Other Fun Things

Tissue Issue – A Look At Loos

Photographs by Mike Vickers

Feature Photo Above: And then there were two. Urinals have been disappearing all over town. Police are asking anyone with information to come to the station at their convenience.

This collection is a little bit different to most of the others I’ve published on mickvicktravels.com. I’ve gone out on a limb here. Strayed outside the (thunder) box. This meticulously collected album explores a subject known only too well by every single person on the planet, but is seldom discussed in polite society.

I’m talking about toilets!

Don’t worry, I haven’t gone over all Peter Wyngarde on you, but let’s dwell for a moment on looking at loos. A cludgie contemplation, as it were. A perfunctory peep at pissoires.

For a start, let’s get one thing straight. We all, without exception, automatically review every new rest room we use for the first time. We can’t help ourselves. Think about the occasions you’ve been out with a few mates to a new venue. The person with the most irksome bladder should be heralded as the true hero of the party, the Christopher (or Christine) Columbus of Crappers, the one who, through urinary urgency, is compelled to wander off to determine not only the location of the conveniences for the entire group, but also to offer up a pithy review on their return. These can vary from, ‘Yeah, absolutely fine, clean, but with a disturbingly overpowering whiff of WD40,’ to a less than encouraging, ‘Grubby, no paper towels, a bit 1970s,’ and occasionally, the truly terrifying, ‘Have you made your will?’

Different nations have their own expectations and offer a surprisingly wide range of designs. The most technically sophisticated toilets are from Japan. Everyone knows that. If you want an automatic post-poo mechanical buffing of your arse cheeks, Tokyo’s your destination of choice!

One would also expect other advanced countries to follow suit, but this isn’t always the case. For instance, many German loos have a shelf moulded into the pan designed to intercept your most recent offering, thus enabling a close-up and personal examination. Frankly, I find that a bit strange, but it appears our Teutonic cousins have a long history of contemplating their own doo-doos, for whatever reason. On a trip to Dusseldorf many years ago and resolutely unwilling to participate in this national obsession, I discovered just how much of a contortionist you had to be to avoid the shelf.

So what, you may ask, originally started me down this particular path of photographing thrones? Well, it all began with a visit to a really classy eatery in Cheltenham back in 2019. I excused myself and visited the rather swanky loos and on returning, enthused about the ultra-modern urinals, observing they were an example of form over function and really only suited for use by extraordinarily thin and unfeasibly tall gentlemen. The ladies in the party were intrigued, so I returned to take some snaps to show them what I had just encountered.

That was my inaugural foray into the arcane world of restroom photography. I quickly became a Crapper Snapper, and from that day onwards, have been regularly recording the good, the bad and the ugly on my travels.

Right, let’s now have a peep at Turkish toilets. These vary widely in quality and, it has to be said, the vast majority of conveniences in the tourist areas of Western Turkey are surgically clean and have replaced the old squatters with European-style flushing pedestal toilets, making for an altogether much more relaxing experience, but it wasn’t always this way. I once almost expired from asphyxiation in a horrific public WC in Karaçulha on the outskirts of Fethiye, but now I can breathe easy as it’s long since been demolished.

Be assured, there’s no need to be afraid of reading on as this article concentrates only on the arcane, the entertaining and the quirky. On the whole (yes, pun fully intended), Turkish toilets no longer deserve their traditionally fearsome reputation, but I’m really happy to report many still remain cheerfully idiosyncratic in design. With that in mind, I’m proud to present the first edition of Tissue Issue. I was going to call it BATCRAP – the British And Turkish Convenience & Restroom Aficionados Periodical, but don’t worry if you’re unable to get your head around that – it’s just a fancy name for a Loo Review.

