Category Archives: People

Black Plague

black friday at walmart

So yesterday was Thanksgiving, and we gathered around the dinner table and consumed inordinate amounts of meat, potatoes, sausages and stuffing, and just enough vegetables to ensure that our colons didn’t completely seize up. Because that would be bad – no-one wants to spend Black Friday crouched on the porcelain, doing a Marty Feldman, attempting to pass three pounds of impacted seasonal joy. In the process of said Thanksgiving dinner we paused to reflect on that for which we were grateful in 2014, and number one on the list was unquestionably that we would not be getting out of bed to join in the festival of crass excess and consumption that is the Black Friday shop.

I have tried to put myself in the place of those sad, overweight, invariably ugly people who you see on the news fighting their way into Walmart when the doors open; I have attempted to rationalize their actions on the basis that they don’t have much money, and they need to get the best deals they can. And I have come to the distinct conclusion that this explanation is complete and utter bollocks.

OK, so here’s point one: you know what the cheapest form of consumption is? Non-consumption. Compared to fighting your way through the store to load up a cart with two giant flat-screen TVs, NOT buying two flat-screen TVs is a dollar-saving winner every time. I started out life with no money, and now I don’t have no money anymore, but the more money I have, the less inclination I have to spend it on upgrading electronic crap which I can confidently predict will be out of date in six months and obsolete in just over a year. And it’s not like there’s anything on TV that would make any sane person declare “You know, I really wish I could see that picture, only much, much bigger, all over one wall of my house, and hear that voice in skull-penetrating Dolby surround sound. I’m off to punch some fat Hispanic woman in the head and grab a TV in Walmart.” Are you fucking kidding me? There is nothing worth staying in to watch on TV, and very little worth turning the box on for, even if you’re stuck in the house with no better options.

“What about football?” I hear you ask. Yep, I like football too. And the eleven minutes of actual action, sandwiched between nearly 50 minutes of clock running down while nothing happens, and a further 90  minutes of commercials for more crap to buy on Black Friday, doesn’t even come close to making me want to fight the chubby crowds. Apart from that you have sitcoms that aren’t funny, movies that are so full of commercials you want to break the TV, and reality shows that would insult the intellect of a cockroach. To want more of that you’d have to be – well – you’d have to be exactly the kind of certifiable moron who leaps out of the house to the Pavlovian ring of the Black Friday sale bell.

Fundamentally though, if you’re that hard-up that you need to immerse yourself in Black Friday hell to afford the things you buy, maybe you should try not buying them.

But here’s the next point. It isn’t even about the stuff people buy. I don’t believe for a moment that the people who shop those sales couldn’t afford the crap they buy otherwise. Either they’d buy a bit less or they’d pay a bit more, so it can’t be about needing to save money – it must be something else.

Here’s the pivotal question: “If a man buys a flat-screen for $99 in Walmart and there’s no-one there to see it, does he still get a bargain?” Do you think people would fight the crowds at the sales if they didn’t get to brag to their buddies on Monday “Yeah, I got two tablets for under a hundred bucks, and a 50 inch LCD TV for four hundred.” Is the real motivation the acquisition or is it the feeling that you got a deal, that you paid less than someone else for whatever shit you bought. You’re a winner because you got a bargain! Yeah!

It just beggars belief that there are that many people out there with that much desire to buy that quantity of crap, every fucking Thanksgiving, in addition to all the other crap they buy for the other 364 days of the year. But it’s all about the deal – buy it now, quickly, so you can get one over on all the other poor saps who bought it last week, and those who are going to buy it next week, because you’re the chosen one. The deal-maker. The caveman, dragging superfluous electronic shit back to your semi-detached cave so your functionally retarded offspring can amuse themselves putting their opposable thumbs to work on the X-box while your spouse paints gazelle on the wall.

