Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Whether You Want It Or Not: Super Summer Extravaganza!

It has been decreed by Privy Counsel headquarters that you deserve (the choice is yours whether to view this as benevolence or hostility) a super summer extravaganza blog post, and thus, whether you want it or not, and whether getting one is even in your best interests, you are getting a super summer extravaganza blog post! 

We have a lot of photos of toilets to get through, so we'd better get started before the leaves fall from the trees and the bears (those mythical creatures who, according to a popular idiom, crap in the woods) go to hibernate, the lucky fuckers, while the rest of us have to continue getting the bus to work in darkness while trying not to freeze our toes or other extremities off, spend the day under fluorescent lights engaged in meetings with people who can't form coherent sentences, then go home in the dark only to find that the cheese has gone mouldy and women STILL don't count as humans.

Let us keep the darkness, metaphorical as well as literal, at bay, however, by focusing on metaphorical (and, in the case of the northern latitudes, unremittingly literal at this time of year, actually) sunlight: We have a special treat for you today! Regular readers will remember with fondness and admiration past posts by Intellectual Friend. Well, hold on to your hats and make sure your toilet roll is turned the right way around - here is a new contribution from that worthy intellectual! From Greenland, no less!

I thought I would show you this private toilet, which I saw (and wincingly made use of) in a forlorn settlement called Oqaatsut, latitude 69 N, population 40 not counting a couple hundred sleddogs.

It is I believe the cosiest loo I have encountered so far in such a context (the context being the lack of running water, no sewage system (the skybound pipe behind the seat merely serving as a mildly efficient vent and stench suppressor) and the undiggability of the frozen ground).

Black plastic bag in the toilet bowl/barrel.
Suspicious yellow-tinted meltwater in the washbasin.

Helpful inscription on the wall above, "Uunga errorit", which can be interpreted as meaning "Wash here" (an injunction which I did not feel inclined to obey, especially as I had my hand sanitizer to hand), where -it is the imperative 2nd pers. sing. ending.
There was no toilet paper; but if there had been any, I'd assume by analogy with other lavatories in the country that the roll would be lying on a mouldy windowsill or on the actual and clammy floor at the very foot of the toilet. Note however the ingeniously placed wooden soapholder (what passed for soap in there looked however very unattractive) and also the purple hook and festive handknitted towel.

I should add that I failed to obtain prior permission to take this sneaky photo, partly because our host, a venerable lady and oldest dweller in said settlement, could only speak Greenlandic (and some thick dialect of it at that), so that technically it might be a case of rape and abuse of one's privacy and private property, such as it is, although I'm no expert.

But the brave old lady had cooked us lunch, bless her, and she sat and watched us eat it with great interest.
[Name omitted], the only fluent speaker of Greenlandic among us, mostly declined to engage in conversation with the host, leaving the hyggelig/lagom atmosphere to thicken up to its natural slightly awkward density.

It was a more or less planned stop we had on a little sailing trip which we took out of Ilulissat, a town to the north where we spent Easter. And here for the sake of variation are a few other pics from that Oqaatsut settlement and around: the [...] house of our host
[omitted due to privacy concerns], a bleak view of the village, the worthy old vessel in which we were sailed thereto, and an icefell or two.

We've seen a lot of primitive toilets in our day (for instance, this one or why not ponder this one or indeed this one), and Intellectual Friend's bog description does not scare us; being situated, as it is, in a context of rugged wilderness and base survival. Continuing the theme of rugged wilderness, but in a location which offers no excuse not to offer hygiene and comfort, let's have a look at the toilets at Tugg, a hipster burger place in Lund, Sweden, where we went one sunny day with Australian Friend.

You'd think that Lund, this eminent university town, would produce nothing but civilised functionality, but you'd be wrong. Our main critique of Tugg has heretofore centred on the fact that whoever designed this eatery decided to put metal chairs on a cement floor. Why people choose to make the surroundings in which people are supposed to eat actively unpleasant and potentially damaging to one's hearing is beyond us. Then we went to check out the loos and are subsequently also wondering why anyone would choose to make a toilet unnecessarily difficult to use, due to an inexplicable urge to pander to the 19th-century farmyard aesthetic. Let's show you what we mean.

Here is the toilet. Note the bare walls (nothing wrong with bare walls as such), the minimalist loo (again, nothing wrong with this for now), the weird and flimsy curtain stopping people outside from being able to look in, and the toilet rolls which, albeit plentiful, have worryingly been put into a rustic wooden box. It's not necessarily unhygienic but it's not exactly indicative of cleanliness either.

There are no paper towels; instead, brown (why brown? Why? Does anybody actually like the colour brown?) cloth towels have been placed in another rustic wooden box, this time placed reassuringly high up on the wall.

