Monday, 6 April 2009

Corporate graffiti?

On a trip to Newtown, wondering what to eat, aimlessly shuffling between Noodle House and Chinese Noodle House, but not really feeling like noodles, I came across this.

but vodafone is nice!

Corporate graffiti? Or exercising the right to voice your opinion in a public place?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Booze Bar and Black

Even if you haven't been to the newly re-opened Beresford yet, no doubt you've heard about its sexy curved bar, its naff wine list (organised into cheap, decent, good), and, of course, its magnificent loos.

You've heard about the loos, right?

First, a word about how I ended up in The Beresford on a Tuesday night. We had gone to The Rocks for a bit of St Pats day cheer, but found the prospect of lining up for 30 minutes just to get into the pub, followed by 30 minutes of queuing for the bar, followed by standing outside and having drunk loud amateur drinker step on our toes just wasn't... cheering. T had noticed that the Columbian served Guinness, so up we trudged to Oxford Street. Now, while technically the Columbian does serve Guinness, it comes out of a can, which is poured into a glass, and the glass is then placed on some sort of sonic device which gives the beer a head. It was creepy.

So we went to the Beresford. Which doesn't serve Guinness at all. So we had two pints of Coopers instead.

The most noticeable thing about the toilets at the Beresford is that they're dark. Very dark.

The next noticeable thing is that they're dark. And also, the hand washing area is communal. I like this. It feels efficient.

And the next noticeable thing is that they're dark. And also, they have Dyson Airblades! It's a shame that more people don't know how to use these properly. They are an absolute revolution in hand drying technology. I couldn't find a really good clip which shows you how to use the Airblade properly (it's all about pulling your hands out slowly, people! Not plunging them in again and again!), so you will have to make do with this Shiny review.

Also, they're very dark. And they pour a rather nice pint of Coopers.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Ring My Bell

Going for a walk to Kings Cross on Sunday, my pal and I found ourselves at Woollomooloo. It happens. We by-passed the (very famous) Harry's pie cart, past the (very renovated and dull looking) Wooloomooloo Bay Hotel and strolled straight into the Bells Hotel.

How this outback-Australiana-olde worlde-pubiness-pub survives in this location I can't understand. Many years ago some buddies and I drove from Lismore to Tenterfield for reasons which escape me now, but I do remember it involved a 21st birthday at the school at Mummulgum. Anyway, on this road trip, we passed through a town called Drake, a town which was so low-class backwater Deliverance scary that we wound our windows up and sped up just a notch. It was palpably different to all the other rather nice country towns we drove through. I'm not saying that the Bells Hotel is as scary as Drake - but it is completely incongruous in its location.

AND it serves XXXX Gold on tap.

My pal put ten bucks through a poker machine while I read the local Sydney City Council propaganda. The cricket was on. An old geezer took ten minutes to walk from the door to the bar and the barman came round and gave him a stool. The girlfriend/wife/drinking buddy of the barman was wearing short shorts and white sneakers and had hair the colour of skank. It was all I could want on a Sunday afternoon drinking session.

On returning from the gents, my pal said that the toilets were as olde worlde as the rest of the pub.

"Is it a long drop?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"Oh," I said. "Has it got one of those pull chain cisterns?"

He paused. "No," he said. "I guess it's just an old toilet."

Unfazed, I visited the ladies toilets. I was transported back to country towns and school toilets of my youth. Check out these awesome tiles.

The ladies toilets did, in fact, have a pull chain cistern, and also some really poignant graffiti (for 'poignant' read 'pissed').

The graffiti reads

Angelique 07
loves glamma
and goggles

Well. That's nice, Angelique 07.

Someone was so enamoured of this poem they wrote it twice.

And all the mirrors, rusted and flaked,
Are smudged with harlequin paint

I guess Angelique's friend felt the need to yell it out the first time and then repeat it quietly, sadly, looking down to her left, her hands clasped in front of her. Just for effect.

Thanks Bells. You were a lovely Sunday sesh.

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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Water Under the Bridge

It's not often I get to review men's toilets. Swanning into the men's room with a camera and asking the chaps at the urinal to smile would probably land me in an uncomfortable situation. But, hell, maybe if I were drunk...

