Sunday, 15 November 2015

Letters from the Habsburg dynasty, part 3: Who is Rory?

One morning I came home to find a postcard in an envelope in my letterbox.

"Hi chucky!
I is in (Spain) Catalonia!
Milk's got the details.
I will send you more of
'Rory's life with me' later.
Meanwhile, I've contacted a
bone grinding fever from some
                             local jazz

In the envelope, there was also a poem.
Arthur, you sent me a poem! From Spain!
I liked it so much that I read it out to Loaf.
Loaf said it wasn't a poem, it was a Samuel Beckett play.
Then we named one of the pillars in the room we use for the workshop after Rory.
Here is your poem, Arthur.
Here we go.

Rory! Where are my shoes?
They're faking it
in the rain.
Getting deep fried,
in baby oil.
Rory, it is spring,
isn't it?
Still is.
I am tired of potatoes.
Rory, where is my car?
You sold it to the cab driver.
Alright, RORY.
I'll go get my
... YOu sold it wiTH THE CAR
RORY! Where is the DOOR?

Rory, I feel better
Are you with me?
Rory. Why do you
sleep so
Rory, where is my hat?
Behing the mirror.
The Grocer is holding
them for you.
Rory, where is my brush?
You've not used it
for a while...
ThankYou Rory.
Where is it?
It's become part of
a pigeon's nest.

.¦. Your drink
is in your hand.
Rory, do I make you worried?
Is the street wet?
We can't see the street
from this balcony.
Do you like my pension,
We like everything
We will set off in the
After a long
just as YOU like it.
WHAT I like.
are you willing
to go,
As far as the next room.


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Letters from the Habsburg dynasty, part 2: King of the Fractal Corn Forest

Here we are, then! The long awaited second letter makes its public appearance.
Dutifully I had replied to Arthur's first missive, describing my recent dalliances, but the fact that my letter is not mentioned in this second instalment of the Habsburg saga, put towards the news that Count Arthur has moved residence, makes me doubt whether he ever got to read it. That being as it is, I cannot call this a reply, but only what it is: letters part 2.

[transcript start]
"Guten Tag Liebe Chucky,

I have a strong feeling that you are doing
fine, because I'd had a dream that
you have acquired a stern, pear-shaped
dog, with a good straight nose, and cubism-eye,
and that he is sublime at looking after
himself! His name is eleven and he
does not allow you to wash the dishes
and can generate smells spontaneously
for himself to follow, dragging you behind
smoothly along the raspberry jam rails
you wear a dotted dress and (your)
lipstick is on (your) cheeks! You cry,
'eleven! eleven!', and he responds by
making his tail into a rainbow!
You have lots and lots of fun, even though
you both know, that only one of yous will
live as long as the seaturtle!
I want to start by declaring that I
am the King of the Corn Forest!
And I say forest, NOT field, for
a field is someplace where one plays
ball, whereas a forest is a fractal being!
Now, you might say that for a citizen-
grasshopper, or a fellow citizen-ladybug,
a grassfield, or a patch of green I
periodically trodd upon on my way to another
space-time, instead of following the gravelpath
which a consciencious citizen-human ought to do, is
as much a forest as anything. And you might

I cannot even attempt to analyse this dream-adventure Art describes to me. But I do now feel the pressure of having to acquire, by any means necessary, a pear-shaped dog, and to send pictures by mail to Warendorf, Germany as proof.

What I do wish to draw your attention to, however, is Arthur's sudden and consistent use of a Royal vocabulary to refer to himself. Note that he is no longer just the Prince, - the nickname I have myself used several times when referring to him - no, he has now ascended, in his mind at least, to the rank of King. King of the realm he now tries to explain to us in elaborate and cumbersome words so as to cloud our understanding of the world in general.

