Saturday, 26 February 2011

The toilet: a comparative study

Kenya, near Mithini, 70km from Nairobi

I really don’t want my epitaph to read ‘He died as he lived. Full of shit’.  I was thinking this as I squatted over the latrine hole, hanging on for dear life to the walls of the tin shack that serves as the communal toilet.  It’s not the stench that bothers me, nor is it the flies, nor is it the general idea, it’s the sheer logistics.  I’m just not designed for this, if you’ll excuse the pun, shit. At 6 foot 4 inches, with the flexibility of a lump of granite, and an aim that even the American Army would balk at, this is not friendly fire. Now, in the spirit of diplomacy and cultural sensitivity I’ve given some thought to the relative merits of the squat versus the bowl method of expulsion, but can now categorically conclude that the latter triumphs, for the following reasons:

  • Unless you sit back to front you can’t miss when using a bowl. If you do sit back to front then, frankly, you have bigger problems, and should probably lay off the booze
  • The bowl method is more politically correct, providing as it does a male and female option (lid up or down)
  • It is far easier to read a paper/sit on a conference call (ideally on mute)/play Angry Birds when using a bowl
  • The Japanese have never invented a squat latrine that, at the press of a button, extends a small arm from under the seat rim that, somewhat erotically, shoots a stream of lukewarm water up your backside
  • It is not possible to topple face first off a bowl, landing in the dust with your pants around your ankles, to the startled bemusement of an innocent orphan (hypothetically, of course)

So, there you have it, I do believe that the contentious debate of squat vs bowl can now be closed.  Now, if you don’t mind, I have a paper to finish.

Competition time! In the interests of a healthy and open debate I’m inviting submissions that argue for or against the motion above, namely ‘this house believes the bowl is the better method of expulsion than the squat’. Leave your entries in the comments section below, or by emailing me, marking them 'dunny debate'. The best entries will be published in a future post, and the overall winner will be the recipient of a special prize!* Clearly, judging criteria will be largely based on what I find funny, so please no complex explanations of how the squat method is the holistic extension of how the intestines blah blah blah.  Yes, that means you Gillian McKeith.

*The competition organisers would like to point out that there is no special prize.

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  1. I am in the 'bowl' camp - without a bowl how else would I be able say to Dan, "Come on Dan, I think it's time for a sit-down wee" when I find him hosing the bathroom floor after one too many whiskies?

    Loving the blog by the way...keep it coming! Glad to see you are enjoying your Gap Yah xx

  2. It depends quite a bit on the context. The bowl is yet another symbol of the secure, threat-free lifestyle we live in the West. Here, we can allow ourselves to become vulnerable, gently shackling our legs together with our trousers and installing ourselves on porcelain thrones. Leisure and necessity blend together in a moment with technology that praises our digestive capabilities.

    However, if you at risk of, say, a lion attack or having to quickly rush to the defense of your family, the squat offers infinite advantages. You are a coiled spring, ready to lunge forth with power and aggression. And a turd cannon with the safety off. The enraged expression for having been disturbed in your moment of Zen is instant warpaint. It is the origin of several old African proverbs, including, loosely translated, "If that dude's a-poopin', don't go a-snoopin'", "To protect the herd, you must go loaded with turd" and "Spring like a gazelle, shit like a seagull."

  3. I'm properly sniggering to myself in a slightly random internet cafe at those postings Matt and Rhi. Got a strange look when I snorted.

    Another proverb Matt: 'Unless you are a complete tool, you must always drop the kids off at the pool'