Have You Been?

I was acquainted with a squat toilet from a very early age. As an army brat I lived some of my childhood in Malaysia and our house came with an extension for the Chinese maid. We weren’t posh, Dad was a regimental sergeant major, and every family had a maid courtesy of Her Majesty, even lowly squaddies. It was time before the rise of the Asian Tigers and the reawakening of the Middle Kingdom when Britain still had a blue water fleet. The maid’s quarters were equipped with a squat toilet whereas our family convenience was of the pedestal variety. She used her facility and we used ours. ‘East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet’ as Rudyard Kipling wrote.

Caught Short

We were wandering through Gümüslük Bay, a beguiling little harbour set among the meagre ruins of ancient Mindos. As a protected archaeological site, the bay has been saved from the relentless march of little white boxes that afflicts that part of the Bodrum peninsula. Unfortunately I got caught short. I darted into the public convenience for relief. I gazed in utter horror at the flush ceramic pan. Oh shit, how does it work? My mother trained me to sit not to squat. How do I hover precariously over the hole with my drawers round my ankles without tipping over? I gingerly and carefully pulled my jeans and Calvins over my trainers, first one leg then the other, contorting my body to avoid contact with the wet floor. I almost fell onto my backside in a vain attempt to maintain my dignity. It was like a game of twister but with only one player. The moral of the story? Go before you leave.

According to Wikipedia an alternative name for a squat WC is an Alaturca from the Italian Alla Turca – as the Turks do. Fancy that!

6 thoughts on “Have You Been?

  1. When i stayed with Ferhats parents a couple of years again i had to wait 2 days before i could go, as they had one of the said loos. It was only when we visited the brother who lived in a lovely new apartment that i could….as they say..let go. Of an age now where i find it difficult to bend or squat for anything i have to retrain myself to go either before we go out or wait until we are near any building post 2000


  2. My mother was French, when I was a little girl we went over regularly to visit my Grandmother who then took us to visit out great grandparents. They had a tiny dark/dingy apartment on the top floor over looking the beautiful Basilique du Sacre Coeur, Paris!
    To go to the toilet you had to walk the corridor to one of these lavatorial convinces. Can you imagine the horror and how terrified this was for a little 8year old London lass. I was Convinced that I would be flushed/be sucked down the hole !!!!!!


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