[page 2]
be right, as it does seem to follow the
fractal conception. However, what (?!)
in this case, is a field for your regular
citizen grasshopper, or his fellow citizen
ladybug?! Anyway, you must forgive
my ignorance in considering my kingdom
as being located in the quintessentially
full-bodied-spectrum level of fractal
existence as it is merely, and
innocently rooted in my general's limited
power of conquest and the unwillingness
of diplomatic reach!
All I can say is that my current staff
are hereditary pillars, while I have been elected
by the wind and the stars and the
cracks in the pavement.
As any substantial monarch I do not
reside where I rule. I have been put up
in a permanently temporal residence on
Marktplatz, second floor, a building to the
right of goldmerchant Ferdinand Wessleman's
shop, that is always closed, overlooking the
market square. It is a cake to behold!
I cannot see the cornforest from there, but
I can see buildings, like giant high-fives,
with a few extra fingers with mosaic veins.
When I moved in, the flat consisted of
floorboards, evenly laminated with historic
dust, wall capsules and ceilings that I
still lose sight of. There was a single
dim lightbulb in the vertically disproportionate
bathroom, hanging like a man who hung himself

An elected monarch?
What would a fractal cornforest look like, the editor ponders...

[page 3]
with a rubber rope. Now I have a washing-
fridge with a square-spin action and a
freezing-dryer that runs on KRAUT.
Piece by piece I'll acquire a spot-lightbulp and
my many fans. Meanwhile, I am building another
floor, so as not to disturb the historic dust.
But soon, maybe even by the time you open
this letter, I will have finished the act of
the carpenter and with swollen hands begun
a new play altogether"

     SEnd me pictures of your DOG!
                                     [address redacted]

One wonders whether the ancient dust at the gold merchant's neighbouring flat might have contained some residual flakes of hallucinatory agents...

[page 4]

I do hope my mustard poem
had survived the reappearance
in another space-time continuum,
But since I have no certainty in
that, here is a dip-free poem:

Ship me your purple toenails,
And a matchbox full of rain.
I have found treasure with a toothpick,
It lays me off from being sane.
A street of hay inside my kitchen,
A bat-like hob that lays an egg,
I eat the silhouettes of friction,
And drink the moisture off my leg.
My cat is privatizing sunshine,
While I invest in Northern lights,
My retrospective is abundant,
My hats are not of heights!
I Am a gentleman from now on,
Unless I meet some nervous limbs,
which use their mouths for spitting yellow,
And wear min crowbars on their chins


And until next time.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Letters from the Habsburg dynasty, part 1B - The Glooey Poem Fragment

Having received a second letter from M. Arthur de Habsbourg only a couple of days ago, I feel it is high time that the poem which accompanied the first letter - now half-lost due to excessive glueing on his part and careful (but not careful enough) tearing on mine - should see the light of day.

So please, find here the words I could decipher out of the typewritten, mustard-yellow stained rag of paper, channelled onto said medium by Herr Habsburg's brain, likely inspired by a state of both emi- and immi-gration, travelling in the company of Cat the cat, quite possibly disturbed, confused, and/or intoxicated, which I have attempted to represent, as always, as faithfully as possible, for you, in your life:

     One day I got home toolate,
    And then had to leave tooearly,
   You know the feeling. 
   But I don't.          One slow motion blink
                                               in Rue de la Blunt.
  Vacuum between me and the taxi driver,
Vacuum              behind me and the crude shimmering
                    yellow lamposts
               Away,                away,
Into the flight.
Wh at man can do cat can do
           BUY ME BUY ME
                      And then have SEX with me
                            Like you own me.
Where is your flight?
What is your cat?
Is that your final destination?
Now show cat to my dog-


Hello EveryOne,
I too have wondered
Why everything smelled of must(h)ard.
And why Flintstone Fred still markss the lines on the road.
Smooth had been the (end) name of the game
Since 1919 ADBC AMPM.

