Friday, 23 March 2012

Toilet Humour

I used to work with a loud mouthed journalist who loved to employ Kelvin Mackenzie's loutish put down against any criticism of the Sun, 'You read it though doncha!' Kelvin's usual evasion and bluster. One brave day I spoke up, 'That's right I do, if it's in front of me, and I read toilet walls as well.' It did the trick. It's true, I mean you have to do something while you're standing there. The other day I stood before black crayoned Nietzche disapproving of a god that needs to be worshipped. So last century. Elsewhere, 'To be is to do - Sartre. To do is to be - Camus. Do-be-do-be-do - Sinatra'. Old hat but funnier.

How does the soprano sing? 'I dreamed I dwelled in marble stalls with many writings on the walls…' Something like that. 'The future of Britain is in your hands - While you're reading this you're pissing on your boots - Be alert, Britain needs more lerts - Always stick up for your dad because he stuck up for you - I like grils…' etc. etc. Old familiars all of them and once in a while a resurrected classic.

Like 'Here I sit broken hearted, paid a penny only farted.' Well that's dated isn't it? From a time when it did cost a penny and an old penny at that, when the coin had value and spending one was an expense. It's 30p at Victoria and a bleak experience it is too. In Harrods the bathroom costs a round pound. (My dog needs to use the bathroom! You hear that in New York.) Inside al Fayed's super-bog you get a tall man in a funny hat and not a peep on the walls. Daylight robbery. Get back to Egypt. I'm told ladies' loos don't host this kind of entertainment. Can it be true? Is that why stand up comedians are mostly men?

Years back there was a publication called The Golden Convolvulus which maintained the only place people could express their sexuality was on toilet walls. This was before Lady Chatterley, homosexual and divorce reform, abortion and the Pill. Since the 60's the fear of sex and its consequences has largely disappeared and as a result the confused and the lonely have largely fallen silent. Which all round is a good thing. Nevertheless there are still gay call numbers and wham-bam assignations. Piss poor I say. Why go cottaging when there are so many other places to meet?

I used to frequent 'Norman's - the grumpiest landlord in Soho' and The French House in Dean Street, still do the latter, the haunt of artists and writers I've seen some good stuff there. Here's something intriguing and truly memorable: 'My name is Armitage Shanks and I am not impressed'. A world opens up. But this from Alan Bennett beats them all: 'When the English have to resort to the toilet for their humour the writing's on the wall'.

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