Thursday, 25 February 2010

Le Pissoir

I have recently finished reading 'Clochmerle' by Gabriel Chevalier. It's a humorous book, satirising the clash between the secular and the religious, but taking in the general hypocrisy and venality of most humans along the way. The plot centres on the erection by the Republican mayor of a public urinal located outside the church. With hilarious results.
Here's a picture of a fairly typical French pissoir, which are much less common than they used to be. Be that as it may, most gentlemen can speak about the tremendous variety of urinals that one might encounter here and there. I think the foulest, most evil-smelling one I have ever experienced is at the Selimiye Mosque in Nicosia, Cyprus. Truly awful. It is quite a challenge to hold your breath long enough to walk down the steps to the designated hole in the floor, do what you need to, do and then walk back out again without collapsing.
One of the finest urinals I have visited was at the former Bourne & Hollingsworth department store in Oxford Street, London. Very nicely maintained black and white marble, and smelling of nothing very much. Sadly Bourne & Hollingsworth are no more, although the name has been misappropriated by a pretentious wine bar in nearby Rathbone Place, frequented by dilletantes and drunkards with too much money.
Inevitably, there is a site on the interwebtubes which celebrates urinals around the world. Check it out - there is apparently a very well appointed convenience in Rothesay, Isle of Bute, within the purview of no less a person than Prince Charles himself. He's a man who knows quality when he sees it.

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