Smooth is the Father of the mother
    And they live in a hut

                       ON THE CONTINENT
Every Mng is polished,
Especially the cemeteries.
Every th i ng is here,
Whaiting for the other to ########


Letters from the Habsburg dynasty, part 1: The organ-soul-communication-apparatus

Dear Readers, 
You may not know this, but quite recently, my friend, percussionist extraordinaire, lapsed aristocrat (we suspect) and, last but not least, fellow Mekanic, Arthur T. Habsburg, emigrated to Germany.

A triptych of Lord Habsburg from the rear

"Hello Chucky, ..."
Somewhat saddened by this fact which I learned just a few short weeks before his departure, I requested that he write me letters of his adventures in the country that I myself abandoned some years ago. 
Cut to 11th Septermber 2015. It had been a very long while since I last came home to discover a letter wedged in my postbox that I could not immediately guess the sender of. Maybe I should have inspected the stamp more carefully, but the temptation to rip it open straight away was stronger. 

And there it was, accompanied by a strange-smelling, jauntily laid-out typewritten poem that I have not yet managed to unstick from itself: The first installment of the soon-to-be-infamous Habsburg Letters, sent from Arthur's new, temporary home in Münster, and written by hand in his very own unmistakable vernacular, which I now present to you, transcribed in full and unedited:

[transcript start]

"Hello Chucky,
I write to you on day seven, and when I
say that I am breaking into Heaven it will
not be merely for rhyme's sake! All is good!
Münsterland is awesome in the original, not
overused sense of the word! It's a happy
Pretzel land. Rows of Hanseatic houses, 
ancient trademan's HQ, pocket size towns,
all surrounded by massifs of agriland, well off
farmers, wide cotton trousers, 'I am the emperor
of the cornfields' type, bouncing on street corners
in their super-mario tracktors! And all wear hats
and get burried in them. And the air SMELLS, but
is not polluted
I live with my relatives (1+1(8/12+7/100) in a house
that I dreamed I build for       kleine kinder   myself
but I may not ever be prepared to make the 
neccessary sacrifices (Lounge area, bathtub in
the bedroom, music in the bathroom/kitchen/every room,
subwoofers under the couch, automated blinds,
and sauna and cinema is (still unfortunately for me) under
construction). Cat still gets lost in the house 
and contemplates our situation in dark corners. 
We speak in a mixture of three languages, and
I am still afraid of the children.
On second day I bought a bycicle (Conrad) that
comes from the golden era of the bycicle family
(still unspoilt genes, no inbreeding or mental disorders)
and is very well maintained, making it hard not to
indulge in the stereotype regarding ze Jermans
and zeir mashinz. I pimped it out with a 
Japanese speedometer, that has now, unfortunately, 
stop working. During his short life he recorded overall
tracking distance of 127km. He has no name"

[page 2]
"I am yet to say anything about beer, {NOR will I} because
it is so commonplace in my system. I'd rather
talk about gloom as there is no grain sand
of it here. But nor shall I do that. BECAUSE
No condition is permanent!
For the first time in some years I feel
positevely happy (without pharmaceutecal stimulation),
without the feeling being grounded in any
form of achievement. It will not last.
I am still an alien, but the air smells
And I only miss weed when baby-Tv is on.
(Mad shit! Imagine if all TV was baby-TV,
as opposed to degenerateTV).
On Sunday I went to Lamberti Kirche
for Orgel Nacht. FULL HOUSE (was God
there?...) I came early and sat on the 
praying bench discreetly sipping southern comfort
(inappropriate choice of drink, I know) and
reading Isaak Asimov's essay on heretics
(complete coincidence). The concert was
in three parts plus bonus:
1.   Man-on-birch-mini-organ and 
Okay, but I suffer from gigantomania.
2.   Sameman-on-building-size-organ-soul-
Review: Jetpack for the mind, goosebumps
behind the ears and in places I did not know 
I had skin. Only the Santa Barbara made
me think of a staged sunset in Malibu

