Thursday, 31 December 2020

Dunnies Down Under, or, Everything You Do Is Futile, or, Self-Medicating with Car-Sickness Tablets Is Not Hip

Being bored to the point of taking actual car sickness tablets - in the hope of being knocked out for twelve to fifteen hours - by the retrospectives and accounts of "highlights" that plague media as the calendar year approaches its end, we're not going to indulge in anything resembling either a) nostalgia or b) hand-wringing over the horrors of 2020. Instead, in a feat of if not optimism then at least a cynical refusal to engage with all the fuckery because who can be arsed any more, we're going to focus on toilet pictures from Australia.

Australian Friend, you will be pleased to know, is currently enjoying the sunshine and functioning plumbing of her homeland, and is, as regular readers are aware, an enthusiastic crapper correspondent. Here, for your enjoyment, is a selection of her recent missives!

"The delightful public toilet building in this colonial park."  
 Does this delightful public toilet remind us of anything? You bet your hair shirt it does! How about the public toilets in Cubbon Park, Bangalore? (Read our balanced and objective review here.)

"I know you don't like videos but I forgot and made you a video of a toilet. It has many things I believe you may approve of. It's from a Victorian (c. 1850s) 'beauty spot' and there were peacocks." 

Indeed, there are so many things that we approve of in this video that we lose count and have to watch the video again. And again! And again! And again!

Normally, at this stage in a bog blog post, we'd be ranting about whatever snag in the fabric of the cosmos we happen to find a personal affront at the moment, frothing at the mouth and stridently yelling things like "FEMINISM NEEDS TO BE MORE MILITANT!" or "DANISH MIXER TAPS ARE NOT REAL MIXER TAPS!" into the void, halting only when the inevitable hangover causes us to focus all our energies on holding on to the toilet floor. However, today we somehow find ourselves lethargic, like an Australian at the beach, quaffing Foster's and ogling the lifeguard while idly flicking their totally rad flipflops back and forth to the soothing rhythm of the sea. (Car sickness tablets are surprisingly effective.) Maybe the sum total of things that one feels the need to rant about reached a critical mass and sucked all of the ranting into a black hole in which the infuriated expressions of pent-up peevishness will disintegrate into spaghetti-like strings of discontent? We can't prove that this didn't happen and anyway, as we apparently wrote in 2016,


Remember that ultimately, everything you do is futile. The universe is a vast and terrifying void, containing one tiny speck of dust to which we are clinging, and ultimately destroying. We are, essentially, short-sighted monkeys with computers. Now relax, and stop giving a fuck. Have a drink, maybe.

 

As regular readers are aware we are not fans of children at the Privy Counsel, and we especially abhor pictures of children. However, here is a picture a friend of ours sent us of their child, of which we approve with enthusiasm bordering on militancy. Maybe this is what we should all be doing? Having a bath, in solitude, and forgetting all the rampant fuckwittage happening outside? Happy sodding new year. Have a bath. Have a drink, maybe.


 

We would encourage everyone to adopt the message in this Festive Video as their New Year's resolution.

Festive Video: Chopper Reed, Harden the Fuck Up

Happy new year. Harden the fuck up.


Related Reading

We simply cannot recommend our friend Maureen Helen's post on so-called gender-neutral toilets enough: Does dislike of all-gender toilets make me a bigot? 

(The answer, according to legislation being rolled out in Australia very soon, is a totalitarian YES.)

All posts featuring Australian Friend

All posts featuring Australia 

All posts featuring New Year's Eve 

Our review of the public toilets in Cubbon Park, Bangalore: A Passage To India: More Indian Toilets

We are remembering with fondness, today, that time when Australian Friend assured us we could finally stop worrying about monosodium glutamate 

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Ten-Year Jubilee Extravaganza: A Decade of Enlightenment!

 Time, allegedly, flies. We're not personally convinced that this is the correct verb to attach to the fourth dimension of the universe, but we really, really, really don't have the energy to argue with anyone over anything. (It seems, for instance, that we have entered an uneasy peace with Shewee Fiend Friend on the subject of toilet roll orientation.) Whatever means of transport you choose to ascribe to time, however, it is an inescapable fact that this bog blog has been a vehicle for ranting on the internet for ten years. Readers who are perhaps not as regular as they would like might appreciate an explanation of how this came about.

