Called To Ordure

If there’s one thing that embarrasses the average English man (I can’t speak for English women) it’s going for a crap . . . Why are you laughing? This is already difficult enough!

I’ve just finished reading about the glories of the bidet on a blog I follow and it got me reflecting on how things used to be, faecal-wise, when J and I first came to live in our quiet backwater – and just how much things have changed and improved.

Back then, public toilets were only to be found adjacent to a mosque. They would have an attendant who collected money for doing nothing other than maybe changing the bit of rag that passed for a hand towel once a month. These attendants were obviously recruited from sufferers of Anosmia – and it was patently more than their job was worth to splash a bit of ‘Brobat’ about now and again. My experiences of these places was fairly limited as I generally preferred the option of dying from some toxicosis or other brought on by bouts of severe anal retention.

They were uniformly grim!

‘Western’ loos had begun to replace the ubiquitous squat types offering customers a choice. Outside of the Turkish middle classes and the newly arriving foreign expats, adaption to change was slow – when you’ve grown up squatting – feet firmly planted on the floor, learning to perch on the rim of one of these new-fangled jobs could be a precarious experience.

Overcoming the problem of washing ones arse when there’s a wc pedestal in the way was neatly solved by the addition of a cold water tap attached to a little bit of bent, battered and verdigris-covered pipe that protruded out from under the back of the seat. This solution was pretty damn good, apart for one thing – the pipes wasn’t fixed and unless you were careful and planned ahead you could well end up with a great jet of water gushing into your trousers which were bundled around your ankles.

About eight or nine years ago, the belediye in the town of Köyceğiz near Dalyan, had a new public toilet block constructed. What a wonder it was; a thing of great beauty and elegance! With potted palms, polished marbled floors, expensive and tasteful ceramics, air fresheners, real as well as plastic floral displays, roller towels and hand dryers, soft lighting and softer toilet paper, smiling attendants who offered cologne and even Muzak!

my old boat 'La Fay' at her mooring

What a fabulous place. J and I were so taken with it that we used to take our family and friends, on my boat, to the town for the sole purpose of letting them use the best public toilets in the world (at the time). Some of them were even kind enough to say that it was the highlight of their trip!

Today, Turkey has come a long way in so many different spheres – not least as a world leader in the design and manufacture of sanitary ware (that is the correct term) and associated accessories (taps, plugs and toilet roll holders). I dream of the day when every public tuvalet looks like a page torn from an ArtemA catalogue – before you use it to wipe away the verdigris!


Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

‘Toilet Time Travel’

the oldest 'squatter' in the world?

typical squatter
Made InTurkey - world class
the man who started it all - Thomas Crapper
original ad for a 'Crapper'

14 thoughts on “Called To Ordure

  1. Alas – The plans I had to eat breakfast after this post, went out the window after the 2nd paragraph. I was impressed by the squatter on the hilltop though. How cool is that? A lovely view while you dump your bodies waste solids!

    1. . . dear me; so sorry Natalie. If I’d realised you hadn’t had breakfast I’d have kept it bottled up.
      The loo-with-a-view is great; just goes to show that they knew how to do these things back then – no ‘Porta Loo’ for them!

  2. To be obsessed with toileting and all things anal is a peculiarly British pre-occupation and I’m no different. I love the idea of the ‘in-pan’ bidet accessory but not in the depth of winter when the icy rush could cause a seizure. When I first tried it the water pressure was so high the jet shot between my legs and hit the opposite wall (I’m not kidding). I rely on wet ones now to keep my important little places fragrant. I feel a post coming on.

  3. Great one! you should only add the “Duchamp toilet” to close in glamour your post 😉

    1. Thanks Ravit;well, Marcel certainly made a fine, upstanding contribution to the art and science of having a pee.

  4. wow with a last name like that who wouldn’t call whatever they invented a “crapper” ha ha ha

    1. Poor bloke- especially as it was in common usage together with the shortened version during his lifetime!

  5. Bravissimo!! Brillant! I love this post Alan! And I love the fabulous photos. Over the years both for work and personal reasions I have travelled all around the globe and I think I could probably write a book on all the different toilets I have used and the goofy experiences I have had. Probably the most unusual came on a bus trip from Srinagar to Leh in India– from the Indian latrines (oh horrors) to the Tibeten hole on the second floor that let the crap fall directly down the the pig pens below.
    I have often exchanged silly stories with some of my female journalist friends and one of the funniest stories I heard was my friend who had to take a British military flight from some base in the UK into Afghanistan. She was the only woman on the gazillion hour flight. At a certain point she had to pee and realized there was no bathroom. When she asked, the soldiers showed her that behind a curtain there was a little hole in the wall of the plane that one was supposed to pee into. Obviously it is impossible for a woman to pee into a hole on the wall of a plane. Eventually they cut off the bottom of a plastic bottle for her to use. (Didn’t you say you used to be in the British military — maybe you can clarify this issue– why no toilets on military planes? What if someone has to do more than pee??)

    I also had a funny experience when I was trying to get into the mountains of Negros in the Philippines to do a story on the communist rebels. I spent hours and hours on a bus trying to hide as we passed through military checkpoints. When we finally got to a village in the middle of nowhere, the everyone there wanted to check out the weird looking white girl. All I wanted to do was pee, and there was no bathroom. Finally they took me to some local watering hole and someone gave me a metal pot to pee in and I had to squat behind a cloth and pee in the pot while the whole village was waiting on the other side listening to me tinkle (and having a good laugh too)! Ah, it makes me giggle thinking of all these funny stories. Thanks for putting me in a good mood on a Monday morning!

    1. Hello Trisha! Thanks for generous comments – glad to help your week off to a good start.
      Having grown up with a mother who had some strange ideas of what was ‘clean’ and what was ‘dirty’ resulted in a few phobias and hang-ups over the years. A period of time in the ‘Paras’ cured most of them!
      On that subject (army), I can’t imagine what the world is coming too! When I served, nearly 50 years ago, every plane had a rather cramped loo – and that in the days when it was unthought of for a woman to be on a flight. Funniest thing I recall about aircraft loos was when a civilian movie guy was on board to film a jump – as the stick started to thunder out of the doors he passed out and collapsed into the little loo – camera and all!

  6. @Trisha Thomas – Your commentWow Wow – Trish – after all these years of hearing about your visits with the communist rebels – I never knew this funny story! ok, next blog- bathroom stories – M. has tons!

    1. . . we’ve all heard about ‘Dark Matter’ – your sister is a bit of a ‘Dark Matter Hari’!!

Comments are closed.