Sunday, February 25, 2007


Yes, there is such a thing as the Continental Shelf and it is a fundamental component of the Great White Telephone through which we all converse with our god in times of severe distress.

However, when faced with a view such as this and despite the urgency and desperation involved in making such a sight a necessity, one cannot help but wonder at some of its more obvious design features. One’s first and quite natural assumption that it was designed for human use by a human with at least some experience of evacuatory functions is rapidly replaced by the conviction that the designer or, more probably the designers...a sub-committee consisting of two three-year-olds, a sub-atomic particle physicist and a continental equivalent of a Sun leader writer...never actually had to use the bloody thing.

I mean, no matter what the excretion or evacuation involved in its use, the design mitigates against facility in every respect.

If one considers the technicolour yawn, for example, one must concede that the diced carrots, proceeding at quite a lick under the influence of gravity and the acceleration generated by a heaving stomach, will hit the porcelain after having been decelerated by at most, 1cm of standing water. Now, I am sure that some kind of physical formula obtains to calculate to a nicety the resulting flow patterns but, I think you will agree, it would not take the combined processing power of too many computers to conclude that the splatter factor of such an event would be of too high a magnitude for it to be entirely contained within the bowl provided.

This is doubly unfortunate as, under normal circumstances, such use is accompanied by an almost blissful inability to care and a complete lack of cognisance both of which mitigate against the user leaving the scene in a state even remotely approximating that in which they found it. It is my experience that this will result in one’s having to make one’s own coffee the following morning and a rigorously enforced period of being ‘off games’.

If we move on to the urinary function, one is faced with the identical problem of splash-back. As porcelain is not noted for its ability to absorb impact, the wearing of both shoes and trousers is the only way one can remain in non-theoretical ignorance of the golden shower effect taking place below the level of the knees.

The only way of avoiding this entirely is to attempt to direct one’s stream into the deep water at the front edge of the bowl. This can be attempted in two ways, neither of which is in any way practicable. The first is a sideways on stance which is fine in mid-stream as it were but completely useless at both extremes due to the decrease in front to back target area. At commencement, most men will admit to not having the slightest knowledge of the exact point of impact until, in this case, it is far too late to adjust one’s initial aim. At cessation, it is impossible to guess the strength of the muscular contractions we employ to squeeze out any recalcitrant liquid and this too, will result in either over- or under-shooting.

The second is to develop such a technique that one can piss vertically downwards without losing one’s balance and whatever control one has over the stream. This is impossible.

And what of the unloading bay’s most pleasurable activity, the longed for and much anticipated dump? Well, this is problematic on so many levels it beggars belief.

The first is again, the problem of splash-back. Whereas in a perfectly designed British contrivance, the evacuate is funnelled downwards into a sufficient depth of water and never has to impact at right angles anywhere, the Shelf, on the other hand, appears designed to maximise ricochet. Now, I am sure that your diets ensure your stools are of a pleasing firmness and regularity and that it is only my insistence on the highly spiced that results in what a certain wombat of my acquaint has termed a ‘Bangalore Arse Rocket’ but, on occasions like these it is only the presence of my ample buttocks which prevents my making major alterations to the colour schemes of the floor and wall tiles and a resultant spatter pattern which would not look out of place at even the most frenzied crime scene.

Your advice at this point would probably be to increase my fibre intake and very sound advice it would be too. And yet a firm and log-like stool would incur another penalty.

One has only to consider the inability of the average turd to curl regularly around itself like one of those German sausages or maybe even a brioche together with the distance between one’s puckered sphincter and ground zero to realise that any anal extrusion longer than say about 12 - 15 cms is going to require a direction other than down in which to go. Now, I realise that no stool is firm enough to retain vertical integrity under even the lightest peristaltic strain so what one might gleefully term a logjam, in which equal and opposite forces achieve perfect balance is, to all intents and purposes, impossible but, the problem remains. Where does it go?

Well, depending on density and distribution of mass, to any point of the compass is where. At some point along its length it will begin to sag and, upon exit, the upper end of the log will tend to follow the direction of sag. Now, if one considers the topography of the arse with the coccyx as South and one’s gender specific attributes as North, one can immediately see that both West and East are, when thusly seated, at a lower elevation than one’s anal orifice and that the chances of suffering buttock smear in such a situation are reasonable to high. And even given the possibility of it travelling exactly along the North – South axis, those possessant of a scrotum are at an even higher risk of discomfiture.

And then there is the question of what (seeing as we’re on the subject of all things anal) kitchen chemist Heston Blumenthal would undoubtedly call the flavour molecules. With any sensibly designed apparatus, the solid olfactory evidence remains satisfactorily submerged and it is only that of gaseous provenance which provides the nasal accompaniment to one’s enjoyment of the sports pages or, my own particular preference, the latest Elmore Leonard. With the shelf however, one is not only sitting in one’s shit but on it giving free escape to all said molecules throughout the whole process.

Even if one manages a smear and spatter free evacuation, the perils of the shelf are not yet over. When one reaches down to wipe, it is advisable to make sure one’s knuckles do not, under any circumstances, come into contact with the top of the pile.

All in all, the lack of the possibility of a diving turd causing an entry splash resulting in a few drops of lightly scented lavatorial water to attach themselves to one’s cheeks and the ease with which one can examine one’s stool for colour, consistency, texture, worms and the like are hardly ample compensation for the drawbacks of this particular shelf-life which does not represent too much of a technological advance from the pole and a hole in the ground.

Now please excuse me. I have to go water my socks.

No comments: