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Noo loo

Behold, our new upstairs toilet. The old one always had a crack in the cistern and finally started to leak last weekend.

It’s a heartbreak to spend that kind of money for a pot to piss in, so let me at least get a goddamned post out of it.

British toilets were my first hint that being a foreigner might be harder than expected. I have difficulty flushing the ones with levers. They look like the familiar American toilet handle, but turning them does nothing. You have to put a little…hell, I don’t know. A little oomph on them.

Maybe it’s because English toilets have the handle on the right and I had a lifetime experience flushing handles to the left.

I don’t know. I looked in the tank once — instead of the good old Yankee doodle float-and-flapper, there’s all this spooky alien tech back there. Weird shit. Not messing with it.

The worst was the toilet in London. I was completely that toilet’s bitch. Every time I turned the handle, it gave a little growly noise, swirled stuff around in a bored, perfunctory way and…nothing. I never got it on the first try, and after the third or fourth try, I’d have to wait for the tank to fill up again.

A bathroom break could take me twenty minutes. Uncle B must’ve thought I had some kind of unspeakable problem down there. It was a while before I explained.

Because, let me tell you, the thing when you’re in a new relationship and trying to look all desirable and attractive and stuff: you really, REALLY don’t want to ask the new boyfriend in to check out your bidness and help you flush it.

Luckily for me, the new one’s foolproof — it’s pushbutton! And like a lot of toilets here, it’s a two-stager. The big button is a little flush, the little button is a big flush.

Get me! Flushing like a big girl!

Oh! And then there was the time we went to Arundel and the toilet at the train station was a proper old-fashioned water closet, with the elevated cistern and the pull chain and everything. I was so excited. It was the highlight of my trip.

Have a good weekend, everyone!


Comment from Pupster
Time: February 11, 2011, 10:54 pm

Pushmatic terlits?

Well, I swan.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: February 11, 2011, 11:44 pm

You mean they have Gorelets over there as well? OMG!!!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2011, 12:04 am

And how! Though the plumber told us if he could jigger it to give us a bit more water. We like our plumber. Plumbers. They travel in pairs here.

See that piece of wood on the far left? That may be the oldest beam in the house. The beam guy told is it might be a thousand years old.

THAT’s something to think about on the toilet.

Comment from BuckNutty
Time: February 12, 2011, 12:15 am

It seems to have an apparatus coming out the back that looks like a dryer vent. I sure hope it doesn’t function like one. You know, shooting the stuff out that wall and all that… Fascinating…

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: February 12, 2011, 12:29 am

Stoatie – We had the old-fashioned kind in our place in Suffolk. I don’t know when it was installed (I expect the 30s or 40s), but it was right by the back door. The bog was still in the back garden where it met up with the farmer’s field.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2011, 12:44 am

This placed wasn’t plumbed (or electrified, I think) until after WWII. I think the latrine for this house is now part of the land of the house next door (neighbor told me she finds all kinds of colorful broken pottery at a particular spot by the ditch back there).

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: February 12, 2011, 12:45 am

LOL Stoatie… I’m thinking something along the lines of South Park’s Mr Hankey meets Stephen King’s THE MANGLER…..


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2011, 12:46 am

This is neat. They’ve found an old wrecked whaling vessel. The article says that’s a rare shipwreck to find, as they were always in deep water.

And — get this! — this ship was the second ship for a captain whose first shipwreck inspired Moby Dick.

Comment from Allen
Time: February 12, 2011, 12:54 am

The bit of plumbing out the back should be the sewer vent. Wait a minute, am I really going on about Crapper’s Mechanics? Why, yes I am. This is a really strange site with really strange commenters.


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: February 12, 2011, 1:15 am

Welcome, Allen… 🙂

You should fit RIGHT IN! LOL

Comment from me
Time: February 12, 2011, 2:01 am

That is a rear outlet toilet. Unusual in the US. Except wall hung types in public/commercial use.

I like the sink in the background…

Comment from Sven in Colorado
Time: February 12, 2011, 2:12 am

It stood fifty paces from the back door of the cabin. A south-facing two seater, stone lined pit, rough sawn lean-to with two doors Hiz’n’Herz”… downstream of the spring house and well off the watershed to the creek. There was the bucket of lime and the old Sears-Roebuck catalog fer what needs be.