I shouldn’t complain. Selling crap to people who don’t need it is what makes the world go round, or at least the US economy go round, and heaven forbid people should suddenly wake up and NOT want all that unnecessary consumer tat. We’d be in recession faster than you could say “fat people shop at Walmart”. The merry-go-round of “I need to buy shit, so I need to work, so I make shit that people can buy” is the bedrock of our whole economy. If I wasn’t at home flicking through the TV in a desperate search for something not shit to watch I probably wouldn’t even notice Black Friday. But the wall-to-wall commercials are a stark reminder that, not only are there millions of dumb shits out there, but they’re all entitled to vote. And if the Black Friday shopper is any indication as to the intellectual capacity of the American voter I’d have more luck trusting to that three pounds of impacted colon.

Reality Ever After

Mrs Bison is watching re-runs of Sex and the City, and I have to admit that it doesn’t seem half as bad as I remember it. OK, no need to demand my “guy card” back just yet, it’s not as though I’m watching it myself. How can I be? I’m writing this. No, my point is not that it got better, nor that I turned into the kind of limp-wristed, flamboyant excuse for a man that would actually enjoy it. My point is that compared to the utter crap that’s cluttering up my cable TV these days, Sex and the City is brilliant.

Do you remember when TV shows had actors and stories? Or when we had interesting documentaries, or investigative shows? Now I trawl through the channels and all I find is “reality shows”. You name it and someone’s made it into a reality show. I cannot fucking believe that there are shows out there solely about people who make cupcakes, and all the trials and tribulations of being a cupcake maker. There are shows where people compete in stupid contests to become the next top model, or cake boss, or apprentice or whatever fucking idiot idea someone in LA or NY just came up with. This is about as “real” as little green men probing your anus while whistling the theme from Bonanza.

I could go on and list all the dumb “reality” shows that center around some lifestyle or profession, such as clamping cars, being a woman cop, getting married, hunting wild hogs, giving our parking tickets, collecting scrap metal, buying a wedding dress, operating a pawn shop, having a makeover or losing about two hundred pounds of bodyweight, all of which are chock-full of completely staged situations, created to bring drama and suspense to the tiny-minded plebs watching. What really pisses me off, though, more than anything else, is the plethora of “celebrity” reality shows, centered around the kind of vacuous bullshit non-people whose only claim to fame is being famous. Once upon a time we just had Paris Hilton, but now we have the overpaid, overexposed, real housewives of just about anywhere, all prancing about like utter twats in a massive celebration of the collective stupidity of the American populace.

Unlike the internet, which allows people to self-select according to their tastes, and where absolutely anyone can find something of interest to them (farmyard porn anybody?) cable TV is all about appealing to the masses. Only by attracting enough viewers to support advertising can TV companies make any money, so they work extremely hard to make sure that EVERYTHING we see is targeted at as broad an audience as possible. We can assume that they’ve got pretty good at it by now (economic Darwinism working its magic), so we can by extension assume that the swathes of reality TV shit that they put out are exactly what the majority of the American viewing public desire. I mean, TV companies aren’t stupid.

Now we’ve reached a new low. Bethenny Ever After is coming. A woman famous simply for being on reality TV is now getting yet another reality TV show, just about how tough her life is now that she’s married and has a kid. (Makes a change from a litter of six kids, or nineteen, I suppose.) What the fuck? I’d never heard of this weird looking cow before, but it turns out she’s been on an apprentice show, been a real housewife, and also had some other show about planning her wedding, and now we’re being offered a chance to watch the next episode of her life. Jesus wept! That’s what America’s doing now – tuning in to see what this “famous for nothing” celebrity bitch is doing in her manufactured life every week.

If we could decide for ourselves which cable TV channels we wanted in our bundle you can be absolutely fucking sure that this piece of trash wouldn’t be on my list. I’m about ready to junk cable altogether, because it’s nothing but crap and cartoons.

How did we get to this stage? The great moronic mass of the voting American public is sitting down every night to worship synthetic celebrities. Now we have Kim Fatarse Kardashian (where the FUCK did she come from?) hawing herself, her perfume, her clothing, and just about anything else that you can stick a brand name on. She’s only famous for being famous, and that’s what gets paid for in America today.

You know, compared to that load of old crap, even horse-faced Sarah Jessica Parker’s looking good these days…

Copyright © 2011 Edward Bison

Join The Club

I’ve often thought that bringing up kids was the ultimate opportunity for the exercise of simple common sense. So much of what is wrong with kids (especially other people’s kids, you understand) comes down to the feckless stupidity and lack of discipline of their parents; surely all you have to do is play the game straight and everything will come out right. Right?

Well, it’s now time for Bison Daughter’s twelfth birthday, and the thing she wants most is a phone. Not really to talk to anyone, just for the texting. All her friends have phones, and they sit there on the school bus, texting each other. There’s absolutely no point to it, of course. They have nothing to say, and I cannot see the point in expending $150 on a phone and a further $20-40 a month on a plan simply so that Bison Daughter can recede into a sad world of “CU L8R” or whatever meaningless drivel it is that passes between preteen girls as an alternative to actual conversation.

It’s a no-brainer really. I mean, I didn’t get a mobile phone until I got a sales job at the age of twenty four, and that was a car phone which had some apparatus the size of a four-slot toaster in the trunk, so it wasn’t really “mobile” in that sense. Since when did it become an imperative that all our offspring have a mobile phone? Since phone companies figured out that they could sell them ringtones, wallpaper and no end of expensive and worthless downloads, that’s when.

The problem is that, shite and worthless though the phone-text traffic is, that’s the only means of communication kids seem to have now. They don’t talk to each other – I don’t believe most of them could hold a conversation if their phone depended on it – so if you’re not part of the texting network then you’re likely an outcast. No parent wants their kid to be left out; teenage girls have cruelty and exclusion down to an art form – I think it gives them something to do in between pulling the wings off insects and torturing small mammals – and being different is just an invitation to exclusion.

So much as I relish the thought of knocking down the “all my friends have one” argument with some tried and tested parental reasoning like “well, if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” I know that at some point, eventually, I’m going to break down and get my kid a phone too. Which is a sad indictment of the society in which we live, isn’t it? Parents go off to work, and spend way too many hours there, trying to make enough money to pay all the bills, including the mobile phone, while their kids sit around like little vegetables, only able to communicate at all by typing partial words and sub-sentences into their little reality-avoidance machines.

If we hadn’t persuaded ourselves that we needed all this shit in the first place we could work less and spend more time with the people we purported to love. Applying the simple principles of common sense to raising them, so they didn’t grow up to be dysfunctional freaks with social alienation disorders and an inability to relate to other humans, or cope with delayed gratification. Yeah right. LOL to that.

Copyright © 2010 Edward Bison

At The Dreupelkot

I spent the early part of this week in the Belgian town of Gent, a wonderful historic city in the Flanders region. Of course, I spent most of the time in meetings, but we did have a couple of good dinners along the way. One of the problems with Belgian dinners, as I’ve noted before, is that in upmarket restaurants they tend to last about four hours. During this time I lose all feeling below the waist, along with the will to live. This week’s dinners were only about three hours long, but even so, I was delighted to get up at the end and restore the flow of blood to my legs.

It was therefore not hard to persuade me to take a short walk to the Dreupelkot, for a couple of genevas. This place is a famous bar, about the size of a suburban living room, tended by its white-haired owner, Pol, who dispenses more than two hundred versions of the Belgian hard liquor called geneva. It’s a tiny place, already crowded with only fifteen people in it, just round the corner from the Hot Club, where they play excellent jazz. This is a place with character, just a few tables and a bar, most people standing up (because that’s the only option) and a sign asking people to use the toilet (which appears to be in a cupboard) rather than the alley out the back.

Geneva is an excellent end-of-evening drink. It’s taken neat, in small glasses which Pol fills to the brim, so that there’s a positive meniscus on each one (look it up in your kid’s science book). He has all sorts of frou-frou genevas with vanilla, chocolate, cream and stuff like that in them (which attracts drunken students) but real geneva is either clear or slightly brown, like diluted whisky. Some purists maintain that only the clear stuff is truly authentic but they both taste good to me.

Anyway, about four of us wandered in and squeezed up to the side of the tiny bar. We worked our way through five glasses, along with some blokes from Ecuador that we struck up a conversation with. Along the way we noticed that amongst the group of studenty types in the center of the room there were two girls giving a lesbian kissing display. You could tell they were real lesbians and not just two drunk girls showing off, because one of them was ugly.

The thing about geneva is that it stimulates the brain cells. It got me thinking, and I have to say that it led me to revise one of my theories about lesbian couples. I used to believe that the reason one of the lesbians is always bloke-like is that the other one really wants a bloke. She’s therefore losing out because she gets all the boot-faced hairy ugliness of a bloke, but without the benefit of a penis, necessitating the purchase of strap-ons, etc.

It occurred to me, though, that I was missing the point – it was the ugly one who was the “aggressor” and it suddenly became obvious – she knew she was a boiler and her decision to go with women had to be based on one of two subconscious drivers:

1. She resents pretty girls because she’ll never be one, so she picks them up to vicariously experience prettiness.

2. She resents blokes because they like pretty girls and not her, and so she picks them up to reduce the number available for us, thus pissing us off.

Personally I tend towards theory number 2, but in either case the implication is that the “blokey” lesbian is motivated by spite and bitterness. This would lead you to expect that manly lezzas would be bitter, moany, resentful creatures; well bugger me if that isn’t exactly what we observe in nature. Quod erat demonstrandum, as they say…

Well I’m glad we sorted that out. Now can someone pass me another geneva?

Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison

Gone But Not Forgotten, Yet

Today I’m mourning the loss of my workout buddy. He didn’t die or anything – just moved away to Tampa, the lucky bastard, and he’s been gone a couple of months already. Still, today’s as good a day as any to remember him, partly because it was leg day in the gym and I really needed someone to give me a hard time about not putting more weight on the bar, and partly because he phoned me earlier, which elevated him to top of mind.

I’ve only had two workout buddies in the last decade, and they have to be selected carefully over time. This relationship is important and not to be entered into wantonly with just anyone who shows up at the gym. Jesus, I know people who’ve had more wives in that time. Obviously the role has a couple of basic requirements – he has to be able to spot you on the heavy weights and give you a combination of abuse and encouragement so that you’ll try harder. It helps if he lifts similar amounts of weight as you, but it’s also good if he kicks your arse on some exercises and vice versa, so there’s always something to aim for.

So much for the basics – there should be any number of people who fit in that category so why are so few people suitable? Well, there are some other important characteristics:

  • Not dressing in lycra or any other weird pansy clothing
  • Wanting to work out at similar times of day as you
  • Being the sort of person that you’re happy to spend an hour or two with several times a week, that is to say with similar views on women, politics and life in general, but capable of shutting up and not talking all the fucking time
  • Happy to check out the pretty girls in the gym, but ready to concentrate when you’re lifting and you need him to spot you (we had a guy who lifted with us occasionally, when his wife allowed him out, who would be incapable of tearing his eyes away from women – you could have three hundred pounds stuck on your windpipe and he’d be gazing at some tits over the other side of the room)
  • Not coming out with crap gym cliches like “it’s all you”
  • Not embarassing you by doing lame pansy squats or bench press that doesn’t reach the chest
  • Genuinely pleased when you hit a new personal best
  • Good personal hygiene, i.e. doesn’t smell like a three week old corpse or have breath like a dog’s flatulence
  • Comes with excellent stories of sexual excess through which you can live vicariously
  • Won’t puss out of coming to the gym because his girlfriend wants to do something on Saturday morning. (Typically girlfriends will test a bloke at some point to see if they are a higher priority than his workout – it’s a control thing.)
  • Not being a steroid user
  • Not being a twat
  • Not wearing shorts so that his junk is hanging over your head when he’s spotting you on the bench
  • Laughing out loud with you at the weird fuckers who show up at the gym

I’m sure that’s not an exhaustive list but it gives you some idea why there are so few people around who you’d want to count as a gym buddy. In fact I’ve decided that it would just be easier to move to Tampa than find a new one, a decision made all the more potentially attractive by another day of wind, rain, tornadoes and generally piss-poor Missouri weather.

