Sunday, 28 October 2012

Taking the Piss.

 She-Pee link

Through most  of humanity's existence, the act of voiding waste was far less secret than it is now. A hundred and fifty years ago, most streets were pretty much open sewers running with stinking waste. It was relatively recent that privacy became a general requirement. 
The rapid expansion of cities during the 1800s brought the problems greatly to the fore. London had sewers long before that, but they were..... inadequate. 
Paris and London had 'cloak-men' plying their trades. For a half-penny, the cloakman would shield you from view, whilst you did what you had to do, upon the street.
Then came the great reformers of plumbing, Joseph Bazalgette, the man who designed a totally new sewer system for London saved more lives than all the medical pioneers of his age put together. 
That aside, our cities are still under-served by public sanitation. And people still pee in the streets. Men are the worst offenders, after a few drinks too many, but women are not blameless, by any means. The problem? Alcohol makes you pee copiously, but often the desire to do so does not occur until you've left the premises, and then, no business welcomes people who just come in to use the toilets, public facilities are frequently vandalised, filthy, and abused, so maintenance costs are high, and cities close them rather than shoulder the running costs.
Some cities have tried to address the problem with these portable urinal stalls. The ones here are deployed in Amsterdam, but cities around the world now use similar ones, especially in the peak tourism/festival season.
(On a personal note? Argh! No way would I, could I use one. Gak! Put a wall around it!)....

However, a couple of weeks ago, I visited the railway museum in Darlington, which makes a museum exhibit of its old toilets. And I found Victorian forbears of these modern devices, which are uncannily similar, just not moulded out of plastics.

(The Stockton-Darlington Railway was the first public passenger-carrying railway in the world, though my home town was ahead of it when it came to shifting coal.)
Posted by Picasa

Yesterday's Clouds.

Snapped out of the car window, these clouds appear to be 'lenticular clouds', not as clearly defined as some, but quite at odds with all the other clouds in the sky. In the most distant one, you can see a slight convex trail of thin cloud both before and after it. I understand these clouds are most often formed where a mass of moist air is pushed upward over a mountain or ridge. These? well, they seemed to be travelling toward the south-west, and the last big range of hills they'll have passed over would be the cleveland hills, or the North York Moors. 
Usually clouds are travelling approximately eastwards here. (Lower Wharfedale).

Posted by Picasa