Monday Morning Musings

Posted on May 3, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Any port in a storm. A “Hurry Tent”

(With thanks to GW)


Potty talk.

If you are offended by the delicate subject of human waste, then you’re shit out of luck. Go and do the Soduku or the New York Times crossword puzzle.

“Oh my god. The stress of teaching in the north has finally gotten the best of Len.”

No subject has been untouchable over the years in this space. I have talked about menopause, how to launder bras, love, death, heaven and hell so why wouldn’t I tackle this one?

Those of you who took the time to read my Thursday post (here it is know that I spent a full day out on the land and frozen lakes on an ice fishing expedition. Part way through the day the call of nature came. I needed to pee. Our students were all engaged, lying on the ground with their heads peering into the fishing holes carved out of the ice by an auger. Now, I wasn’t embarrassed and concerned at all because, let’s face it, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Sometimes you’re out on the land or a large bay and there is no cover. No big rocks for privacy and no trees! It’s not a big deal. You just wander off and pee. On this day, the weather was perfect , and the temperature was zero. I was able to remove my parka and slip down my heavy duty skidoo pants. There was also an outcropping of large rocks close by so that I could be discrete.

But… what if you don’t have cover, and your business is more serious and urgent… and it’s -50? The phrase “freezing your ass off comes to mind”. Removing a Michelin Man outfit with your bare hands would be problematic enough. I will ask somebody and get back to you.

I am aware that when people go camping (in tents), they carry a “honey pot” with them for people to do their business. The Armed Forces coined this term in the 1940s. It’s military slang for a makeshift toilet. I almost forgot to add the letter f to makeshift!

Speaking of the military, a retired army friend of mine (I’ve actually never met GW but we correspond regularly) sent me some stories about missions in the north. He told me that they used a “Hurrytent” designed by Alex Tilley, as their portable toilet. Apparently the tent could be deployed very rapidly.

I grew up with indoor plumbing ,so it was a bit of a surprise when I first went to out cottage in Bayfield as a young boy and discovered the wonders of an outhouse. It was called “The Half Moon Hotel” and yes, I remember a large edition of the Sears catalogue sitting close to the hole by the wooden seat.

Many years later when I was teaching in Northern Alberta, I was visiting a friend who would be considered a “back to the lander”. She had no electricity or running water. It was a bitterly cold night. Her outhouse was a good 100 yards from her house. Nature called (1&2)That’s as close as I’ve come to literally freezing my ass off.

I hadn’t thought much about toilets for the next 50 years or so until I travelled to India 5 years ago. On one of my first days there, I went to use the bathroom in my host’s home. To my great alarm, there was no toilet paper. I saw a contraption attached to the toilet but didn’t know what to make of it. Luckily, I had some Kleenex in my pocket. When I inquired about toilet paper, my host said, “What do you need that for?” I quickly learned about Indian toilets and the hose, and adapted, as one must.

My first experience of a toilet on an Indian train is covered in my book about my time in India. In brief, I had to go badly. The train was hurtling along, bobbing from side to side. I was rather horrified when I entered the bathroom and saw a hole in the floor and next to it a small sink. It didn’t look like the maintenance crew had done an hourly cleanliness test. I removed every stitch of clothing and put the pile into the sink. I did my business, got dressed again, washed up and went back to my seat rather shaken. I later discovered that at the other end of the car, was a modern North American style toilet.

In 2019, I took a leisurely stroll (713km) across Spain. One of the hostels that I stayed in had the tiniest toilet stalls that I have ever seen. Honestly, I had to enter sideways. There was barely enough room to sit down. Anyone bigger than me simply would not be able to use this bathroom.

So, there’s my take on toilets.

Do I have a preference?


Have a great week.


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