Allen’s comments reminded me. There was one “modern” amenity. A rough, square vent of pine lumber poked its way skyward from the nether regions in the pit to draw the… interesting smells upward and out into the mountain air.

Those early summer years were my first experience with “primitive” pit toilets.

Later…in the marketplaces in Guatemala, I had other, more fragrant, foul and septic experiences with public Loos.


Trust me…Ya’ don’t wanna know!.

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: February 12, 2011, 3:21 am

Never been to Guatemala, but we landed at a little airport in Mexico once — I mean, yeah, an AIRPORT and we got there in a Lear — and went to use the facilities.

“You didn’t wash your hands,” one of the other guys noted.

My reply: “There’s nothing in there that’s cleaner than my d*.”


Comment from Nina
Time: February 12, 2011, 3:28 am

I think you ought to be dang happy to even HAVE a toilet in that 400 year old house, Stoaty. You could still be usin’ the privy (or privies, as a house that old has either had a succession of them or they hired someone to come empty it out) in the back garden.

I excavated a couple of 19th century privies years ago. The one behind the whorehouse was particularly interesting. I also saw an actual two story privy when I was in Norway last summer, which totally took the wind out of the sails of one of my favorite insults.

Comment from Richard
Time: February 12, 2011, 4:27 am

British toilets tend to work on a syphon system, which can’t leak whatever the condition of any seals, as it needs a certain volume to set the syphon in motion (onto your motion, as it were). This is why it takes some effort – you need to shift enough water to fill the rising pipe in one pull, so that water falling down the other side draws more water through.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: February 12, 2011, 4:43 am

Being a good American girl (tho born and growed over there) I ALWAYS use the big flush button because euro toilet paper is teh suck and requires copious amounts for my girl bits, requiring the big flush.

/I thought that might be TMI for y’all…..but then I recalled a thread that devolved into waxing girl bits

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 12, 2011, 6:19 am

There’s lots of places here in Costa Rica (albeit dwindling in number) that aren’t on mains sewerage so you can’t flush toilet paper. I made it it a condition of my living somewhere that it not be one of those places. Septic tanks are nasty. You shouldn’t have septic things attached to your house. Fun fact: something like 60% of the dry weight of crap is E. coli bacteria. Wash your hands, people!

Siphonic cisterns are generally more efficient than simple dump valve versions. What I would like to know is where you could get a vacuum-powered version like on aircraft. The next-best thing are the pressurised flush systems you get in shopping malls and office buildings. If regularly despatching more than a kilo, they’re the only way to go.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2011, 1:34 pm

If you regularly despatch more than a kilo, I don’t want to know anything more about Costa Rican cuisine.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2011, 1:37 pm

Or how you rid yourself of unwanted lovers.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: February 12, 2011, 5:18 pm

Can’t remember where it was now, some attraction (Kew Gardens? London Zoo?) but the toilets had a motion-detector operation. You WAVED at them to flush them!

Very cool 🙂

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 12, 2011, 5:34 pm

When I were a wee badger cub there was a scout hit near where I lived that had a genuine Thomas Crapper set-up.

Endless mirth, of course.

Comment from some vegetable
Time: February 12, 2011, 5:38 pm

Do I yet any credit for not making the obligatory “playing fields of Eaton /Water-loo ” joke?

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 12, 2011, 5:52 pm

JuliaM–Those motion-activated toilets (and sink faucets, and paper towel dispensers, and hot-air hand-dryers) are fairly standard in newly installed restrooms in crowded public places in America. They are arguably more hygienic (thank you, David Gillies, for your interesting statistic!), but I believe the impetus for their installation may have more to do with accommodation of the disabled than with hygiene.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2011, 6:08 pm

My last job, the toilets were motion-sensored. And bad. They tended to flush just as you stood up or sat down, showering your nethers with microfine droplets of ick.

And then there was the day the power went. No power, no flush.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: February 12, 2011, 8:15 pm

The big question, of course, is how your effete Limey terlet can handle an M-80.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: February 12, 2011, 9:20 pm

For Steve:
Only one way to find out, I suppose…

Comment from Deborah
Time: February 12, 2011, 9:34 pm

Very handsome, Stoaty, and a nicely composed photo, too—to have brand new technology installed along side the very ancient beam.

