Toilets may not be glamorous, but they serve a very important purpose. One might even argue they are a necessary foundation stone for civilization.
There is value in knowing something about toilets, especially when traveling, where it is worse than awkward to be caught unprepared by a “squatting pan” in Asia or a “smart toilet” in some high cost hotel. This helpful article on “sanitary ware” briefly describes the differences. And this European travel site offers critical information travelers to Europe should consider before hitting the road.
These sites offer examples of what one might call “good” toilet info. Reasonable, even helpful. There are also informative articles such as this post on “Dangerous Slang” that provide beneficial information.
Where the subject grows weird, is when curiosity transcends the boundary between sensible and peculiar. I’ll avoid calling this “bad” toilet info . . . although the label “odd” most certainly applies.
A recent piece in the newspaper pointed out a prime example of toiletology gone awry.
It described a large home in South Korea built by Sim Jae-Duck. It is modeled directly upon the shape of a toilet, something that apparently overshadowed the poor man’s entire life. It appears that he was obsessed with the device because he was born in one. (This is not as unusual as one might think. At a “mature” age, my wife’s grandmother delivered her youngest child in that fashion, unaware that she was pregnant.)
Returning to Mr. Sim, he was successful enough to eventually become mayor of Suwon and a member of Parliament. He founded the World Toilet Association and was its president until his death in 2009. One might expect the peculiar home to quickly be forgotten after its creator’s passing, but that is not the case.
Affectionately known as “Mr. Toilet House,” the structure now houses a significant museum and a “theme park” of sorts.
This collection from an Australian expert on toilet photography offers an impressive tour of the museum for those unable to travel to the Republic of Korea for a personal visit. (Just avoid clicking to the second page of photos which includes statuary that’s too realistic for anyone but the most curious toileteer.
Toilets and the Inklings
The Inklings were normal men, which means they used them . . . and they did not write about it. However, as a young man Lewis did include a humorous comment in a letter to his brother, Warnie. In 1928 he proposed a walking trip to “the most glorious village on the edge of the Stroud valley . . .”
The Bathurst estate beyond Cirencester is a place we must revisit when you come home. You can take the whole breakfast to lunch walk in the glorious woods and then emerge into the open in time to lunch at the most glorious village on the edge of the Stroud valley, which winds away as far as you can see, delightfully wooded and watered.
(The first Lord Bathhurst, I am told, was raised to the peerage for inventing a new kind of toilet paper for Queen Anne.)
A final note on the matter comes in the form of an interview about The Kilns, where the Lewis brothers resided in Oxford. The Assistant to the Warden for The C.S. Lewis Study Centre at The Kilns answered an odd query “usually [posed as] a joke.”
Question 4: Did Lewis use the current toilet in the Kilns?
You’d be surprised how often I get this question. It’s usually a joke, but I play along with it anyway. But the actual answer is yes and no. He used the toilets in the home (the two original ones), but the original toilet seats have been replaced.