[page 3]
"3.   A (German) Choir (singing English religious songs)
  Review: -----------"-------------------
A 1926 silent film Faust with
improvised accompaniment from Sameman-
Review: Best of the Best.
The whole audience applauded Sameman for
NINE minutes straight! (And I am pleased to
say that that is longer than Kanye was dipped
into after his 'running-for-president' 'speech'!)
On the way back I encountered a distant
thunderstorm of Zeus-in-parties magnitude.
The emperyon was being zipped here and
there many times across, with glorious purple
afterglows! And it was total silence! As that was
a silent film project of gallactic HD quality.
Zip and glow, zip and glow. I stood in a 
field for an hour like a scarecrow realizing
the celestial power.
That day I've spent four hours in a 
place of worship, which is by a long distance
my record (my bedroom does not count here..)
And the clarity of mind I got from it was
unique. I now endevour to do my thinkings
and writing in a church, and use the bedroom
for only going-to-the-toilet purposes."

[page 4]
"Yesterday, a man (Frank) came to fit
in a (second) toilet and we got to talking.
He said, Hey, do you wants to come play
fußball, Ich spl sp bin in ein club? Hast du
shoes? I said yes. It's been 8 years
since I played in a club. He put my bike
into his van and we drove off to Ervinswinkel
(20km). I thought I'd die in 20 mins, 
but I lasted the whole two hours and at 
the end they wanted me to join. The all 
speak German and I try to soak it in. 
Frank invited me to a party next weekend
where he said we would smoke some ............
I said maybe, but it certainly is a dillemma. 
I just came back, with no legs, driving
20 km down interstate bikelanes laid 
thru cornfields in the dark with a 
faulty light. Tomorrow i will buy 
sportsgear and not forget to post this.
    How are your undertakings?
And how is everybody?


   Attached is a poem gone glooey!"

[transcript end]

I will be soon be composing a detailed reply to herald the start of the Liverpool side of correspondence in this matter, and to request further writings from Prince Arthur.
The poem remains yet to be examined in more detail - a transcript/analysis may follow.

Chucky x

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Fear, Success and Taking Sides: Living in The Future of The 90s

The 90s: Brtain was a nation divided into Mockneys and Mancneys, Sports Casual was the dominant youth culture and everyone you met was either from Manchester or East London, even if they were from Surrey or Stoke. All of them seemed to be on some sort of nose dessert, even the ones that were deeply offended by that sort of thing.

Britain was becoming politicized, or polarized. It was all about taking sides. The English Elite - politicians, pop stars, media icons famous for simply being, were defending the Best of British 60s Mod Culture (conservative, drug-fueled, nationalistic, elitist), against an uncertain future of illegal drugs, Tory Rule and elitism. Erm...

Sports Casualties

In many ways, they succeeded. We're living in a future where even Labour are Tory, where Sports Casual is once again the dominant Youth Culture and the counter cultures - the Post-Punk, the Gothic, the Retro Rockers and Electronic Greyscale are populated by the best of the bourgeoisie.

Even that staple of Brit culture Doctor Who is back boldly gallivanting about the British universe in hip Modish clobber with women several hundred years his junior. Now that's what we call success!

Doctors Matt Lowe and  David Tennant

Once again, working class children won't be going out and getting ideas above their station by experimenting with higher education, unless their parents can afford it. That's one way to ensure that only the brightest, most intelligent people get the best opportunities. Erm...

You are safe because you are living in a future where your enemies are clearly defined: disabled people, poor people, single parents, asylum seekers - the weak, the needy, the humble: people clearly responsible for the state of this country, as opposed to the people that have all the power and resources.

They are people who have failed to succeed. It's not that the system has failed to meet their needs - because it's not the job of the people in charge to actually care about you if you can't take care of yourself. It's only fair. So fit in or fail.

Every decent British person knows: success is everything. And hard work is the key to success. Just look at all of the people born to wealth, they're so successful they don't even have to work at all!