As long as we are telling stories: At a charming little bothy in Scotland, I ran my bathtub full of water then yelped because the water was golden colored—it looked like urine in water, ya know. Peaty water, my son explained, who’d been in Scotland for a year or so.

I always flushed twice, thinking the golden water meant the first flushing hadn’t worked. The overly-tall porcelain thrones left me discombobulated too. I felt like a child, with my feet dangling.

But the hardest part was drinking the water. I just couldn’t, unless it was brewed with something. And I drank a lot of alcohol on that trip, too.

Comment from Sven in Colorado
Time: February 12, 2011, 9:44 pm


The M-80 comment tripped the trigger on a whole “arsenal” of “memories”. Including, but not limited to, outhouses, sewage vent stacks on school buildings, mailboxes, exhaust stacks on school buses, large brown grocery sacks loaded with fecal material from canines, bovines or other ungulates…and the use of the Pall Mall or Camel straight cigarette as a time delay fuse apparatus.

There are also tangential stories of calves fed laxatives and turned loose in the halls of high schools and five pound sacks of Russet ‘taters distributed in random, non-linear patterns into the exhausts of school buses at the local, unified school district motor pool.

If asked anything more, I will invoke my 5th amendment right and obfuscate with plausible deniability any knowledge of, or participation in such activities.

Besides… the alleged events might have taken place over 45 years ago….”in a galaxy far, far away.”

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 12, 2011, 10:04 pm

Speaking of pranks that may or may not have occurred and about which I absolutely know nothing, did you know that you can get a cow to climp UP stairs, say to the second story of a building, but that she absolutely, positively will NOT climb down them?

On a different note, ever watch anybody try it get a cow out of the second story of a building without using the stairs?….. 🙂

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: February 12, 2011, 10:19 pm

One hamburger at a time, Some Vegetable. That’s how I’d do it.

The trouble with sewers is that CHUDs and mutant alligators and whatnot climb out of them. Fortunately I have the last septic field in my neighborhood. I’m safe!

Comment from Mono The Elder
Time: February 12, 2011, 10:53 pm

Ugh. I hate the porcelain beasts. I’ve to replace mine about 5 times in the last year and a half. Nevermind the weird clayish gunk coming up the pipe….

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 12, 2011, 10:57 pm

Mono, I just have to ask – why?!

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: February 12, 2011, 11:13 pm

UB – with a lead like that, you probably do not REALLY want to know…

Comment from j2
Time: February 13, 2011, 3:32 am

i’ll read a book
ponder this dilemma
strain to understand this situation….
until we flush out a decent plan… my recommendation is:
have a great weekend!

Comment from scubafreak
Time: February 13, 2011, 7:55 am

Not so fast, BCR. You forgot Flukeman……


Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: February 13, 2011, 3:33 pm

Some Veg, a carrot or parsnip maybe? asked rhetorically like:

did you know that you can get a cow to climp UP stairs, say to the second story of a building, but that she absolutely, positively will NOT climb down them?

Well, there is a trick to it, you know.

You push ’em down backwards. That is, tail first. Just stick your shoulder behind the jaw under an ear, wrap your arm around under the neck and grab the other ear, and push…gently, mind you, but firmly.

Works over cattle guards too, which is where I learned it.

Comment from some vegetable
Time: February 13, 2011, 4:16 pm

Thank you EW; I have a feeling that one of my neighbors will shortly pay dearly to learn that bit of knowledge : -0.

By the way, am I the only one that thought “Sir Harry Paget Flashman” when he read ‘Flukeman’? He was more or less a role model for me: -)

Comment from Ugly Animals
Time: February 13, 2011, 5:36 pm

I guess everyone deserves the chance of actually been upgraded to new technology, even if its bathroom wise 😀 Nice change :p

Comment from Nina
Time: February 13, 2011, 5:52 pm

EW knows so many arcane but not entirely useless things. 🙂

Comment from Cute Animals
Time: February 13, 2011, 6:09 pm

I would have to agree with you Nina

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: February 13, 2011, 7:29 pm

The technique (getting a cow to back up) is also useful when getting them out of a trailer.

Just watch out for the others. You know how cats can go through holes that look ‘way too small? A cow can turn around in a space it looks like she can’t stand in.


Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: February 13, 2011, 7:39 pm

And I am pretty sure that they bend time and space to do it, since that turning around in less space than they can stand in also happens BEFORE you know it has begun.

