Sunday, October 26, 2008

French toilets suck!

I'm so glad I pay French taxes because this has enabled the local council in Vileneuve sur Lot (yes, it should have two ls but it's so much more descriptive with just the one!) to carry out an enquiry into the state of toilets in the local schools.

Questions were asked, facilities visited and the results finally published.

Young children are afraid of falling down the squatty Turkish toilets.

Whaaat? They spent all that money and came up with THAT?!! But I could have told them for free!

The town council has promised to remove all these toilet from schools and replace them with the more commonly used 'sit upons' which hold less fear for the littlies. From here on, generations of English exchange students will no longer be able to chortle to each other and say 'you won't catch me using that thing' or 'well, which way do you stand then?' . A real piece of French life will be gone forever.

And I also think that it is overlooking the valuable additional facilities these toilets offer.

The Welly Washer

The flush on the toilets is often rather over-enthusiastic, given the space in which it has to work. Water cascades down from the high level cisterns and out through an angled pipe at the bottom, barely skimming the bowl of the 'squatter' before emptying over your shoes if you haven't moved quickly enough.

It's perfect for washing muddy boots after a hard day in the fields, rugby boots after a particularly muddy game and even school shoes if you are careful. From now on, irate mothers the length and breadth of the country will be heard shouting 'Oui, Jean Luc (or more likely these days Thibault-Christophe) get yer muddy boots out of the sink, I'm washing the lettuce for supper'.

Pre-Ski Fitness

So, you are looking forward to your annual week in La Mongie/Bareges/Bagneres de Luchon but after a soft summer swilling chilled rose wine and floating around on your blow up poolchair complete with convenient receptacle for holding you glass, let's be honest, the old muscles are a bit slack.

A quick search of the internet brings up a selection of pre-ski fitness exercises, using involving squatting down with you back pressed against the wall.

Come on, isn't it obvious? If you'd spent the year squatting in a Turkish toilet (OK, not the whole year, obviously) you'd have thighs like an England forward (Mmmmm!) a butt to match and you wouldn't spend the first few days rubbing Deep Heat into your overworked gluteous maximus - or even someone else's but then I guess that would be quite fun.


No, it doesn't mean that you can use a squatty toilet as a channel to the other side. This is the acronym (and boy, do the French love their acronyms!) given to games lessons at school.

Now, the French have never had a Conservative government to sell off their playing fields, so this is one thing we really can't blame Maggie Thatcher for. Most schools have little or no open spaces, no doubt because EU subsidies mean it's far more economically viable to plant wheat on any areas that could possibly be designated for school physical education and in any case, the relatives of Farmer LeBlanc, who's field abuts the school playground, are probably still fighting over their inheritance 35 years after his death, meaning that the local council has no chance of negotiating either purchase or use of the aforesaid land.

Still, there are the Turkish toilets...

How about this for a fitness regime. Each child must go into the toilet, lock the door, have a wee (or not if they don't feel the need), holding the squat position for a minimum of 30 seconds, pull the flush and get out of the locked toilet without getting their feet wet. You could work on it every week until the entire class can managed to stay dry. And, it would mean that the schools could keep the toilets locked all day (oops, apparently they do that anyway) to ensure cleanliness of the 'petit coin' as the little darlings would be able to have a pee during a supervised lesson thus avoiding the many hours the janitor has to spend cleaning spitballs off the ceiling and fishing the toilet paper out of the plugholes.

An invaluable aid to building up their speed and dexterity on the playing field - if they had any -but I'm sure it has some use during Greco-Roman wrestling, which fortunately they do fully clothed, unlike their Greco-Roman counterparts.

Jockey Training

The French like their racing as much as the next person. How about using the Turkish toilet to improve their position and balance? I can just imagine it.... a queue of French pixies in racing colours waiting to take their turn over the yawning abyss.

And finally.....

It's a useful tool against bullying because you really can't stick someone's head down the toilet and pull the flush. I don't know this for a fact as neither DD nor DS will volunteer however much I try to dress it up as a bona fide scientific study but just looking at the approximate dimensions, it would certainly be difficult.

