This article is a sordid journey through a bloke’s book group, a designing for collateral damage in the WC and Shakespeare.
Bill Bryson put us straight and apparently contrary to widespread misconceptions, Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. He did, however, do much to increase the popularity of the toilet, and developed some important related inventions, such as the ballcock. In The Mother Tongue Bryson spends a few pages on Shakespeare and the 1700 or so commonplace words he simply made up such as: hot blooded, moonbeam, barefaced, gloomy, undress and salad days. He also had his less marketable efforts; ‘kickie-wickie’ as an affectionate (?) term for a wife, and boggler for one who hesitates.
My bloke’s ‘sort of’ book club is one without the books. Over 10 years we have discussed topics including Meyers Briggs, cooking, poetry and the movie Bon Bon. Recently a session on language encouraged parties to bring along a ‘made up word’ and promote its worth. The winning word was to be promulgated by usage. We thought we could ‘do a Shakespeare’ and the test would be if the word bounced back, road tested into our laps. The new minted word was ‘Splurine’ which purports to describe the oft spotted nuisance splatter surrounding many a domestic pan. Our word donor had previously had higher ambition. He had vaingloriously hoped that one day to unravel a medical mystery or have a syndrome named in his honour. Sadly it looks as if he is stuck with ‘splurine’ instead.
This is a column about design and the theme is why has no one come up with an anti splurine device; a work-a-day domestic urinal. In November 2013 the BBC reported on a group of physicists from the American Physical Society who fired coloured water at various target wc pans at the normal velocities. Micturition still a messy business the y said. The physicists, led by Prof Truscott at “Splash Lab” summed up their conclusions by “The closer you are the better”. Following on from this dictum if a wall hung porcelain bowl is deemed appropriate for a Michelin Star restaurant why not use one at home. It could be as small as a compact basin, adjustable, combined by design with your current sleek back-to-wall or merely a carefully crafted slot to allow for the vertically challenged. As the Prof says proximity is the key. The curse of splurination can be cured, the house mop-person and women’s slippers spared into the bargain. We don’t really need our men folk to become German ‘sitzpinklers’ ie men who sit down to pee. This is a plea for the ‘whizz kids’ from Villeroy and Boch or Caroma to design a purely domestic device. If they would like to drop by for a coffee and a chat I have some thoughts.
The real subplot however of this article is to introduce the reader to the word splurine. For my part I have dutifully right-clicked and added splurine to my own Word dictionary, please do the same. Good luck little word.