There are two bins; one for the brown (whyyyy?) towels, another for other waste. This is all fine.

 Now it's starting to get scary. The cistern for the toilet is an old-timey one on the wall, with a metal wire that needs to be pulled for flushing. Burlington is a Swedish brand with a nice-looking website that offers no information whatsoever about why one should use this type of cistern, whether it's in any way water-saving, or whether it's considered disability-friendly.

 The tap offers so many different types of horror that the breadth and width of the sum total of the horror is hard for the human intellect to comprehend. It's situated over a cattle-trough-like sink (why, in God's name, do hipsters keep insisting on sinks that look like they might be full of cow drool and half-chewed clumps of grass?) and is literally composed of a water-valve lever handle. It is very much not disability friendly, or indeed friendly to anyone who didn't grow up on a farm in the 19th century and has strong, calloused hands the size of dustbin lids, being very hard to turn. Also, the pipe offers only cold water. Not sure how this conforms to health and safety regulations, if at all. Note the toilet roll placed by the sink, on a wooden surface that is extremely likely to absorb water and breed bacteria, helpfully supplied by the hands touching the toilet roll.

In the manner of people who insist on serving you coffee in a glass, as if they are so far above material things that burn injuries are inconsequential (mugs have handles for a reason?), the architect behind this horror ensemble says, "I DON'T CARE ABOUT WHETHER YOU CAN WASH YOUR HANDS YOU DIRTY PEASANT ALSO STOP STARING AT ME AND GO CLEAN OUT THE OUTDOOR PRIVY NO I DON'T CARE THAT YOU ARE DYING FROM CHOLERA YOU SCURVY MALINGERER".

The door has an old-timey handle and no coat-hook.

The water pipe has a pressure gauge. Personally, we'd have preferred a sane and hygienic tap.

We're grateful that we were in such charming company, or bad things might have happened to our mental state. Swiftly moving on before anyone develops tuberculosis or gangrene of the soul, let's contemplate these interesting pictures from New York, described in Shewee Fiend Friend's characteristically terse staccato style.

Ok I'm in a weird speakeasy

They only have whiskey

And all vegan food

The bathrooms

Are beautiful


No paper towel or soap

Not sure how they're supposed to do that without soap
Our waiter left the bathroom before me
 I knocked the toilet paper over

Afterwards we went to burp Castle

There are paintings of drunk monks everywhere
The toilet was disappointing

The toilet per se may be disappointing, but we see much entertainment value in the graffiti, for instance the "PODCASTS???" scrawl (we don't see the point in them either - why listen to people breathing weirdly into a microphone when you can get the information much quicker by reading?). Also we enjoy, as ever, almost seeing people.

We asked whether Burp Castle was a typo, but learned that it wasn't:

Nope that's what it's called

It's a monastery esque place

You're not allowed to speak above a whisper
 We suggested that you then "can't get drunk as there would be a great risk of laughing raucously?", and the following pithy exchange took place:

Shewee Fiend Friend: I guess? Unless you are good at getting drunk quietly
Privy Counsel: You might as well just inject yourself with melatonin and go quietly to sleep

 Jonny has been no slouch this summer, sending us many excellent contributions with messages which, readers of this long and pontificating post will be delighted to know, are short to the point of abruptness.

The conversation for this one went as follows:

Privy Counsellor: So many things going on. Care to make any comment?

Jonny: Not at this time.

Privy Counsellor: You have the right to remain silent.

According to the diploma this urinal is located at the Flying Duck in Ilkley, and has been twinned with another toilet somewhere.

Continuing the Ilkley theme, Jonny writes:

Nice toilets

Someone wee'd on the seat which is infuriating

But nice nonetheless

Hamiltons Cafe just out of Ilkley

This reminds us of that time when Shewee Fiend Friend's flatmate "created small pools".

This sink, thankfully, does not resemble a cattle-trough, though the taps are that worrying breed of subjunctive mixer taps.

Semi-Intellectual Friend has also been in touch, offering this commentary on our ongoing Jonny Babe Parade:
Johnny looks shit hot. Shit hotter every time I see him on there in fact. I reckon he's one of those Paul Rudd types that just grows increasingly into their own good looks.

Yes, we naturally asked Semi-Intellectual Friend's permission to share these words, and got the following response:

If you ever want to share my compliments about Jonny on the blog (or any mutual friend (that I've just not met yet)), totally go for it. He's got Hollywood magnetism and the world needs to know about it.
Finally, in a triumph of 19th-century farmyard romanticism, we offer this picture of Jonny, dressed as a cowboy, in front of a sink shaped like a cattle-trough.

