Today, dear friends, I want to touch upon a marvel of American engineering. Sadly, for all of us, I’m not here to eulogise the beauty of a Jeep Wrangler or the elegant engineering marvels of the Golden Gate Bridge.
No, I’m afraid this is nothing but potty talk.
First, a touch of history.
In a strange twist of fate, however, the US managed to develop its own take on the idea in complete isolation (a fascinating story which is concisely told here)
Now, if European and American flush lavatories were two separate branches in the evolutionary tree of human waste disposal, then Europe defenitely ended up with the porcelain equivalent of the Neanderthals.
What’s strange is that toilets essentially work the same way on both sides of the Atlantic, using a siphon. It’s explained in intricate (but tasteful) detail at howstuffworks.
Somehow, though, the evolution of the American toilet perfected the method so that the siphonic effect is much, much stronger. When you press the flush handle over here, the bowl turns into a sort of whirlpool-o-death which sucks away just about anything from sight in seconds flat. You could drop a real log into the bowl (and I’m talking about hiding the evidence of some illegal amateur forestry here, not being peurile) and you probably wouldn’t have to worry…
Whereas in the UK, the toilet basically attempts to empty itself by, well, sort of half-heartedly pushing everything downwards with a bit of water. It’s achingly British in its operation (“I say old bean, would you mind, you know, sort of just disappearing into the bally sewage system for me? There’s a good chap…”), but not the most effective.
Of course, you win some you lose some. What America gains in flush toilets, it loses in electrical plugs. The flimsy excuses for conductors of power you get here are, well, comical compared to the no-nonsense, solid dependable type G plug found in the UK.
So, increased ability to remove bathroom waste vs. slight increased risk of electrocution via toytown electrics… I’m prepared to live with the trade-off, whilst being mildly cautious around wall-sockets.
And would you look at that. I managed to get through this entire piece without once directly referring to faeces.