PC toilets coming your way soon

Several years ago, my family and I visited Pompeii, which is one of the most wondrous tourist destinations in the world.  To maximize our experience, we hired a highly recommended guide who walked us over the grounds, explaining everything before us.  This guide’s particular passion was plumbing.  He had no words for the wonders of Roman plumbing, many of which are still visible in Pompeii, and the European tragedy that saw this sophisticated plumbing disappear for around 1800 years.  This was also a British tragedy, since England had once enjoyed the benefits of Roman plumbing, only to forget that benefit for centuries, along with the rest of the European world.

I am certainly a fan of modern plumbing.  Indeed, when I lived in England thirty years ago, one of the things that stamped it as a civilized country in my mind was the fact that, no matter where one went, one could find clean, functioning public toilets.  (We will ignore, for purposes of this post, the execrable toilet paper that accompanied that lovely plumbing.)  For a tourist with a small bladder, this was a very big deal.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised by England’s heightened appreciation for clean toilets.  After all, Thomas Crapper, the father of the modern toilet, was a British subject.  Although he may not have invented the modern flush toilet, it was he who brought it to the masses, allowing people to break free from chamber pots that needed to be emptied by hand (usually into the street) or squalid pit toilets in smelly back yards.

Sadly, however, England seems to be retreating to a pre-modern era when it comes to plumbing.  In order to accommodate the overwhelmingly delicate sensibilities of new immigrants who have not, in their home countries, enjoyed the blessings of modern plumbing, at least one major commercial outlet in Britain has installed pit toilets, over which one squats, rather than our nice, Western-style thrones:

For centuries, the great British loo has been a matter of envy to the rest of the world.

Thanks to the efforts of pioneers like the legendary Thomas Crapper, we have long since led the world in comfort and hygiene.

Now, however, that could be about to change.

For most of us, the squat toilet is nothing more than a staple of horror stories about old-fashioned French service stations or the exploits of adventurous backpackers in far-flung parts of India.

But this basic form of plumbing, also known as a Turkish toilet or Nile pan, could be coming to a shopping centre near you – and all in the name of cultural sensitivity.

From next week, shoppers in Rochdale who push open the cubicle door expecting the reassuring sight of a modern, clean lavatory could instead be faced with little more than a hole in the ground.

Bosses of the Greater Manchester town’s Exchange mall have installed two as part of an upgrade costing several thousand pounds after attending a cultural awareness course run by a local Muslim community activist.

A familiar sight in parts of the Middle East, and still sometimes seen in France and Italy, the toilets require users to squat above them, rather than sitting.

With one in ten of Rochdale’s population of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin, centre managers say they have been told some members of the local Asian community prefer them for cultural reasons.

You can read more on this cultural regression here.

I continue to believe that, when immigrants arrive legally in a new country, they should have made available to them all the opportunities that country affords, that they should not be subject to discrimination because of their immigrant status and that, in the privacy of their own homes and the comforts of their own communities, they should be allowed to surround themselves with the trappings of their home culture, if they so desire.

I have never believed, however, that the destination country should be forced by political correctness to re-make itself into a reasonable simulacrum of the country left behind.  After all, I have to assume immigrants move for a reason, which reason, presumably, is that the destination country offers opportunities denied them in their homeland.  To turn England into a primitive Pakistani village is ludicrous, and offensive both to the British themselves and to those immigrants who genuinely sought a new life in a new culture.

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    I haven’t traveled to many third world destinations, but I know several who have gone beyond the capitals and into ‘no loo-lands’.
    When I inquired about a trip, I was told in no uncertain terms that said loo-less land was a sh*t hole in every conceivable way.  England is digging a hole literally and figuratively – someone needs to get the shovel out of their hands. They are not only digging for PC toilets, they’re digging their own graves.

  • Oldflyer

    Oh, my!  Maybe some obscure virus, that attacks the parts of the brain that support rational thought, has been unleashed in the Western world.  That is the only explanation that I can conceive of for the plague of irrational behavior we are witnessing
    There is one other possible explanation, and it is related to the onset of the Dark Ages  early in the past millenium.  It could be that we are on the verge of the next “Ice Age”.  Don’t tell Al Gore, he has enough troubles already.