Inevitably, as we look to strengthening our own national identity through arts and culture, immigration becomes the hot topic of the day. Everyone is understandably worried about all those people coming over here from all the places we bravely invaded or helped defend us from invasion, taking up all the jobs that decent honest hard working English people don't want to do.

Because they're not like us: they worship in places that are different to the churches we don't worship in, and they are taking homes from the poor English homeless people (that we suddenly seem to care about but still work damn hard to ignore). There just aren't enough new homes being built.

The million of existing uninhabited properties in Britain don't count because they're old and far less money will be generated by allowing people to inhabit them. Plus, they don't pay their taxes - you can read all about it in the right wing tabloids, edited by good honest successful men who don't pay taxes because they're hard working enough to have foreign passports. It's the English way.

Don't get us wrong, we're passionate about our cultural diversity, providing it's celebrated by well-educated, heterosexual, properly Cis-Gendered, Christian white people, obviously.

But our 90s future is creatively strong: everyone you meet is in a fun little Afrobeat band or an arts collective or putting on events and running workshops. Plus, these people are really passionate about transforming those quirky old venues into quirky luxury homes for needy bohemians. They just want to give something back to the most successful elements of the local community.


In the 90s, Oasis were particularly successful (popular) because they fulfilled the establishment's fetish for over-confident working class men with big mouths. They love a bit of rough because the confident working class person is exactly the kind of thing the upper-class should be afraid of.  So it's important to tame them by celebrating the dumbest, most easily controlled and recuperated manifestation of that.

Oasis fitted a well-established stereotype and the image and music were easily recognizable (familiar, safe, marketable) to anyone between the ages of 6 and 76. They weren't even the best of their kind. There must have been a dozen or more arrogant Dad Rock bands in bowl haircuts, Christmas jumpers and saggy jeans in every town in the country at that time.

Blur were similarly plucked for success because they fulfilled an equally familiar cliché: the vaguely arty but ultimately harmless middle-class rebel. Equally safe, equally marketable.

Blur : The Bee Gees to Oasis's Savage Garden

When the music journos (celebrating good old fashioned cultural binaries) set them up as warring factions - they were indulging in the same old nostalgia and fetishism of The Beatles versus The Stones, The Sex Pistols versus The Clash, Take That versus West Life, or Elvis versus Baby Jesus. It's great for business. Even people with no interest in music were obliged to have a preference.

West Life: The Clannad to to Take That's Weezer

The industry was doubling its money by suggesting taking sides was somehow akin to national service. As if choosing one thing you have no relationship with over another thing you don't care about will in someway validate your existence, save the planet, or defend Britain from Evil.

The idea that you are making some essential political decision in choosing sides was a total fiction: The Beatles were just as equally clean-cut and laddish as The Stones; The Sex Pistols were perceived as art-school despite being working class and hopelessly under-educated, The Clash were art-school and very well fed (hell - Joe Strummer was an upper-class hippie!). And it was certainly never really about class war was it? Blur were as popular with working class people as Oasis were with middle-class students.

The more middle-class, privileged Stones, Clash and Blur played up to the working class stereotypes the industry was fetishizing over. Rebellion and youth culture were mere spectacles, pornography rather than the real thing.

The Shamen: E's a Drug

For better or worse, there were a myriad of 90s bands embracing a broader spectrum of music from the past (Pulp, The Happy Mondays, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, The Stone Roses, Elastica), sounded vaguely contemporary (The Prodigy, The Shamen) or even genuinely innovative (Aphex Twin, Autechre, My Bloody Valentine). 

The Happy Mondays

And people embraced these acts equally, if not more passionately. But all that tech-savvy, drug-fueled, Sexual Questioning stuff was a little bit too un-British, a little bit too Marxist for the establishment.


Today, Oasis are a distant memory, sitting on shelves and dusty external drives. Like Titanic, War of The Worlds or 'Haunted Shortbread' by Stephen King, you'll find a Best Of in almost every home. They sound like they sounded then: safe, overblown, vaguely irritating, something your grandparents would like.

