A trip to the toilet is, of course, a call of nature nobody can avoid.
But nothing divides the human population on earth more than the sitting and squatting toilet.
The call of nature is made by some to the restroom, washroom or bathroom while others make it to the bog, the loo or the John.
However, there can be no doubt the word ‘Toilet’ and the abbreviation of ‘WC’ for ‘Water Closet’ are commonly understood by nearly everyone.
The traditional place to go for the toilet trip was the chamber pot.
This was a bowl-shaped container with a handle which was used in the room as a toilet.
The usual method of disposal from the pot was onto the open street outside the house.
‘Guardez l’eau’ or ‘Beware of the water’ was the cry from the disposer and somehow this contracted into the modern slang word ‘Loo’ to refer to the toilet.
The chamber pot is, in fact, still used today in countries that have no indoor plumbing.
The disposal method from the chamber pot led to serious public health concerns about sanitation and hygiene and how to stop the spread of life-threatening diseases such as cholera.
The modern home today is built with a toilet or water closet inside the home either separate from or a part of the bathroom and the toilet trip is a whole lot more comfortable and easier.
Many bedrooms have an en-suite bathroom with a toilet. That is certainly the ‘norm’ in guest houses, homestays and hotels.
There is real meaning to the phrases ‘she is sitting on the throne’, ‘a trip to the John’ and …….. ‘a load of crap’.
When Queen Elizabeth I visited her Godson Sir John Harrington in 1596, little would she or (we) know that the flushing sit down toilet would take hold of the civilized world and the illustrious chamber pot would have seen its day.
All it needed was a degree of plumbing expertise supplied a couple of hundred years later by a Yorkshireman, Thomas Crapper.
In between, Thomas Chippendale, a master craftsman in his own right, fashioned the Commode, a glorious piece of furniture on wheels, where elderly incontinents would sit on the ‘throne’ without any need for plumbing intracacies and discharge their waste.
Technicians since have come up with the bidet and the washlet to further address our practical concerns about ease of use, comfort,time, dignity, disease and health when making a toilet trip.
If the toilet is seen by Americans as the rest room, a place to go and clean up, powder your nose and refresh, then for the rest of the world, the place to defacate is and should be no more than a hole in the ground and time spent there should be no longer than the time it takes to do your necessary bodily discharge.
The Japanese, it seems, have taken the concept of the American rest room a step further than the Americans themselves could ever have dreamed.
We now enter a toilet (or a water closet if you prefer) and sit on the ‘throne’ with all the accessories of royalty. We sit on the toilet seat and there are control buttons so we can choose when and how to flush clean our posterior while listening to hip-hop, classical or rock n roll. The aromatherapeutic state takes on a new dimension.
School students study there, secretaries and personal assistants take notes there, poets and playwrights get their inspiration there. Wife-nagged husbands hide there. Those of unsound mind live there. People lost to the world find God there.
Oddly, the chamber pot remains in vogue, if only for its antiquity while its smaller relation, the potty, is the essential item for toilet training of every young child. Low and behold the bedpan in nearly every hospital ward!
It has also been dramatically re-invented as the Piss-pot and has become a valuable accessory for a long car journey, especially when you are stuck in a traffic jam and a place of Public Convenience is not immediately accessible.
Those in favour of the sitting toilet argue it is more dignified, more convenient and easier than the squat toilet which involves removing clothes in a tight wet space and provides a challenge to counteract cramps and discomfort. It is more convenient for the disabled and the elderly.
Medics will tell you you are less likely to get a hernia, appendicitis, constipation or other ailments which are attributed to the sit down toilet and the actual act of defecation is easier. Not only that but the squat toilet is a lot cheaper to install and maintain.
Roll out the red carpet! The toilet is your throne and the WC is your Kingdom, if only for a few minutes. A man can dream. Yes, a man CAN dream!