Tuesday 18 December 2012

Dream of Sugar Plums

In days of ole
When knights were bold
And toilets weren’t invented,
They left their load
Along the road
And walked off so contented

I woke up before the alarm this morning thinking about a book that I received for Christmas a number of years ago. It was called “How To Shit In The Woods”. I have no idea why I would wake from sound sleep thinking about a book that is essentially an instruction manual for taking a load off in the forest. Quite frankly, I don’t want to remember the dream sequence that led to this particular thought.
The book deals with all aspects of this unpleasant but necessary topic. It wasn’t too many years ago that all of mankind had this rudimentary knowledge. The book covers technique, how and where to dig a hole, what to do when you can’t dig a hole, diarrhea, how women can pee without filling their boots, feminine funnels and wilderness alternatives to toilet paper. I am sure that I was given this book as something of a joke, but it is really an informative and enlightening font of information.
Thankfully, in this day and age, we are seldom out of walking distance from clean and sanitary facilities. The modern toilet is credited to Sir John Harington who came up with the concept and first working prototype in the 16th century, not Thomas Crapper as we would all like to believe. You really have to go out of your way and have lost voluntary control of your bodily waste functions to need the information in this book if you live in a city.
 Thomas Crapper
I was caught a few times when I was a mailman, and there were a few times when I was backpacking when this kind of information was invaluable. I still get beads of cold sweat on my forehead when I think about the time I had to walk a half mile to the nearest toilet, taking two steps at a time and clenching my butt cheeks together after every step.

I remember once when I was hiking the West Coast Trail I had to make use of the inter-tidal toilet (beach) in the worst way. There was nothing but beach as far as the eye could see in either direction, so I took off my pack, dropped my shorts and squatted on the beach. Even though there was no one for miles around, I developed a kind of performance anxiety. There was no way this was going to happen! It was silly really, but I eventually had to go into the forest and brace myself against a tree. I don’t know why I felt that way; perhaps fear of a rogue wave or the desire not to get crabs. I just know what eventually worked.

I hope that tomorrow morning I wake up thinking of breakfast or things that I need to get done before Christmas. With any luck I will dream of sugar plums…