Anyway, the gym was pretty empty today. There was the strange bloke in the matching lycra outfit, but there was no-one to look at and communicate with one raised eyebrow the question “what the fuck is wrong with him?” The blonde trainer with the great arse was in as well, but there was no-one there to notice and let you know with just a slight incline of the head that he’d be very happy to have her stand over him on the bench and maybe sit on his face. Yep, life at the old gym just got much duller. I’m keeping up the routine, though, because when I eventually get down to visit Tampa I’m not going to be the one taking abuse for lifting like a giant puff…

Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison

It’s An Emergency


I just have to ask – is it just Americans who are complete pussies, or has the same thing happened to the British since I left? I remember when a visit to the Emergency Room meant that you had an arm hanging off, or an axe sticking out of your head. Or possibly that you’d inserted something inappropriate in your rectum and got it stuck. It was a place you only went if you really had to, and as if to encourage you in that way of thinking hospitals arranged for giant queues which you could only bypass if you were at the point of exsanguination or cardiac arrest. Nowadays people seem to trot down to the Emergency Room for what appear to me to be trivial reasons. For instance, every year that vomiting bug seems to go around – you know, the one where you puke and shit yourself empty for about 24 hours. It’s been a couple of years since Bison Daughter brought that little treat home to us but whenever it goes around you hear people talking about how they had to take their kid to the Emergency Room to get an IV.

I don’t want to sound too much like an old git but “back in my youth” my parents would no sooner have taken me to the ER if I puked for a bit than tried to teach me to fly. Puking is just something kids do (especially if, like me, they drink stream water) and I don’t recall anyone I went to school with needing to get intravenous fluids for a case of the squits.

Mrs Bison recently had a cold, a fact that she shared with another mother at the school last week. This woman had had the same cold but had gone to the Emergency Room the previous evening. For what? If someone showed up at the ER with cold symptoms I’d be inclined to send them for a psych evaluation. What goes through your mind when you’re sitting there thinking “my nose is a bit blocked up” while someone gets rushed by you on a gurney with six gunshot wounds and a bag of plasma in one arm. Or are the ERs so full of people with the shits and the flu that there’s no room for the seriously ill?

I’m aware that there’s a male bias against going to the doctor – we’d all rather risk death than show up in the waiting room with unworthy symptoms. I think it goes back to the pussy thing – you don’t want to be sitting there looking a bit shivery while the bloke next to you has an eye missing and the one over the other side of the room has his bloody stump of an arm in a sling. You feel like the doctor is judging your maleness by your ability to withstand suffering before coming in. When he says “Now what seems to be the problem Mr Smith” he’s really asking “Now Mr Smith, do you have a valid reason for being here or are you just a pansy weasel homo?” If you’re not careful you’ll respond to the subliminal question without realizing it – “I’m not a homo, Doctor, I really do have a very sore throat.”

It’s not just blokes though. Mrs Bison insisted that I get this hideous looking mole checked out because it might be cancer. I was more inclined to wait and see if it grew to the size of, say, a beer bottle top, and then worry about it. I knew if I showed up I’d feel like a pussy and they’d cut it off no matter how safe it looked, just to avoid any liability. So I ended up with a hole in me for no good reason. However, if I suggest that she go to the quack then suddenly it’ll wait for a day, or seven. Which means that she wouldn’t be seen dead in the ER for anything short of, well, death.