Once upon a time, in a pub far, far away (Micklegate, in York, arguably counts as pretty far away for most people), we were ranting. Memory is a fickle mistress and Yorkshire ale is a potent brew, and thus details are hazy, but we’re reasonably certain that we were gesticulating, possibly even raising our voice to a far from genteel pitch. What were we ranting about? you wonder. World poverty? Slave labour in sweatshops? The utter, unforgivable shitness of the Eurovision Song Contest? No. We were ranting about British plumbing.

 

Scandinavia has many advantages. The twentieth century played the part of fairy godmother to this portion of the world, blessing it with democracy, universal healthcare, and excellent sanitation. As a result, its inhabitants are prone to exhibiting exorbitant, overwhelming smugness. Send an unsuspecting Scandi out in the world and they are susceptible to criticise other nations’ sanitary arrangements in an insufferably rude manner. Not because they wish to insult, you understand, but because they are flabbergasted. When it is demonstrably possible to construct toilets and pipes that work well, a Dane, Norwegian or Swede might reason, why on earth would you deliberately choose to make a cackhanded job of your bogs? Said Scandiwegians are perhaps particularly prone to ask this far-from-rhetorical question when in the British Isles, which, though rich in culture and steeped in history of the most exciting kind, are deplorably lacking in logical plumbing. Friendship with such a Dane, Norwegian, or Swede can often be challenging to a native of the misty isles in the West. Whatever laudable qualities such persons may possess, they are prone to being overshadowed by the Scandiwegian propensity to rant about mixer-taps. It is not what your average Brit appreciates, when in the pub, trying to maintain an enjoyable conversation. Such a Brit, who is likely to be a cultured, refined and well-travelled person, is not to be blamed for exclaiming, in an exasperated manner, for the love of God, why don’t you start a blog? (For this was the year of our Lord 2010, and blogs were still a thing.)

 

Our exasperated friend, whom we have referred to ever since as Enlightened Friend, uttered this impassioned plea not due to his belief in our writing skills or ability to turn an interesting tale, but due to his intense irritation with our constant complaints about British plumbing. Enlightened Friend’s hope was that, in writing down our criticisms of British taps on the internet and perhaps striking up friendships with other weirdoes there, we would cease to complain about them to him, and he would in future be able to drink his pint in peace. Being easily influenced, we happily took Enlightened Friend at his word, and started a toilet blog (or, as it soon became known, the intellectual bog blog). Indeed, so excited were we by the prospect of pontificating to, if not the world at large, then at least a certain small portion of our acquaintance, that we wrote three posts on the same day. The very first one, published on 18 October 2010, said, simply and perhaps ominously,

 

Most British people see no need for mixer taps, as when they do exist, they don't work anyway.  The rest of the world disagrees.  The controversy continues.

 

This was followed by some reflections on toilet paper, and our first review – of the toilets in the Yorkshire Museum. There was also the legendary review of the disabled toilet at the Centre for Medieval Studies in York, which gave us much solace during the year we spent drinking with weird medievalists and perhaps doing the odd stint of studying. For a long time we stuck to a bewildering and illogical points system for reviews, which was satirized to great effect by Semi-Intellectual Friend when he devised a toilet duck-based scoring system.

 As we have often had occasion to mention, we are grateful for all the friends (including Jonny, who counts as a friend for administrative reasons) and family who send us interesting toilet pictures from around the world. Due to our hectic lifestyle, commitment to watching Toby Stephens wearing pirate trousers, and unreasonably lengthy hangovers, these pictures tend to not be put to profitable use by means of toilet blogging, but congregate in weird corners of the internet, tucked away in a multitude of apps and accounts, where they languish due to lack of light. (We have, for years, envisaged our archive as a dark crypt peopled by ghosts, dead nuns, and pheasants, such as described in the 1796 horror classic The Monk. You may read increasingly incoherent references to said archive here, here, here, here, and here.) Our Mum reminded us recently of some photos she sent us two years ago, which we thought we'd publish in this, our ten-year-anniversay bog blog post. We've also got pictures from other favourite contributors, such as Our Favourite Aunt, Intellectual Friend, and, last but definitely not least, Jonny. The fact that we thusly have pictures from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK is no doubt a coincidence.