Come on France! Think outside the box!

How is it though, that while many societies have evolved (except for the readers of Nuts, Closer and Heat magazine of course) French toilets actually have taken a step backwards.

For example, the personal privvy of Jean Sans Peur (John the Fearless), Duke of Burgundy in 1409, had a padded seat, was heated via a chimney and had a system of air circulation to combat odour. It had a 25 meter drop from his bowels to the bowels of his castle and the medieval septic tank can still be seen. It had a primitive filtration system which allowed liquid to run away and solids to settle on the bottom, to be removed from time to time by a Monsieur Fifi (honest, it's true!)

However, one has to feel a little bit sorry for the passenger on the TGV the other day who dropped his mobile phone down the toilet. In trying to retrieve it, he accidentally pressed the flush, which works on a suction system, and found himself with his arm firmly stuck down the pan. He had to be rescued by the fire brigade who had to cut the toilet out of the train and then remove him on a stretcher with the toilet still attached to his arm.

Silly man! Those of us in the know have always been aware that French toilets suck!!


blogthatmama said...

French toilets were things of dread at our Convent when we were going on exchanges, sad to think they're going down the pan. Boom Boom!

(Very) Lost in France said...

BTM - well done, there's no flies on you (unlike French toilets!) VLiF x

Sally's Chateau said...

I loathe French loo's, always the ghastly thought that you are going to drop something down that hideous gaping hole, such a stressful experience.

Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

Having not been to lovely France, i can only imagine what these toilets are like.
I am now to scared to come to France, in case i am caught short...It's not that i'm adverse to's just that after nearly 20 years of working on my hands and knees, my knees are completely shot-and i couldn't squat, even if i tried.
Would the French consider a block and tackle system in their loos?

Now doesn't that conjure up an image.

SH xxx

david mcmahon said...

Came here from Deb's blog. At least you were not at a loose/loo's end!!

Maggie May said...

That was SO funny! Came over from David McMahon's Blog where you were mentioned in his Post Of The Day!

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Boy, does this bring back memories of Le Mans. The exit speed from the 'squatters' in the paddock 'facilities' before the user had a feet wash was amazing!

leslie said...

When I was in France - gosh, 11 years ago - I saw the highs and lows of French toilets. In Lourdes, I refused to "go" over a hole but in Lyon, we all traipsed upstairs to see the futuristic heated toilet that cleaned itself when you flushed.
Amusing post and popped over from David's who's listed you as one of the POTD. :D

Sandi McBride said...

God save me from Turkish toilets or any of them in the Middle East...and any Airport that welcomes US or European flights should provide at the very least one sit and flush stall...I can hold it for a longgggggg time! It's the friendly thing to do! The first time I was confronted with one these hole in the floor stand on the plank toilets I burst into tears...great post...
congrats on the Post of the Day mention!

(Very) Lost in France said...

SH - a block and tackle system... now there's an idea! I shall suggest it to our village council. VLiF

David M - hello and welcome to my blog. Thanks so much for mentioning me on your post of the day. I am truly flattered! VLiF

MaggieMay - hello and welcome too. I shall pop over to yours as soon as I have caught up on all the things that Microsoft Service Pack 3 has prevented me from doing for the past week! VLiF

(Very) Lost in France said...

Fr Peter Doodes - good man, boycott the holes in the floor at all costs! Futuristic toilets eh? Are they anything like the ones they have in the UK. I'm constantly afraid that I'll get locked in and washed away with the waste! Thanks for dropping by. VLiF

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Proudly, I have only had to use a Turkish Toilet twice in France (aka "Squatter").
I do not like them, but I do agree they might be a nice thigh workout! :)
Glad to have just found your funny blog! (I lived in France too for a bit, and have a love/hate relationship with it!)

Tristan said...

I'm completely with Cassoulet Cafe on this one, nothing for the thigh muscles like a Turkish Toilet! Vive la France!