So if you’re one of those ER frequent fliers then maybe it’s time to take a couple of aspirin and stay in bed for a day or two before calling out the Medevac helicopter to deal with your rampant piles. Either that or stop shoving inappropriate things up your anus…

Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison

Farewell To Arms

Today I’d like to propose bringing back the death penalty for women with stupid laughs and men who wear sweater vests. This particular bout of broad-minded tolerance, while something that I would certainly still support in the cold light of day, was probably brought on by getting back to my hotel room at 10:30 tonight, after a long day, and finding a full scale house-party going on in the room next to mine. What made it worse was that the rooms were joined by those interconnecting doors, through which you could actually hear a mouse fart, and which stood no fucking chance whatsoever of muffling the peals of laughter periodically emanating from this particular group of wankers.

Noise from adjoining hotel room occupants is about number one on my list of “Things That Piss Me Off”. I phoned Mrs Bison and even she could hear the twats through the wall. I waited patiently – maybe they would just piss off on their own? Two minutes later my patience ran out. Mrs Bison was somewhat concerned that I should not be tempted to go round and inflict actual violence on the perpetrators, although it was clearly deserved. But if not that then what? Her suggestion was to call the hotel and have them sort it out but I dismissed that approach on the grounds that it would be a pussy move. Plus, the hotel weenies would almost certainly just have politely asked them to “keep it down”, at which point they would probably have carried on as before.

The other option would have been to go round and knock gently on the door, before politely requesting that they keep it quiet. That’s no good either – the problem is that I assume before even going round that they will take the piss in some way and so am already in exactly the mood that would ensue if they had taken the piss. Meaning that there’s no way I could ask them politely to do anything. Why the fuck should I?

So I took the middle way. I banged on the door and told them to shut up. This I felt was a balanced and reasonable approach. I didn’t say “shut the fuck up” and I didn’t add “cunts” to the end, although it was clearly warranted. These were whiny middle-aged, middle management type people with those annoying laughs, only you mostly heard the women laughing because of the high pitch. So anyway, they did indeed shut up, and, as a bonus, fucked off too. I looked out of my door to see what breed of wanker had caused my blood pressure to spike; lo and behold, a wanker in a sweater vest. I might have known!

I have met a lot of people over the years, in a lot of countries, and although it’s not an infallible test, you can generally assume that any man who voluntarily wears a sweater vest (i.e. they didn’t juat have the arms of their sweater ripped off by a moving vehicle on the way to the office) is a Class A Wanker. Some of my friends fall into this category so, as I say, it’s not a perfect test. (Unless they’re wankers and I just never noticed, I suppose.) Anyway, silence has now descended again on my spartan hotel room. Until tomorrow morning of course. I have to get up early and you can be fucking certain that my neighbor is getting up at the same time. Vengeance is mine, sweater vest cocksucker.

Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison

March Madness

Today I expect to go into work and be confronted by legions of twats wearing green. Yes, it’s St.Patrick’s Day again, and suddenly everyone in the US is “Irish for a day”. The flight attendants on my plane from Chicago last night were already wearing green sweaters, so clearly it’s more like a St.Patrick’s Weekend. What is the fucking fascination with the fucking Irish? Don’t tell me it’s just because it’s a big party – Oktoberfest is a big party too and you don’t see everyone coming to work in lederhosen and claiming to be German for a day, do you?

This fawning over all things Irish isn’t just stupid. Years ago, when the IRA was busy killing people in the UK, Noraid would collect money for the terrorists and their families in the US, especially in cities like Boston and Chicago. Stupid fat Americans, obsessed with the idea that because their great grandfather might have once drunk Guinness they were now themselves Irish, would stuff money in the hands of people who would then turn around and use it to kill men, women and children in England. They were “Irish freedom fighters” driving the evil English out of the Emerald Isle.

Fast forward to 9/11 and suddenly terrorism is bad. We need to have a war on terror. Let’s trace the flow of money and stop it getting into the hands of the evil Islamists. We need our English allies to stand with the US in confronting those who would use explosives and violence to try and achieve their political ends. How many people made the connection to the IRA? When the bombing of a shopping center in Warrington killed two boys, aged 3 and 12, how much of America wanted to declare a war on terror then? What about when the IRA was bombing crowded pubs, or hotels? What about the nailbombs in London? Remember them? I didn’t think so. It’s a bit different when it’s your own back yard, and your own people dying in the streets isn’t it?