Blur revealed themselves to be the old-school upper-middle class men they always aspired to be become: schmoozing with Tory MPs, running farms, validating themselves as more than mere pop musicians by jamming with black people and members of The Clash, writing operas.

Take That's Robert and Gareth

Both bands, like their real contemporaries Take That, Robbie Williams from Take That and The Spice Girls - will ultimately be forgotten. They cling to life now only as a form of nostalgia - because they always sounded like the past.

The Spice Girls: Mel Baby and Mel Orange

My Bloody Valentine, Autechre and The Prodigy didn't re-invent the wheel, but there is still something vaguely other-worldly and futuristic about their sound.

If the key to success is to play it safe, to recreate the sounds of the past, then success dooms our culture to a slow death. There are only so many times you can copy a copy before the degradation become irreparable and the meaning and intentions of the original are lost.

In the 90s, the idea that choosing sides, between Rock or Electronic music was equally unhelpful. The reality was that the best of the bands from both camps, and everything in between were just as much influenced, motivated and interested in both.

By creating these false choices, the establishment - whether in the form of a corporation, a magazine or a political party - merely keeps us all that little bit less empowered, by keeping us distracted and divided.

Next time: Negative Romanticism, Radiohead and The Art of Faux-Depression

Gilbert and George
If a performance artist started going on about England and our culture like that-in fact that's happened to Gilbert and George... It seems to me that (American) artists can talk about flags and America and all this… you can play such a close game with them without anyone being offended. - Rob La Frenais

Thursday, 13 August 2015

I have a headache

This is the cat that owns the entirety of Ventnor Road, Wavertree.

Hardly anyone knows that this creature alone controls who may access the road and who may not.

Like a guardian at the gates, it sits - a power immeasurably greater than mere human strength. But there are no gates here.

Do not yield to the images inevitably flooding your mind, images of an aggressive animal scaring people off its territory by physical means - for this being is far more cunning.

Ventnor Road may appear on maps, and it may exist in the actual world based on scientific evidence. People live there, after all.

But not everyone can actually see it. 

If you are persona non grata in the eyes of the Cat, then you will drive, cycle, walk, even saunter past Ventnor Road without registering its existence. Hence, you will not use it. Ever.

It will be there, but your brain will not allow you to see it.

Worse still, if you start looking for it, the blockage becomes more extreme, and your vision may become blurry, or even black out.

It is therefore not advisable, if you have not used this road before (and are therefore accepted), to start looking for it now. Serious health issues may occur.

Then again, I'm not seriously worried that you'll use Ventnor Road against the Cat's better judgement.

Because how can you use a road you don't know exists?

Monday, 13 July 2015

Liverpool is my cousin

The sky was spotty on the day I decided that Liverpool was my cousin. Matted, dotted, ruffled. Rippled. Stippled. Like a light drizzling of rice pudding on a sky-blue plate.
It was a long day; it had lasted almost a week at this point already. I had just discovered my second ever friendship toilet and was extremely excited by the idea of this mode of relieving oneself in the company of a friend becoming a veritable trend in the city I had learned to love. 

The thought of performing pieces of my mind to a public audience had been occupying the edges of dreams and the fringes of possibility. To this end, I had attempted to organise some words of fiction in a paper-bag-brown notebook. But everything that dribbled onto the pages in red ink was a semblance of the actual truth and not at all fictional enough. Truth not in a sense of a lesson to be learnt or a moral to be taken away, but truth in a crude sense, in that all the words on paper were also words in my mind.

Around the middle of this week-long day I mused that I might need a different canvas, and broke several pencils attempting to pen poetry on one of the walls enclosing my modest back yard.
Two days later, when the evening had finally arrived, the black lines on the back of my hand seemed to suggest that sleep was indeed a viable option.