We decided, in a moment of unrestrained nostalgia, to return to the points system. It took a while before we could even find it, but it turns out we'd preserved it and we have inserted it at the bottom of this post for the benefit of scientifically-minded readers. Below is a picture sent to us by Our Mum from the Martini restaurant in Kristianstad, Sweden. According to what you might call, for convenience, the logic of our points system, these facilities get 9 points. We couldn't tell from the photo whether the soap was pleasantly scented or whether there was a coat-hook sturdy enough for  a rucksack, so we had to restrain ourselves somewhat in our scoring. Nonetheless, it looks like an excellent, comfortable and laudably hygienic toilet.

Martini, in Kristianstad: 9 points

Next up is an amusing photo, also from Our Mum, of a helpful sign at the airport in Bergen, Norway.

We hope, for the sake of humanity, that these are not unisex toilets. We have mentioned, on occasion, how much we loathe unisex toilets.

 

Our Favourite Aunt is a faithful correspondent and sent us, in 2016, the following photos from the porcelain museum in Gustavsberg, Sweden.

An exciting glimpse of hygienic porcelain from times past

We are nearly always reminded of something, and this obviously reminds us of the historical toilets exhibition at the Castle Museum, in York!

This is a toilet quote by August Strindberg. Not being fans of Strindberg, we're not going to bother translating it. Nonetheless, we appreciate Our Favourite Aunt's contribution.

We mentioned earlier our conception of our toilet photo archive as a dark, dripping crypt. Perhaps in the light of that metaphor, these pictures, from Intellectual Friend, are rather apt. They depict the gents' toilets at the Peder Oxe tavern in Copenhagen, where we seem to remember brandishing a flagon of ale with Intellectual Friend in 2017. Are the toilets in the cellar? We can't remember, but it looks as though they are rich in old stone and some eccentricity - both things that we love.

Danes are depressingly apt to install what we call the subjunctive mixer tap, but here it seems they have actually hardened the fuck up and got it right.

We're fairly sure that we have, at one or more points during the past ten years, expressed an opinion about urinals. Potentially we approve.

Intellectual Friend referred to this as a "tapestried toilet pic". It is perhaps fitting in light of our history of drinking in medieval milieus.

Ahh. Nothing warms the cockles like correctly hung toilet paper!

We're reaching the end of this blast from the past. How about some hyper-modernity, for the sake of contrast? Here's a photo of Jonny, in 2020, adhering to corona regulations.


Our spontaneous reaction to this photo was:

Plus points for the clear, helpful and polite signage, not sure about the mask. On the one hand the Counsel is all in favour of hygiene and adequate protection, on the other hand it doesn't like restrictions on perving. We shall leave it to the fans to decide!

Jonny argued that the mask is in contrast to his top, calling the look "street thug's soft side". Ever striving for fairness, we promised to take his argument under consideration.

Reader, it is time for a Festive Video. What's more suitable than this favourite, which has given us intellectual solace on many an occasion! (Blogger have changed their layout and we have no idea how to intelligently insert videos any more, so to be on the safe side here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv-Pi3RKY68)



 Festive Video: Public Information Film - UK Separate Taps


Related Reading

All posts featuring Sheewee Fiend Friend

All posts featuring Enlightened Friend

Our very first blog post: Mixer Taps - the Controversy

Our first review, of the toilets in the Yorkshire Museum: The Yorkshire Museum

The legendary post in which Semi-Intellectual Friend launched his alternative scoring system: Rampant Titillation - Basically, a Real-Life Epistolary Novel!

A reminiscent blog post, from a time when we still had hangovers that ended: In Which the Privy Counsel Goes Ballistic

The commemorative post we wrote after five years of toilet-blogging, which seemed coherent and reasonable at the time: Five Fabulous (and Frightening) Years: The Story of the Privy Counsel

We're far from lacking in horrors at the moment, but somehow we never got around to writing a Halloween blog post this year. However, here is our very first Halloween post: Oh! the horror! SCREAMING BLOODY HORROR HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: The British Workplace

All posts featuring Halloween 

THE POINTS SYSTEM

We gave up all belief in the logic of our points system long ago. But sometimes we use it just for kicks, and when we do, the points awarded are as follows:

