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New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters Association Inc

New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters
Association Inc

Latest News / Leah McFall has a sinking feeling... about bathrooms

Leah McFall has a sinking feeling... about bathrooms

10th November 2019 - STUFF

OPINION: "Check this out," my husband said. He was back from Japan, a bit jet-laggy, and flipping through his phone.

He'd filmed the toilet in his hotel room. Stand down, all other countries. The Japanese convenience cannot be bettered.

Operated by keypad, it opens by itself, warms the seat lid, plays music to deter embarrassment, aims jets of water in significant directions according to your perspective, gently blow-dries your undercarriage and, for all I know, pats you on the shoulder when you lose a semi-final.

"I'm more interested in toilets than is usual," says Leah McFall.

I can't tell you how impressed I was. It made me reflect on the long sweep of human history, and how much we, as a species, love trying new ways of evacuating.

I'm more interested in toilets than is usual. My Dad was a plumber before he retired, so you might say bathrooms subsidised my younger existence. There's nothing Dad doesn't know about pipework, heating, ventilation, drainage, wastewater treatment, and the statecraft of Winston Churchill.

Most plumbers relish the past. If you like history, then consider plumbing, because bathrooms are as good as carbon-dating for identifying the year you live in, and the cultural age as well.  

You can immediately date a bathroom by its sanitaryware – an unsettling portmanteau, which basically means the toilet and sink – and its colour scheme. Nobody calls decor a colour scheme any more, mind you. They call it a visual idea.

The visual idea of the 1970s was Avocado. The 90s favoured Fame, with Hollywood lightbulbs around the mirror. And I think we'll remember the 2010s as the Age of the Subway Tile.

Anyway, back to Dad. He helped me make a 3D model of a Roman toilet for my fourth form Latin class. I remember building the little long-drop, painting the water channel that gushed past the user's sandalled feet, and gluing together the sponge on a stick they would've used to dip in the running water, before wiping themselves. I'm telling you, those were happier times.