Beyond nature’s call

2012-03-09 08:02

What is the thing that your average person uses 25?000 times a year

– and will also ultimately spend nearly three years of their lives doing?


Yep, it’s the little boys’ room, the loo, the WC, or the bog.

Whatever you want to call it, you’re going to

spend much of your life there.


If you are going to be anywhere that long you may as well make it

as pleasing an environment as possible.

Unfortunately, some public toilets are a

crap experience, in more ways than one, but many are adequate, although

basic. Then there are the few that you want to visit even if you have no real

pressing need to use
the facilities.

In Cape Town there are a few you might want to put on your toilet

bucket list. The unisex bathrooms at the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! on the

edge of the Cape Town city centre, for one. Each of the five cubicles is

designed around a different theme, and they definitely get people talking.


Funky design elements appear throughout the hotel. The brand is

known for its décor quirkiness – like the shark cage lift and the coughing

(smoking) room decked out with coffins – but the bathrooms are the cherry on


the top.


The great American jazz singer Lou Rawls is reinterpreted as Loo

Rolls, one is walled with corrugated iron, another is papered with vintage news.

Perhaps the most disconcerting – especially if you know the people in the

photograph – is called Stage Fright, where you will go about your business under

the many watchful eyes of hotel directors and general managers.


In the Long Drop you can gaze out through scaffolding over the

city, photographed when the hotel was under construction. If Stage Fright lives

up to its name, then so does Temptation. The gorgeous young man on the wall has

a strategically placed towel and no one can resist lifting it to have a sneak

peek. But be warned: a buzzer outside will alert everybody to the fact you have

done so!


Lots of places around Cape Town have smart, elegant and stylish

bathrooms, but it seems most of the best ones are found in hotels, like the

sparkly, creamy luxury of 15 on Orange Hotel.


The fish tank that separates the men’s urinal from the passing

public at the Grand Daddy hotel in Long Street is another well-known talking

point. And no, you can’t see anything you shouldn’t, even if you stand on your

toes. Not even if you jump a bit.


Good, bad or ugly, we can thank Sir John Harrington, who invented

the flushing toilet for Queen Elizabeth I in 1596. He was originally barred from

the Royal Court for spreading smutty stories, but after his invention, he was

allowed back.


It’s a good thing he wasn’t around two centuries later when King

George II of Great Britain died falling off a toilet.


King George wasn’t the first monarch to fall foul of the commode.

King Wenceslas III of Bohemia was murdered by spear while sitting in the

garderobe (medieval loo) way back in 1306, and even earlier than that, Edmund II

of England succumbed to natural causes in the outhouse in 1016, although some

report he was stabbed in the bowels.


Many modern-day celebrities have come to a rather undignified end

while seated upon the throne, including one of the most famous kings of all,

Elvis Presley.


On a less morbid note, the humble toilet has risen above its

functionality with great aplomb. They have been crafted from 24-carat gold,

studded with gems and given as lavish gifts (Ben Affleck to Jennifer Lopez, for

example). Getting a vacuum cleaner for your birthday is bad enough, but a

toilet? Darling, rather put the diamonds in a necklace.


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