* Covered loo roll holder: +1
* Loo roll lying loose: -1
* Normal white loo roll: +1
* Unbleached: +2
* Quilted or coloured: -1

* Bin in stall covered: +1
*Bin not pushing unpleasantly against user: +2

* Easy-to-use flush, not requiring great mechanical strength: +1
* Water-saving: +2
* Hard to use: -1

* Toilets clean: +1
* Toilets dirty: -1

* Revolving towel: +1
* Air dryer: -1
* Hygienic air dryer: +1
* Normal towel (unless clean and displaying evidence of being frequently changed): -1

* Push lever or other easy-to-use tap: +1
* Photo-cell tap: +2
* Lack of hot water: -1
* Unpleasant, separated taps: -1

*Pleasant soap: +1
* Also handlotion: +2
* No soap: -1

*Coat hook: +1
* Coat hook sturdy enough for rucksack or other large bag: +2
* No coat hook: -1

* Possibility of opening door without touching handle on exit: +1 bonus point.

* Toilets with noise-insulating cubicles (or no cubicle): +1 bonus point. 

Monday, 5 October 2020

Silver Linings, Golden Nuggets

 Look, we're not saying that pictures of Jonny have the power to cure all social ills, or even our own increasingly importunate existential angst. They do, however, give our days that certain je ne sais quoi - call it succour, call it a balm for the soul, call it thirty seconds of semi-ironical perving to distract one from the fanatical horror clowns banging pot lids behind one's prefrontal cortex. Whatever you want to label them as, pictures of Jonny are in abundance right now, our favourite young whipper-snapper having hit a creative seam that yields nugget after nugget of pure gold. (At least the gold metaphor works well, we think, if you're into toilet selfies of Jonny - some people, puzzlingly, appear not to be.)

Before we immerse ourselves in the symphonic poetry that is lots of lovely photos of Jonny in a toilet however, let's have some context. Some readers may not be as regular as others, and may not remember who, what, or why Jonny is. Let us make the preamble brief, however, so as not to frustrate those readers who are admirably regular, and are gagging for what we might term Jonny gold:

 Jonny is a young man from the North of England who we count as a friend for administrative reasons. He enjoys cycling, and public toilets. Some years ago we composed a lonely hearts ad for Jonny's benefit, which turned out to be a roaring success. Recently, Jonny and the queen of his heart - who, it appears, followed our advice and threw herself at this man - went on a romantic weekend together.

Jonny wrote to us, in his usual forthright style:

COVID ruined my weekend away.

But we booked a Premiere Inn in the Lakes. We got a disabled room as it was the only one left. Plenty of room in the bathroom to take pics.
Every cloud.

 
Jonny using adequate protection.

We could not agree more.

This looks like stupendously good cake.

Again, we could not agree more.
 
Some days later, having feasted on cake and other delights until he presumably couldn't take it any more, Jonny wrote again:

I'm wearing the same t-shirt but I travelled in it.
So many grab handles
It's huge in here
 
The oh! so ironical bottle of Corona adds, we're sure you agree, a pungent note of political realism.

Finally, Jonny ventured into what we might presume to call the tempestuous waters of political allegory, saying:

Found the worst toilet ever
Who on earth would want to sit in that corner seat facing the urinals?
No cubicles
STANK so bad.
 
One's heart, indeed, sinks at the sight of this sad state of things...

...but soars with delight at the vision of this Albion Apollo.

Our - for want of a better adjective - clear-sighted eagle eye spotted immediately that the hand-washing apparatus is the exact same kind as that in Morrison's in York, at least as it looked in 2011. We also remarked that the seat might in fact be a shelf, on which one might perhaps place a rucksack (or, depending on what one happens to be carrying at the point of needing to use this toilet, a large sack of potatoes, or a treasure chest overflowing with glittering, non-metaphorical gold). Jonny replied:

Oh, it could be for your bag. That's less weird.
BUT
1) I wouldn't put my bag on it either. 2) I wouldn't need to take my bag off to pee.
The handwashing apparatus was also broken.
 
We here ventured to suggest that this toilet might, in fact, be a representation of Britain today, at which Jonny retorted, as he is so often wont to do, "Are you putting words in my mouth?" Yes. Yes, we are. These are our words:
 
Everything is broken, dirty, and horrible, but at least there's Jonny.
 