Right-ho, time to gird your lions. I actually typed ‘loins’, but once again got auto-corrected by a spellchecker that has no knowledge of early 14th century vernacular English! Those embryos in Silicon Valley should hang their heads in shame…

The original photo that started the ball rolling. This fancy urinal looked great in a cool eatery in Cheltenham, but I deemed it only suitable for tall, thin men. I did not qualify on either account then – and you’ll be happy to hear I still don’t today!
Not to be outdone on the style front, how about a golden throne for your new villa overlooking the bay. Fethiye has definitely come a long way since we first visited in 1996.
Classy cludgie in Hisarönü. When you’ve finished ogling at the poster, you might notice the urinal is actually mounted on a door. Which opens!
Seen up country, high in the mountains. It was chilly outside, hence the radiator. Um, heat rises, if I recall my schoolboy physics, so why is the radiator next to the ceiling? Only the top of your head will benefit from its unusual positioning.
Traditional squatter. These are still to be found everywhere. Normally, they’re spotless, but this one was in a tea house, so is frequently used and it was also a rainy day, hence the muddy footprints on the floor. The tap and jug are used to flush the pan, so when you’ve finished, you fill the jug and swill appropriately. On entering, you often find the jug already filled, courtesy of the last considerate visitor. I love that. I’m definitely a jug-filler myself.
Truly hideous salmon pink toilet in Rhodes. I particularly liked how the owner has put a lot of thought into the ready use toilet roll storage facility.
Seen through the window of a bathroom shop. Exactly how drunk would you have to be to buy this? The colour is pretty loud, I think you’ll agree, and I don’t know anyone who has a rectangular bottom. Personally, I find these so-called stylish square toilet seats uncomfortable, being blessed with traditionally rounded buns.
Just to show you how good it can get, these modern shopping centre conveniences were bright, stylish, florally fragrant and absolutely spotless.
Classy cludgie in horrid pale blue with a really cheap plastic seat. Note the clamshell pattern cistern. This one has been modified with a manually operated arse washer, but the metal nozzle has been bent off-centre so your starfish remains untouched while your right testicle is pressure hozed to surgical cleanliness. A bit of a shock for some, but immensely enjoyable for others – if you like that sort of thing!
Stand at the urinals in this public loo down by the seafront park in Fethiye and this is what you see if you look right. That’s a lovely view across the bay. Conversely, the poor people strolling along outside have an entirely different view if they look in your direction…
Doesn’t look like anything unusual going on here, but this was without doubt the highest urinal I’ve ever attempted to use. Definitely a ‘lift and lob’ job, but even up on tip-toe, it was still touch and go…
… whereas at the other end of the scale, this rest room in Eğirdir had the lowest ceiling height I’ve ever encountered. I’d love to tell you I’m a lean, mean six-foot love machine, but I’d be lying on every count. I’m actually a shade over 5 ft 5 inches tall, yet even I had to stoop slightly to access this loo. Michael Jordan would have to crawl in on his hands and knees.
Toilet condom.
On the Eastern Express train to Kars. This was the diminutive size of the loo – and with the train constantly swinging around bend after bend, a good aim and total concentration were required. All in all, a very entertaining experience.
By far the coldest toilet I’ve ever used! This public convenience was in Kemaliye, an isolated town located deep down inside the Euphrates gorge and surrounded by bleak snow-clad mountains in early January. This was the view out of the window as I stood in front of a squatter trying to fish out an extremely shrunken and reluctant appendage through multiple layers of thick winter clothing. While wearing gloves! To add to my fumbling discomfort, there was actually no glass in this window, but to be honest, I don’t think that would have made much difference. Jeez, it was freezing!
We came across this spectacular and imaginative tap in Kalkan. Hot water cascaded down a trio of stainless steel gullies into the wash basin. The pebbles were added for extra interest. Pity the owner’s imagination didn’t extend to solving their toilet roll storage problem.
Don’t ask!
Seems to be a surprisingly common occurrence.
One of those parallel mirror moments where you can see into infinity. And beyond!
Elmali, and here’s a rather swanky squatter.
A really lovely WC in a local restaurant. Classy tiles and cleaner than a NASA satellite workshop.
I love using this public loo in the town square at Dalyan because of the cloudy sky ceiling tiles. If you actually want to see the real thing…
…then there’s no better place than the loo at the Belmuar Restaurant on the Elmali road north of Kalkan. This is has to be one of the best mountain panoramas you’ll find anywhere. That’s a 10,000 footer in the distance.
Always makes me chuckle. This is not just any loo, this is a Marks & Spencer loo.