It’s unbelievable how naive people are about Sinn Fein, the IRA, and the muderers, drug dealers, extortionists and thieves that wear their Irish heritage with such pride. And the whole charade was able to go on partly because it was all wrapped up in a US-friendly cuddly leprechaun shamrock green cultural fiction.

So forgive me if I’m cynical about this “let’s all be Irish” bollocks. When I see those parades of men in green it takes me back to the pictures of children dying on English streets, the killing paid for in part by stupid people over here, with their mock-Irish sentiments. Still, have a nice St.Patrick’s Day, drink some green beer and top of the fucking mornin’ to you.

Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison

Germophobes


By amazing coincidence there were two programs on the radio this week that made reference to the issue of bacteria, and where you encounter them. The first talked about a recent study of where the most bacteria were to be found in daily life. Apparently researchers went around swabbing various public areas and testing for the amount of bacteria on the surfaces. What was top of the list? Public toilets? No. Fast food restaurants? No. Toilets in fast food restaurants? No (although it’s hard to believe). In fact the top two sources of bacteria were childrens’ play equipment and day care centers.

On the other program the presenters were discussing the inordinate lengths to which they go in order to avoid contact with germs in public restrooms. This included picking up paper towels on the way in and then using them to turn the taps on and off, as well as opening the door on the way out. Presumably these are the same people who decorate the toilet seat with elaborate arse origami prior to sitting down for a shit. What the fuck is wrong with these people? If you need to take a dump in a public restroom the best policy is to get in, get done and get out ASAP. By all means check the seat for piss before you sit down but don’t neglect the more important check – that of ensuring the presence of toilet paper in the dispenser. You do not want to be shuffling to the next cubicle with your pants round your ankles, and it is under no circumstances acceptable to start conversing with any cubicle neighbours in a search for paper donations. In establishments with food available for purchase you may want to check under the seat for ketchup packets – this is a great prank unless you happen to be the one who sits down and bursts the sachets, spraying ketchup into your pants.

Once you start obsessing about bacteria you may as well walk around in latex gloves and a gas mask. Already it pisses me off if I get to the bog and find some wanker’s left-over seat decoration. People must spend minutes wrapping the paper around and draping it precisely over the seat. Then they won’t touch it to flush it away. Here’s a little reminder – the last part of the operation involves you shoving your finger up your arse crack with nothing between it and your fudge-hole but a couple of sheets of economy bog roll. After that who cares about the germs on the door handle?

Which brings us back to the first study. Spot the common thread here – places where kids put their hands are, without doubt, the filthiest and most bacterially rich environments. This is either because they spend so much time handling their private parts without washing their hands, or because they are inherently filthy beings with no sense of cleanliness whatsoever. Either way, if you’re the kind of person who is so whiny-arsed pussy that you won’t sit on a toilet seat without “protection” then you’d better not be touching your kids without washing afterwards. In fact you should probably pick up paper towels first, so you can pat them on the head without contact.

At least men stand a chance – I am reliably informed that women’s restrooms are by far worse than men’s. This is, I believe, because it is standard operating procedure for women to “hover” over the seat, a manoeuver that would make more sense if their urinary equipment didn’t function in much the same way as a lawn sprinkler. Even germophobe men will actually sit on the seat once they’ve covered it – women, it seems, are quite happy to shit from a great height and hope for the best.

The Chinese, typically, have solved all these problems. There’s no worries about the seat because there’s no seat. Or, indeed, toilet – just a hole in the floor. No worries about the door handle if there’s no door. Relax about touching the taps when you wash your hands – there isn’t any water, so don’t bother. Hands aren’t wet, so no need to touch the towel dispenser. Just be very careful if you intend to take an emergency dump. For the uninitiated it’s dreadfully possible, with your pants round your ankles, to crap in your own pocket. Now that will take more than a couple of paper towels to fix…

Copyright 2007 Edward Bison