What started as a “Hey, I need a break. I wonder what funny stories are on Fark today?” moment has turned into a descent into porcelain madness.
Perhaps it’s the recent adventure in plumbing I had or the girlfriend’s occasional bouts of gastric distress (The Redhead and I have a favourite catchphrase: “Toilet time is private time!”), but lately toilets have been a recurring theme in my life.
Fark points to an Associated Press story on Singapore’s initiative to make sure that you always know the answer to Steve Buscemi’s question in Reservoir Dogs: “Where’s the commode in this dungeon? I gotta take a squirt”…
The city-state is publishing maps pinpointing its 500 cleanest public
toilets in its drive to wipe dirty lavatories off the face of the
island, an official said Thursday.
The toilet maps will indicate the cleanest and best-equipped restrooms
for the benefit of tourists and shoppers, said Jack Sim, a founding
member of the Singapore-based World Toilet Organization and president
of the Restroom Association of Singapore.
Singapore started rating public lavatories in its “Happy Toilet”
campaign last June using a five-star system similar to that used to
grade hotels. A “Happy Toilet” is one that’s rated three-stars or more.
The maps will be available free at the international airport and
information counters by August, and shopping malls whose restrooms
don’t yet qualify will be encouraged to upgrade so that they can be
included, Sims said.
“If retail operators could use this as a competitive tool, it would
help raise the standards of toilets in the country,” Sim said.
“Shopping centers with well-facilitated loos will win the trust of the
The tightly controlled island nation of 4 million people is well-known
for its behavior improvement campaigns targeting gum chewing, spitting
and people who don’t flush toilets.
It may seem like yet another symptom of Singapore’s obsession with the
control over the minutae of life; after all, they cracked down on
gum-chewing and spitting as a measure to keep city streets clean.
However, anyone who’s had to use a public restroom in China and Hong
Kong knows how difficult they are to find — the Chinese take “toilet
shame” to a Woody Allen-esque degrees of neurosis. Once you find them,
you wish you hadn’t. Imagine “the worst bathroom in Scotland” from the
movie Trainspotting, and you’ve got a good picture of what many toilet stalls there are like.
(That’s one thing I have to say in favour of McDonald’s restaurants and
globalization: their worldwide presence, coupled with their
I was intrigued by the fact that there were not one, but two
restroom-related organizations in Singapore. “Restroom Association of
Singapore”? And even better, the “World Toilet Organization”, whose
initials must annoy the hell out of the better-known WTO.
I did a little Googling, and it turned out that the World Toilet
Organization not only has a web site, but this “toilet seat from the
Even better, they’re having a summit in November! No word of a lie, here’s the promo blurb from their site:
Yes, the emphasis on the phrase “movers and shakers” is mine, but they did
use that phrase without any trace of irony, and put in all caps. I’m
still wondering what sort of person becomes a KEY DECISION MAKER or a
KEY OFFICIAL for toilets, and what kind of qualifications one needs.
The World Toilet Organization has toilet campaign posters which you can download.
If you want the high-resolution files from which you can generate
poster-size prints, be advised that they’re charging the ridiculous
price of US$50 for them.
The fun doesn’t stop there: the World Toilet Organization commissioned an anthem. In keeping with Chinese Toilet Shame, it’s titled The Secret Garden, and you can download a .zip archive containing an MP3 recording and some explanatory notes.
It’s rather unlike an anthem, as it’s a lounge-y number done in jazz
waltz time and sung by a chorus. Imagine a Sergio Mendez/Brazil ’66
cover band waxing poetic about the commode.
Here’s the full text of the notes that came with the song:
SECRET GARDEN OUT IN THE OPEN,
SOMEWHERE MY HEART RUNS FREE,
DEEP DOWN BURNING, FOR EVER YEARNING,
WHERE I CARE FOR, NATURES THEREFORE
TEND TO YOUR EVERY LEAF,
PRIVATE MOMENT, SECRET GARDEN
IS WHERE MY HEART RUNS FREE
Lyrics & Music to Secret Garden composed/arranged by
Song sung by
The CITY HARVEST YOUTH CHOIR, SINGAPORE
Theme of the Song
Our Private Moments in the Secret Garden
In our rushing-here-and-there society,
we hardly have private moments to ourselves.
The Toilet is a Secret Garden where we can be alone
quietly with ourselves, and our spirit can run free.
Going to toilets are natural behavior and we want to care for it because it tends to our needs, and yearning.
We need to open the subject and
pour ourselves out to improve it
It’ll be a delight to know that there is always
a nice toilet go to whenever we need it.
Its our aspiration that the Secret Garden is always there
Purpose of the Song
To initiate a collection of many more toilet songs and
popularise them into albums for sale
We welcome contributions from our www.worldtoilet.org visitors
WORLD TOILET ORGANISATION
HOPE YOU ENJOY LISTENING TO THE SECRET GARDEN
Believe you me, it’s not my heart that runs free when I’m on the crapper. And don’t even get me started on the “deep down burning / forever yearning” couplet.
It’s all like a highway accident — I want to look away, but I can’t!