If you walk around The Rocks, up past the various over-priced but really very pleasant pubs, right up until you're under the Sydney Harbour Bridge itself, you'll find this curious landmark.

Some schoolboys who were walking past when I was taking the photo asked what I was taking a photo of. "It's a toilet," I said. They were amazed.

Cast iron urinal beneath Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Architecture website tells me that it is a 19th century cast iron urinal. The building is doorless and holds two side-by-side urinals of reasonable cleanliness. My friend took a piss in one and it seemed to perform its function adequately.

I notice, actually, that there's only one cistern for both urinals. That seems a dreadful waste of water. But then - I don't reckon these loos get used all that often.

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Sunday, 18 January 2009

News dump

When you are an international toilet woman of mystery, you get sent a lot of interesting toilet related links. Here's a few I received this week.

How much does your poo weigh?

This device was actually designed to show people how much weight they 'lose' after going to the toilet but a secondary and, I think, more interesting function is that it can tell you how much you evacuated. Anyone who has a set of scales in their bathroom has probably already conducted this experiement - it's very enlightening :-)

I particularly like the look of consternation in the first panel.

San Fransisco toilets ablaze

A person, or gang of persons, obviously finds portaloo toilets so offensive that they have launched a major offensive against them, setting fire to 18 toilets in two months. A Google news search turns up nothing like this happenning before, which is a surprise. They do seem an easy target and are unlikely to cause extensive damage to anything around them. Fortunately, no one has been hurt. You can watch a video here.

Inauguration a portaloo extravaganza

The inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama is set to be the biggest "temporary restroom event in the history of the United States" with 5,000 toilets to line National Mall. While the toilets will be regularly serviced, I would advise anyone attending to bring their own toilet paper.

The portaloos are not without controversy. Big Dog claims that providing VIPs with flushing, posh portaloos is elitist and says that "the ones the VIPs use should be no better than the ones the visitors will use". And John Banzhaf, Professor, is using the toilet coverage to promote 'potty parity' - women take longer to pee so dividing toilets exactly in half based on gender discriminates against women, forcing them to wait longer. (Potty parity was addressed in New York with the Restroom Equity Bill.)

Man shoots toilet... and self

Fortunately, or unfortunately, this man didn't quite meet the criteria to make it into the Darwin Awards. After dropping his gun in a public toilet, he shot his arm and the toilet. I love the story for this sentence:

The fall triggered the gun to go off and the shocked man was glad he was already in the toilet.

I'll bet the toilet had it coming.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

One Water launches in Australia

A friend recently pointed out that paying $1 a litre for petrol is nothing, when in the same service station you can pay up to $9 a litre for water. Why Australians would pay so much for something that comes out of our taps in abundance practically for free is a mystery. Particularly when billions of people don't have simple access to clean water.

Bottled water brand One Water has just launched in Australia. Styling itself as Australia's first ethical water brand, it donates all of its profits to charities and says that, by simply switching brands, people can make a real difference in places where people don't have access to clean water.

One Water funds projects such as SkyHydrant, a water filtration system, and PlayPump which enables water to be pumped by using a child's merry-go-round. The idea is simple and effective, and costs are kept down by leasing advertising space on the attached water tower. This immediately sets off dubious alarm bells, and I wasn't surprised to see Coca Cola's Environmental Affairs Manager quoted on the site. However, the water towers will also host health messages so perhaps all is well.

We are a poor school….no seesaws or exercise rings like the kind most children play with. Because of our water crisis, such things are not in our budget. But now the children have this merry-go-round, and both problems are solved."
Sylvia Nkambule, teacher in Swaziland
The brand is well supported by minor Australian celebrities, such as Ruby Rose. The thinking behind the brand is that people who purchase bottled water will switch to an ethical brand. But it begs the question of the actual ethical problems associated with bottled water in the first place. It takes up to 6 litres of water to make one 1 litre plastic bottle and a large proportion of plastic bottles end up in landfill. While I applaud One Water for its ethical human commitment, I think the next step will be to ween people off their dangerous addiction to bottled water.