According to tradition, there should now be a Festive Video. Since, as our long-suffering friends will attest, our favourite method of perving on Toby Stephens at the moment is enjoying the sight of pirates in tight trousers scheming against a) each other, b) the weather, and c) women wielding political power, let's have this enjoyable scene from Black Sails.
 
 
Festive Video: "Black Sails | The Best of Black Sails: Vane’s Warning in Charles Town | STARZ" 
 

Related Reading

Jonny and a Public Toilet - A Treat for Single Ladies

May we take this opportunity, while we have your ear, to remind you that there is a right way and a wrong way to hang toilet roll

Morrisons York: Aw, for f...

If you like toilets used as political metaphor, you may also enjoy Athens: Vacillating with Vespasian 

Another age-old method of perving on Toby Stephens is enjoying Jane Eyre

 While we're at it, we might as well take the opportunity of scoffing at people who haven't read Jane Eyre

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Out of Season

"Blogging," as Cicero quite possibly said, "is a heartless business". "Not only," that mighty Roman might, not unreasonably, have continued, "is it incredibly time-consuming and financially unrewarding, it also drives one potty trying to keep track of all the toilet photos that people have sent one via various apps". "Also," might the mighty statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher have soliloquised over a quiet glass of quite possibly lead-enriched wine, "finding the balance between ranting and subtle toilet humour is a delicate business and one is quite likely to fall off the ledge into the murky waters of full-on unhinged crazy talk". Though not versed, whether well or in any other manner, in the classics ourselves, many of our friends are, and we are inclined to revere the words of the worthy Roman wordsmiths. "Nonetheless," as Virgil definitely never said, "sometimes a gentle bout of blogging relieves the mind and eases the disquiet in one's soul".

Let us, since we must fill this post with some kind of content other than made-up Roman philosophising, have a look at some photos that Shewee Fiend Friend sent us last year. Unfortunately the information about where these photos were taken and what the context was has been lost. Quite possibly it has been sucked into the space-time continuum and is currently disturbing the dreams of a bemused many-headed creature called Zorb, resident of a sulphurous planet in the Andromeda galaxy.


This is quite possibly the public toilet in a small Canadian town that closes for the season in October, and doesn't open again till spring. This seems to us a very sensible approach to winter, and we wish it were applied everywhere. If there were a public referendum, we would definitely vote in favour of enforced hibernation.

This seems to us to be a highly inoffensive toilet. Plus points for the disability-friendly bars.

Here is a picture of - possibly entirely unrelated - bison, and a wind-power generator. Could it be a metaphor of some kind?

We're reasonably sure that this is still the same Canadian public toilet. We approve of the hook and the door handle, and note that although there is an infuriating trend in Scandiwegia to dispense with the hook in favour of a shelf on which one's stuff won't fit, the people of Canada have managed to install a dual system which one can only applaud.

Here's a picture of Jonny. He says:
"Happy New Year x
For all the fanz"
Since we haven't blogged in nigh-on a year, have a bonus Jonny,  from the Belfry Hotel!

"Look at that wet floor sign," says Jonny. Indeed!

It has been noted by more than one person that we at the Privy Counsel have shit taste in music considering our level of education and, it has been implied, degree of intelligence. We brush off these slurs with a haughty sneer and continue embracing eccentric country music. Let's have, today, a nice song by Gretchen Peters - whom we would totally have gone to see live last year if we hadn't been suffering from a debilitating hangover which enforced on us, in a manner of speaking, a lenghty hibernation.



Festive Video - Gretchen Peters, Say Grace
 
Related Reading
If you feel like you need a dose of wit, intelligence and joy, enjoy this fantastic video of Benjamin Boyce interviewing Helen Joyce:
Gender, Journalism, & Justice | with Helen Joyce

Other things that may cause joy:
All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend 
All posts featuring Jonny

Other Canadian toilets may be viewed in the post The Girl Bartenders Hate
and also Springing a Leak
All posts featuring Canada

Also, on rereading our last post, from June last year, we find it a rollicking and strangely literate read. Have a bash yourself if you're feeling nostalgic:  
Whether You Want It Or Not: Super Summer Extravaganza!
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