Taxonomy is the classification and categorisation of… uh, stuff. First we will look at the various kinds of toilet paper you will find, bog roll if you will, their properties and the differentiators between them.
If you go into your local supermarket-me-do, you will notice that for a half-decent toilet roll you’ll pay about 30p. This number drops slightly based on the volume, quiltyness, ply and number of inexplicable pictures of chickens or boondoggles.
The average man consumes his own weight in bog roll once every thirteen days. Well, not consumes, that would be disgusting. But you know what I mean. Uses. Multiply that by the headcount in an average enterprise and the money expunged on what is nothing more than sheets of paper poo-brooms for its staff is astronomical. For corporations, the cost of their lav tissue must be substantially lower than 30p. Especially when the smart, and gastronomically talented, employees will save up for days just to save their own 8-ply silky, aloe-vera-painted tissue at home.
That brings us nicely onto the two categories of corporate bog roll.
After the generous feedback from Part 1, it seemed only right to continue The Gentlemen’s Guide to Toilet Etiquette. Womenfolk, look away now. This gets graphic!
When an aircraft unexpectedly smashes into the side of a Tibetan mountain range at 550mph, those with the foresight to keep their seatbelt on (even after the movie starts) often suffer from a serious psychological burden called survivor’s guilt. There is a similar condition that the men of our noble nation are afflicted with on a regular basis. It is the origin of the British stiff upper lip. It is the very roots of our infamous constitution. It is a veritable pain in the arse too.
There are two types of shitter’s guilt:
Woe! Man Interrupted
You’ve spent hours traversing the halls at work looking for that most holy of holies: an empty gents. There is something so sublime about finding your very own vestibule of serene purgation.
You dance (figuratively speaking, dancing is strictly forbidden in the magical chamber of purification) with unbridled glee as you flit from cubicle to cubicle finding the most well-proportioned and cleanest throne. After a dalliance with almost CSI-like forensic skill, you enter your chosen cube, drop trou, and settle in for the duration. A well practiced porcelain monarch can get comfortable in as few as four or five shuffles; for those less accustomed to precision buttock parking it can be considerably more. Remember: there is no greater sting than a bogseat-induced red ring.
Maybe it’s because my dad was a plumber before he retired but I find public bathrooms interesting places. Not in the same way that George Michael finds them interesting you understand.
It has been said that Coca Cola is “the great leveller”. Whether you’re a President of the United States, or a shoeless pauper in the shanty towns of Mombasa, you get the same Coca Cola. Toilets are pretty much the same thing. Rupert Murdoch and Rupert the Bear both just ask for a hole in the ground in which to ablute.
Gents toilets are especially funny to observe. Again, I reiterate, not in any kind of trying-to-catch-somebody’s-eye kind of way (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my bag, baby), in fact, that’s usually a pretty direct route to an unpleasant confrontation and a mouthful of (wait for it) knuckles. Western civilisation is at a point now where things are a bit broken. We complain about the German bloke around the pool on holiday in his Speedos with half a testicle hanging out, pointing, tutting, and shaking our heads with emphatic displeasure (and laughing, usually), and they we’ll happily stand next to the German bloke later that night, after he’s put some pants on, with his little man hanging out whizzing in the same trough as us.
Women probably don’t understand the strict rules of Gents toilets. I mean, why would they? They’re probably as much of an enigma to them as their toilets are to us. What is it that makes female toilets so different to ours that they demand two-person operation? They never go alone! If watching cheesy teenage RomComs has taught me anything, ladies’ loos consist of nothing but an enormous mirror and girls doing their lippy and ensuring their boobs are appropriately pushed together. Surely they can do that by themselves?
Where was I? Oh yes. The Rules of The Gents go thusly:
Thou shalt not make eye contact. Under no circumstances will the light reflected off another patron of said Chamber of Ablutions strike thine retina. Upon accidental eye contact, utmost effort must be made to look in any other direction (upwards is preferred, especially if still at the urinals) and an abject apology must be immediately offered through the medium of a jaunty whistling.
A man’s time on the throne is precious and he will not be hurried. Great things have come from men spending time in the smallest room. James May attributes his entire career to it. The Space Shuttle, BBC Micro, The World Wide Web, Santa Claus, the Ford Capri 2.8i and probably toilet roll have all been conceived by blokes sitting upon porcelain. It is not uncommon to see cublicles being used as fortresses of solutide. Many a time I have entered my own cubicle, started to make use of the facilities and after several minutes a nearby cubicle door fly open, somebody mutter, “that’s it!”, and leave. They have clearly not been there making use of the icy white perch, instead they have been concocting sheer brilliance. And brilliance takes time. And sometimes a copy of Autocar.
Thou shalt not queue for the hand-dryer. Queueing is for two types of people. Bank customers and Russians in the 1990s. Your jeans offer sufficient absorbency.
Thou shalt find another urinal, mate. It is highly impolite to opt for a nearby urinal if there is an available one further away. If at all possible, two gentlemen entering the Anteroom of Natural Effectation must immediately diverge and find porcelain recepticles at opposite ends of the room. The bigger the room, the more polite you can be. Upon entering a public toilet to find two acquaintances shouting at eachother from opposite ends of the room, you must immediately issue the Muffled Cough of Respect and find the urinal equidistant from each of them.
Three shakes and you’re playing with yourself. Also known as the Ronseal rule. It does exactly what it says on the tin.
It is a competition. Whether you’re going for a onesy or a twosy, it is commonplace to try and make as much noise as possible. A significant and sustained waterfall sound is worthy of a Muffled Cough of Respect. While a US-Navy-frigate-dropping-a-depth-charge-into-the-mid-Atlantic kind of splash will usually attract a Hallowed Cough-Sniff. Achieving both at the same time is the Holy Grail of Battleshits and may result in light applause.
There are other rules too, but I feel a series coming on. Stay tuned…