Which brings me to a caveat: Practice pushing cows over a cattle guard before you try stairs. The bill from your orthopaedist will be smaller that way.

Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: February 13, 2011, 8:12 pm

Some Vegetable, who has risen from soup stock to entree of its own merits, says:

Thank you EW; I have a feeling that one of my neighbors will shortly pay dearly to learn that bit of knowledge : -0.

I do so dearly hope that there will be video involved?

/Some threads just don’t cut it without pictures, but a few really need video to put them over the top!! 😉

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: February 13, 2011, 11:38 pm

But EW1:
Her Stoatfulness does not appear to support file attachment to one’s posts.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: February 13, 2011, 11:40 pm

And pushing cows down the stairs has the potential to be messy as well as disastrous for the poor cow if it steps incorrectly on the way down. Messy comes from the potential cow pies deposited enroute.

Comment from Mono The Elder
Time: February 14, 2011, 12:42 am

U.B., what the replacing or the clay? the replacing is due the gunk, the gunk is due to the shitty rural plumbing….

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: February 14, 2011, 2:34 am

Actually, EW1, you should practice cow-pushing on a flat, unobstructed surface before trying anything more complex. Preferably one with few obstructions nearby, to make running away easier, and a spotter standing by with the ambulance service on speed dial.

I have a cow who has, before reputable witnesses (i.e., not me), jumped a seven-foot iron-pipe fence from a flat-footed start. One of her offspring, a bull, once managed eight feet, though admittedly he had a running start at it. Never assume that a cow is confined if its heart is still beating.


Comment from Mcgyver
Time: February 14, 2011, 5:16 am

When Giggles and I went on our Honeymoon (10 days, 11 Countries, 1 Motorcycle), we came back thru Nice, France. I needed to use the facilities and lo and behold they had this new-fangled, guaranteed to be hygenic crapper installed at the tourist kiosk. The newly-wed Mrs. Mcgyver said, “Oh, Honey, this is great, they had them in Paris!” “You go in, do your business and flush and the whole place is automatically, rinsed and made spanky clean.”

So, I puts the money in, enter the auto-loo and the door slams shut behind me and locks. Now, there’s a lot of difference between theory and reality. As I stood there,in awe, looking at the inside of a plastic box whose walls, ceiling and floor were covered in toilet paper, bits of e-coli, other things best left undescribed, and it was all wet, and reeking of disinfectant (which didn’t make me feel any better), all I wanted was OUT!. Unfortunately, it WON”T let you out until you use the facilities. I gently used my bandana to “flush”, which unclicked the door, and flew out of there, hoping to avoid the rinse cycle.

My blushing bride was doubled over with laughter and was falling off the bike,where she had been lounging, waiting to see how I handled the prediciment.

I don’t have that bandana anymore. Mcgyver, Out

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: February 14, 2011, 5:18 pm

On a more sporting note, for our British friends:

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: February 14, 2011, 6:49 pm

Mcgyver, I used one of those toilets in Oslo last year, only it was clean inside. The big problem with it is that when you’re waiting for it to go through its rinse cycle, and your bladder’s screaming, it takes forever.

This one was in a park not far from my son’s flat, and it was free.

Comment from Oh Hell
Time: February 15, 2011, 12:15 am

Some interesting out house memories…We had a TWO HOLER!!! (Were we classy or what?)
And, years later, when we actually had indoor plumbing, the septic tank froze and we didn’t know where dear deceased Dad had buried the (damn) thing, so we used a bucket for the rest of the winter. Foolproof way to cut short visits from people you don’t like much….

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 15, 2011, 12:33 am

Yeah, we had a two-holer on that first farm. We didn’t use it, it was there. Perched over the main stream everyone used for water. Brrrr.

The next farm, we had a proper flush toilet, but no water in Summer. We had to haul it up from the stream. Five gallons at a time.

Eh. We flushed on Thursdays.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 15, 2011, 5:01 am

Wheee. Off to Golfito for a sojourn soon. Might post some Flickr links if Lady Weasel is cool.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 15, 2011, 12:59 pm

Oh, sure. I wish you could post images directly, but I can’t work out how to allow that with the WordPress software.

Comment from Dave
Time: February 18, 2011, 6:06 pm

I always tell our American visitors that if they want a result they have to ‘flush with authority’. Still always takes three tries.

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