Saturday, 9 April 2016


When it comes to the funny side of life, stuff that makes us laugh, nothing, it seems, creates a bigger comedic splash than a good dollop of lavatorial humour, so let's get straight to it. Here's a little verse that I remember from childhood. You probably do too:

Oh dear, what can the matter be?
Two fat ladies got stuck in the lavatory.
They were there from Monday to Saturday.
Nobody knew they were there.

How we used to chuckle, smirk or snigger somewhat dismissively at that simple verse - and yet on careful reflection, it raises a number of very interesting questions, don't you agree? Allow me to elaborate...

01) Do we imagine it was a public convenience that the poet had in mind?
02) Or some domestic facility? Not one of those 'outhouses' at the bottom of a garden, surely?
03) When he, assuming the scurrilous poet was male, says they got stuck in the lavatory, exactly how was that?
04) Jammed together a single cubicle? Why???
05) Or in adjacent cubicles? - caught short simultaneously by the synchronising hand of fate?
06) Because of some mechanical failure of the locking mechanism(s)?
07) Because some joker (a scurrilous poet, perhaps) imprisoned them and ran away with the key?
08) Did they not think to call out? Bang on the lavatory walls?
09) Did their families not miss them? For six whole days!
10) How did they entertain themselves? By wrapping loo paper around their combs and playing kazoo-like duets?
11) By telling lavatory jokes and writing dirty limericks in lipstick? Unlikely.
12) By exchanging their life stories? At least they were company during the ordeal.
13) Maybe they know each other beforehand? As nodding acquaintances? Or intimate friends?
14) How did they keep warm? (at night, if it was winter)? By rubbing themselves? Or each other?
15) What did they live on for a week? Okay, they had water to drink and fat reserves to sustain them - but really...! Maybe after a couple of days they were too weak to call out.
16) Were they in a location that was visited so very infrequently? Almost a public inconvenience in fact?
17) Could this have been a religious building of some denomination, only open on Sundays? No, because they were entrapped on Monday and released on Saturday...but nice try.
18) Was their discovery after those six days of incarceration just a lucky break?
19) Were they very smelly when they were finally set free? Is that really what the matter was?
20) Should we read this verse as a cautionary tale with a hidden subtext? Suggesting that everybody should carry a mobile phone these days (as long as they don't drop it down the loo)?

By the way, my sincere apologies to any generously proportioned female readers if your sensibilities have been troubled by this little treatise. Let's move on...

Shakespeare has been dead for 400 years this month and the Dead Good Blog is honouring the Bard's memory over three weeks in April with posts on the themes of Comedy, History and Tragedy. You know what it is this week!

I actually wrote the following for the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth in April 2014 but I wasn't blogging way back then, so this is its first appearance outside of a couple of open mic outings. I owe the title in part to James Joyce, an extraordinary wordsmith in his own right, who had a penchant for devising cleverly punned names, Billy Waggledagger of course being his reworking of William Shakespeare. I'm also heavily indebted to the no less extraordinary E Jarvis Thribb, spoof poet in residence at Private Eye magazine, for the style and tone of the poem - and for allowing me to mention Keith's mum in print. (Keith's mum was an ample soul in an ample body and was often inconvenienced.) Enjoy...

Ode To Billy Waggledagger
So then Billy,
Bard is it you were?
Though not Welsh as far as I'm aware.

You certainly had a way with words.
You were a lover, not a fighter,
more importantly a writer
with a pen far mightier than your sword.

Boy, you certainly waggled your cursive dagger
to good effect -
all those histories and comedies and tragedies,
comical histories, tragical comedies,
not forgetting sonnets to swoon for
penned to dark ladies and gay lords.

It's a curious fact
that you were born and died on the same day
- not literally of course,
though that had Keith's mum confused for a while.

Whatever - you were the greatest.
As someone once said - was it Marlowe? was it Jonson?
"we shall not look upon your like again"
or some such.
(The rest is silence)

Thanks for reading. Have an epic week, S ;-)


Anonymous said...

Didn't Shakespeare write "we shall not look upon his like again"???

Steve Rowland said...

Dear anon, yes it was Shakespeare (not Marlowe or Jonson) - that's part of the joke of the poem; and the (mis)quote - another part of the joke - is Hamlet's: "I shall not look upon his like again", in reference to his dead father.