Miles Kington: Why I regret missing the World Toilet Summit

Is there a Tutankhamun's Loo beneath Cambridge Circus, waiting for future explorers?
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The Independent Online

And then one day it had gone. It was closed, and tarmac was spread over the whole junction, and all trace of the palatial Gents had vanished. Or was it just the entrance that had gone? Was the loo itself still there below ground? Is there still a ghostly crypt beneath the bland roadway? A Tutankhamun's Loo, waiting for future explorers? ("Lord Caernarvon! Come and look at this porcelain! It's ... priceless!")

The notion that Peru has no public toilets was something I learnt the last time my teenage son bought Nuts magazine. He kept the main body of the magazine, which seems to be devoted to the worship of the female form, but kindly let me have the supplement, called Pub Ammo, subtitled "32 Pages of Amazing Facts". Thus I have learnt that Alfred Hitchcock had no belly button (it disappeared when he was sewn up after an operation), and that during the War, for reasons of economy, Oscar statuettes were made of wood, not metal. Also that the average person goes to the bathroom six times a day, which I find truly amazing, as I go there at least 20 times a day, looking for books, or shoes, or newspapers, or cassette players ...

Of course, when Nuts says "goes to the bathroom", they don't mean that. They mean "go to the loo". You'd think that such a brash, bold magazine would have the courage to come right out with "go to the loo", but if they haven't got the guts to call Alfred Hitchcock's belly button a navel, I don't suppose they'll be much braver with toilet matters.

This British prudery was immortalised in a sketch written years ago by Terry Jones and Michael Palin for, I think, Do Not Adjust Your Set, in which a visitor to someone's house made the following attempt to go to the loo. (This is a reconstruction from memory.)

Man: Would you mind very much if I, er, visited the smallest room in the house?

Owner: Not at all! Now, which would be the smallest room? I rather think that would be the coal house ...

Man: No ...

Owner: No, perhaps you're right. The attic, I think.

Man: No, actually, the thing is, I just want to see a man about a dog.

Owner: Really? What kind of dog were you thinking of getting?

Man: Well ... I just need to commune with nature.

Owner: And you think getting a dog is the best way to do that? You may be right ...

Man: Look! Oh God! The fact is, I'm dying for a pee!

Owner: Well, why on earth didn't you say in the first place? No need to beat about the bush! CALLING TO WIFE. Darling, I'm just going to show Jim the doughnut in granny's greenhouse!

This plainly tickled Vivian Stanshall, leader of the Bonzo Dog Band, the great comic group who were also on that TV programme, because the next Bonzo Dog Band LP was actually given the title The Doughnut In Granny's Greenhouse.

Is that enough toilet trivia for you?

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