  • 11B40

    Having spent a part of my young adulthood in some of the Earth’s more interesting jungles, I, too, have a deep appreciation for the miracle of modern indoor plumbing.  But, folks, we’ve got trouble right here in Plumbing City. In addition to the desert barbarians attacking our societal gates, we have the insidious subversion of those who hold our consumptive debt. Yes, the ChiComs have opened their offensive to undermine America’s sanitariness, and, in conjunction with their enviro-nitwit allies, have introduced and, perhaps, monopolized what are euphemistically referred to as “low-flow” (no-flow??) toilets.  Well, guys, it ain’t “low-flow” if you have to flush it three times.
    Apparently, the ChiComs, in their rush to drive Americans out of another industry, failed to begin their research with the good Mr. Crapper and also failed to adequately survey the weight and volume of excrement deposited once daily (Thank God) by an American male of, say, 6-feet+ height and 200 pounds+ weight.  While they certainly reached their “low” goals by reducing the size of the hole and the amount of water used, they grossly underestimated the “flow” capability when dealing with the discharges of a FULLY GROWN human being.  I mean how can they totally disregard their twenty years of experience using indoor plumbing.  And I don’t think they have.  I see nothing but intentionally here, slowly but surely raising the stress levels of Americans by disturbing and complicating one of life’s most basic and intimate functions.  Even my sweetheart, a woman of near infinite patience, as I’m sure you have already guessed, and who coined the expression, “Don’t involve me in anything that doesn’t include a tile bathroom” is beginning to complain and looking into forming a Pee Party.  Myself, I’m, slowly but surely, slipping into bathroom-phobia.

  • suek

    Heh.  We finally had to shop for a new toilet a couple of years ago.  I learned a couple of odd things – as if frequently the case. (I’m _so_ tired of learning something new every day….isn’t there some point in life where you know it all???  I could become a Liberal, I guess…).  Before you go shopping, you need to determine the height of the “throne”.  Height??? Of the seat????  who knew they came in different heights!  I thought it was “average” and “handicapped”!!  Not so.  They’re mostly 14inches, 14.5, 15.0 and 15.5  At least at Home Depot, that’s what’s available.  So measure one at home that’s “comfy” and go with that.  If you get caught unawares, I _think_ that the relationship is related to the height at the top of your knee.  For obvious reasons.
    Anyway.  After you make that critical determination, you need to decide the diameter of the exit hole. ??? I’m kidding???? nope.  The toilet we were replacing was at the end of the house.  The _house_ exit hole is in the middle of the house, and we have a long single story house.  Having a fear that without sufficient slope, plus having a lo-flow toilet would mean that _something_ critical would stop midway, I opted for the largest size.  Apparently they come in 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 (diameter of the hole).  We got the 4.5.  It works great.  No problems.  Well… except maybe one.  It’s LOUD when you flush!  As in _everybody_ in the entire house – and maybe my neighbors – I haven’t asked! – knows the toilet has just been flushed.
    But it works.  Everything clears in one push of the handle.  Once only required.  And so far, nothing backed up to indicate that _something_ has gotten stuck halfway down the house.  So far.  It’s been a couple of years – I think we’re safe.

  • excathedra

    Since I am of partly Irish extraction, I am aware of the dark side of Britain, but since I am an American, I know that their virtues were outstanding and that without them the world would be a far worse place than it is. So to watch their suicidal and pathetic cultural nervous breakdown is painful. Painful. And shameful. Especially when the forces they are surrendering to are so utterly unworthy of respect. I sometimes think it would have been preferable for them to have been defeated by the Nazis; at least they would have gone down fighting in flames, with their dignity intact.

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~nooriginalthought/ Charles

    The last sentence in the MailOnline article says everything that really matters:

    <I>”. . . and if this is meant to cater for Muslims we would point out that <B>the vast majority use normal toilets in their own homes.'”</B></I>

    and Suek;  you crack me up:

    <I>” . . . I’m _so_ tired of learning something new every day….isn’t there some point in life where you know it all???  I could become a Liberal, I guess”</I>

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  • Danny Lemieux

    Hmmm, is this what the Brits would refer to as “Crap and Pray” legislation? Just askin’.
    American innovation, meanwhile, scales new heights with the marvelous “no clog” and water-saving Champion toilet, making us the envy of the world, no doubt.

  • Zhombre

    Perhaps Rochedale should also cater to some of the other preferences of their Pakistani population:

  • Indigo Red

    I am so glad you wrote on this subject, Book. I was beginning to fear for my sanity as I have written several times on toilets and related accoutrements. Last month, I wrote a post called “World toilet crisis is a lot of crap” http://furtheradventuresofindigored.blogspot.com/2010/06/world-toilet-crisis-is-lot-of-crap.html . It describes the efforts being made in several Third World countries to improve sanitation by installing Western toilets in individual homes and huts. There’s a video and it’s gross, but I do encourage everyone to watch.

  • Jose

    This reminds me of the story about the Saudis using their oil revenue to build nice modern homes for the Bedouins, who ignored the kitchen appliances and built cooking fires on the floor.

  • Jose

    While comparing tales of hardship, a fellow airman told me of providing security on a Saudi base during Desert Storm.  One of the most significant hardships, from his perspective, was choosing between the crude and temporary field latrines or the equally distasteful “hole in floor” found in the permanent buildings.

    At some point he was delighted to find, in an obscure location near his post, an unmarked bathroom with a genuine western style toilet that no one else knew about.  He kept it a secret and was apparently the only person who used it.   As a result his quality of life was vastly improved for the rest of his tour.

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