For today's Festive Video, let's have something that evokes the midnight sun and the hope of good plumbing, as well as offering a mild dose of 19th-century barnyard aestheticism (hopefully a mild dose may ensure a vaccinating effect, like cowpox).

Festive Video: Maxida Märak and Downhill Bluegrass Band, Nikesunnas Jojk

Related Reading

All posts featuring Intellectual Friend

On toilet roll orientation: Rocking, Rolling, Ranting 

A medieval lavvy seat: The City Museum in Winchester: Circling the Drain

Yet another medieval lavvy seat, the finding of which was reported in the Guardian, the link to which article was probably sent to us by Shewee Fiend Friend:
Helle's toilet: 12th-century three-person loo seat goes on display

All posts featuring sinks that look like cattle-troughs

All posts featuring Australian Friend

All posts featuring Sheewee Fiend Friend

All posts featuring Almost Seeing People

All posts featuring Jonny

On the difficulty, for some people, to aim: (Don't) Aim for the Stars 

A post in which we hold forth on the topic of subjunctive mixer taps: The Hirschsprung Museum, or, Revising the Status of Denmark, or, Feverish Paranoia

All posts featuring Semi-Intellectual Friend

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Things That Are Better Than Elvis

We don't know what your neck of the woods is like, but round our way there has been vigorous galloping in many directions, and enthusiastic cries of tally-ho! have been heard all over the realm. There has been frantic activity, not all of it related to escaping homicidal horror-clowns. Amid all the confusion, Shewee Fiend Friend accidentally agreed with us on two things, one of which was music-related. We know. It was a shock for everyone involved. Right now we're having a metaphorical sit-down in the shade, panting feebly and guzzling reassuring amounts of gin.

Shewee Fiend Friend went to a diner in North America recently, and sent us pictures with helpful and enlightening captions. The toilets in the diner in question were reassuringly sex-segregated, meaning that Shewee Fiend Friend felt safe throughout her visit. We've talked quite a lot about the horror of forcing women to share intimate spaces with people who a) are on average significantly larger and stronger physically, and b) commit 98 % of all acts of sexual violence. However, we'd still like to take this opportunity to recommend this excellent summary on why mixed-sex toilets are awful for women by Woman's Place UK, and also this one by Holly Lawford Smith.

Allez, en piste! Shewee Fiend Friend writes:

Inside it was pretty cool. Lots of 50s shit

Every table had a personal jukebox
I played Video killed the radio star Not Elvis
The bathrooms. Phenomenal

You enter this little vestibule from which you can enter one of two toilets

If you look closely, you'll see women's is marked doubly
I like that

 Same for men's
 And in case it wasn't clear, the doors go to the floor

Very pleasant and reasonably clean. Above right was a sturdy coat hook

The joy of almost seeing people is present in this photo!
 The comforting reminder that employees must wash hands
(I don't know why Americans have these signs everywhere. I find it disquieting that employees need to be reminded)

And finally, just in case it wasn't clear

Wasn't that wonderful? We feel somehow safe and clean, which is how we like to be if at all possible.

A friend who we might refer to, for the sake of convenience and also accuracy, as Nerdy Beer Obsessive Friend, sent us this festive photo from a place in Helsingborg, Sweden, that provides culture for the people.

Mmm, let's have some more of that almost seeing people joy! Hurrah!

Now for a Jonny Babe Parade photo. For reasons to which we are not privy, Jonny is going through a Peaky Blinders phase. The result is most pleasing. We don't know where this photo was taken, and we also don't care.

The thing about getting older is that one realises there are things that are better than Elvis. For instance, sex-segregated toilets. Also one realises that there are a fuckload of Elvis songs that other people did long before Elvis, and that are actually much better. Today's Festive Video is one example.

Festive Video: Big Mama Thornton, Hound Dog

Related Reading

An excellent summary of why mixed-sex toilets are awful for women, by Woman's Place UK:
Why Gender-Neutral Toilets Don't Work for Women 

Another excellent summary of the issue by Holly Lawford Smith:
Should Companies Install Gender Neutral Bathrooms?

Some previous Privy Counsel posts on the horror of mixed-sex toilets, which can be summarised with  the words a) NOBODY WANTS TO ELBOW THEIR WAY THROUGH A SEA OF BEARDED HIPSTERS TO GET TO THE SINK and also b) HARDEN THE FUCK UP AND GIVE THE WOMEN THEIR OWN FUCKING TOILET:

Divide [the Toilets] and Conquer [One of a Multitude of Aspects of Women's Subjugation to Male Violence]

"Let Them Eat Cake" - Could It Be Any More Obvious That a Man Designed These Toilets?
Stockholm Central Station: The Trauma Is So Great We Are Brought To Quoting Cicero

All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend

All posts featuring Jonny
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