, is friendship. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Our Privy Counsel friends are the dog's bollocks.

 Festive Video: Miranda Lambert, We Should Be Friends
 Related Reading
All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend
All posts featuring Jonny
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