Whilst I was furnishing my night-water with ice, however, I suddenly realised that the word bedtime had become increasingly meaningless over the last week or so (was it still just a day? I could no longer be sure), prompting me to stay sedentary in the back yard on a wicker chair that pressed its intricate pattern into the backs of my bare thighs.

A whole week later, the day was still ongoing; the sky refused to turn dark and instead alternated pleasing shades of pink and red in a display I was quite sure was intended expressly for my viewing pleasure.

As the world started to fold in on itself, I realised I had ceased to be the centre of my own universe, and that I may just end up outside of the fold. The gaping abyss slowly and appreciatively swallowed up chunks of the city, and the only group that could be seen to be paying any sort of attention was a drove of passing fire extinguishers. I think I even heard some applause as two tiny streaks of dark blue finally crept into the darkening sky, and it was only then I decided that Liverpool was my cousin.

The End x

(All photos by Chucky)

Friday, 29 May 2015

My Favourite Toilets

"These are the most interesting and dirtiest walls in Derbyshire"

A public toilet (also called a bathroom, restroom, latrine, comfort room, powder room, toilet room, washroom, water closet, W.C., public lavatory, lavconvenience, loo[1]) is a room or small building containing one or more toilets and possibly also urinals which is available for use by the general public, or in a broader meaning of "public", by customers of other services.[1]
Pictured: a private bathroom
(for the purpose of comparison)

The public toilet is a deeply interesting place. I carelessly like to assume that no one really has a particular fondness of public bathrooms. But they are a necessary evil when you are not within the vicinity of your own home-based private bathroom, or indeed, a friend’s, acquaintance’s, or arch enemy’s inside outhouse.    

For this reason specifically, I decided a while ago that The International Cheese-Fries Review should rise to the challenge of reviewing a handful of Liverpool City Centre’s public bathrooms. Being of a female persuasion and as the sole researcher in this venture, I have to apologise in advance for the fact that I was only able to sample the respective locations’ ladies’ rooms; and thus, any evidence I can give will necessarily be heavily skewed and biased. Whilst I am apologetic about this as mentioned just now, I am also revelling in this state of affairs for absolutely no reason whatsoever and to a perfectly ridiculous degree.

Public toilets are typically found in railway stations, schools, bars, restaurants, nightclubs or filling stations as well as on longer distance public transport vehicles. [1]

As you can see from the above, public toilets are clearly social animals. This goes some way toward explaining why they can usually be seen hanging out in groups.

With a modest sample size of 6 locations, my extremely limited selection (please take note: 3 of the host properties, that is: half of the sample size, are situated on Hope Street), most of which can be illustrated and underpinned by completely useless pictorial evidence, will surely make for a highly scientific review and is sure to have a great impact on the academic and political community both locally and globally.

However, please rest assured that I have personally visited and used all of these toilets at least twice (i.e. a minimum of 2 (two) times) in order to account for variances in weather, air/water pressure, alignment of stars as well as myriad other factors which may impact the rating of said shithouses.

Here, then, are my findings, arranged in order of oh-who-even-cares (bathroom selfies are to be viewed with caution and at your own risk):

The Pen Factory, Hope Street

At Hope Street’s Pen Factory, the Ladies’ rooms – if you can stretch to calling them that – will strike any visitors as somewhat basic and makeshift. So much so that I am still uncertain as to whether this is in fact more of an art installation than an actual bathroom (which would explain why I always seem to find myself alone in these particular facilities). Paper-thin wooden boards separate potential lady urinators from one other, while the floor displays generous stains of unknown origin.
There is a certain charm to this rustic simplicity, however. An added benefit is that you don’t have to walk through the actual bar/dining space to access the toilets, so you are able use them at your leisure without anyone asking questions. And isn’t that something we all really want in our lives? To not be spoken to when we go to do our business?

Overall rating – 7/10

The Philharmonic Pub, Hope Street

I have heard many people speak fondly of the lovely toilets in the Phil, citing them almost as a tourist attraction of sorts. Although I’m fairly sure that this was always in reference to the men’s rooms, which I have not been able to see to this day for reasons cited in the above introduction. In any case, the female sector is way above average for what you expect from a pub toilet – fresh flowers especially are a nice touch. But then... the pub in question is the Phil, so I would never really have expected the floors to be flooded with wee or anything. The only negative point I can think of is that the air sometimes seems a little stuffy. For that reason, I may not be able to move in after all.

Overall rating – 9/10

Marks & Spencer (Mahrks n Spahrks innit), Church Street

This one is standard department store fare in terms of lavvies – bonus points are awarded for efficient hand dryers (the type that you have to stick your hands in vertically downwards) – but this IS Marks after all – as well as the warning sign on one of the cubicles which informs the attentive reader that the door upon which it sits opens outwards (shock!). Health and Safety reigns supreme in this country and M&S is clearly its proudest stalwart.

Overall rating – 6/10

The Everyman Theatre, Hope Street

The washrooms at the Everyman are very stylish indeed. It’s almost... too much. They are: colour coordinated, industrial, and crisp. Just look at the pictures. It's everything you could ever want from a shitter, really.
Seriously, though: The taps and hand towel dispensers are fitted with sensors so you don’t have to touch them (but of course you do anyway, if you’re me, and adopt a slapping rather than a waving technique). I don’t feel good enough for these toilets. I'm currently in talks with the proprietors of the building to negotiate an assured shorthold tenancy on this particular restroom, but to be honest, I don't think I stand a chance.

Overall rating – 9.5/10

Debenhams, Lord Street

About as bog-standard as they come. Not enough confusion.

Another boring, standard, but mostly clean department store lot. I have to give minus points here simply because someone else is always in there with you. Obviously, the location can be found too easily by the general public. It must be too obvious, too well signposted – although you do have to walk past the tiny-children’s clothing section to get there, which may well prove disturbing for some unwilling or unwitting (non-)customers.
With regards to these premises, I am planning to petition for a maze to be implemented over several of the store’s floors which would take even the most shrewd of solvers roughly 20 minutes to complete before the sweet relief of bladder-emptying may begin, in order to ensure exclusive use of these premises for myself only.

Overall rating – 5/10

The Met Quarter, Whitechapel

I found the toilets at the Met Quarter shopping centre to be surprisingly large and spacious, and thus somewhat reminiscent of an expansive set of public toilets I once frequented at Manchester airport around 11am on Christmas Eve, when I believe I was the only person in this farm of about 50 cubicles, which immediately made uncouth possibilities come to the very front of my mind (It was Xmas after all. I didn’t follow through on any of these inappropriate ideas, but I have fond memories of that day nevertheless). The Met Quarter’s loos are posher than those at MAN airport; also, and this is a good thing, they are somewhat hidden away and only accessible by an elevator, so for the first-time visitor a sense of adventure is included in the price (which is a handsome £0.00 to the penny)! So why don't you go there next time you're in the area and have a posh pee. Go on, treat yourself.

Overall rating – 9/10

*UPDATE: Special bonus contender:*

The Kazimier, Wolstenholme Square

Well, isn't it always the way that you find the very best thing only after you think you've concluded your studies in a satisfactory manner.
Here, then, is the best thing: I like to call it "The friendship toilet". Spotted in the legendary Kazimier's ladies' rooms (whether it is the Kaz that is legendary or its ladies' rooms is for you to decide), this toilet displays an uncomfortable and yet exciting lack of boundaries and ensures you can still chat and hold hands with your bestie even whilst weeing to your heart's (and bladder's) content.

Overall rating - Out of this world

At the end of my exhaustive review, let me just say that if you were looking for a winner of this competition - there is none, despite what the numbers may suggest. As the saying goes, all's fair in love and toilets and you should go out there and find the one that works best for you.

Nature calls x