PC 55 Male Waistlines

If you’re female, you don’t need to read any further; of course, you may want to?

We’d had a small supper party the night before. It was an autumnal meal, fairly simple yet wholesome; bruschetta, roasted vegetables and salmon, and apple & blackberry crumble. Oh! And custard – because you can’t have crumble without custard! What follows are thoughts that flew around the inside of my empty skull in the early morning, about 0415. I could not get back to sleep and had to write them down. To do this, I put my bedside light on, apologising to Celina for doing so. On other occasions I have come into our living room and, having poured myself a small glass of orange juice, scribbled half-asleep by the light from the open fridge door. It’s always curious to discover if any of these dubious pearls of wisdom are readable in the cold light of morning; only you can judge the content!

You may recall my rather immature descriptions of feeling bloated in PC 28 ….. “ … I felt like one of those large rubber bouncing balls, with two large hand holds, that children can ride on. “Bounce! Bounce.!” ….. except I had feet at the other end ….. just the middle that was so bloated. Puffer fish pump themselves up when confronted with danger. That was exactly how I felt, like a Puffer fish!

My tummy felt full, as I imagined it would be if pregnant; it was stuffed up under the ribcage! There was a photograph many years ago of a supposedly six-month pregnant man, wearing a godforsaken sweater, advertising the Family Planning Association? “Would you be more careful if it was you that got pregnant?” ran the subtext. Well, in this early morning, that’s me! I needed a pee. I got up and sleepily walked to the ensuite; I had somehow to get my huge tummy in so that I could stand over the loo. A chum of mine once said that one of the problems of developing a belly is that you can’t see your willy! And despite what you girls think, we need to! OK! You can do it by feel, but there’s something very necessary about a visual. One sees it in public loos. Chaps unzip or unbutton and bend forward to make sure it’s ….. still there? … hasn’t got caught up in your knickers? … ‘out’, so that when you pee the output goes where it should? These are all legitimate concerns for us men; well, certainly for me!

I’ve always thought that my behind was a sensible size, in proportion to my body, as it were, not too big and not too small; shades of Goldilocks and the three bears huh? Well, all this Bikram Yoga changes your body shape, so much so that my bum has become quite small – at the same time as my tummy sadly has got, er, larger. OK! I know there is a tendency for male waistlines to grow larger from middle age, but my centre of gravity used to run down through my spine. If I leant forward the body adjusted to a different centre – or you fall over, forwards or backwards. But now, with an expanding stomach in front, and a shrinking bum er behind, you have to lean a little backwards to maintain the centre of gravity. However I greedily attach myself to the belief I read in some well-respected medical magazine that taking Statins, as I do post-heart bypass, encourages the intake of some 10% more calories than I need –so straight onto the waist line! Nothing I can do about it then?!!

Carly Simon’s 1972 song “You’re So Vain” always runs around inside my head! In fact the newspapers only this week reported she’s admitted that one verse refers to Warren Beatty. So not me then! Am I? Vain? Since my tummy’s got bigger, I hate walking past a shop window and seeing a reflection of myself. My military training, so many years ago, had taught me to stand upright: “Neck in the back of the collar! Mr Yates Sir!” Sergeant Cameron screamed two inches from my face on the parade ground at Sandhurst. Now worn-out neck vertebrae prevent this. “Who’s that old man with the pot belly? Oh! God! It’s me!!”


The growing tummy has an effect on my clothes obviously. At what point do I give up trying to pretend that I still have a size 34 inch waist and recognise that even I am not immune to the ravages of time (you hear the personal disbelief loud and clear in these words?) But it would mean taking quite a few clothes to the charity shop so there must be another way? Currently, by the end of the day, the waist band of my knickers has been folded in two by the tummy pressure. The measurement Body Mass Index comes to mind, as well as that ratio waist to bum. If your bum’s getting smaller and your waist bigger ….. er …..

One of the causes of my tummy getting bigger could be water retention. We sweat so much in our Bikram Yoga sessions, about a litre and a half, that the body adjusts by carrying more fluid, in preparation; otherwise you could get dehydrated quite quickly. You might also think that all this Bikram Yoga should give one a ‘six-pack’, so there would be no possibility of developing a middle-aged spread. We certainly do some 14 double sit-ups in each session, and yes, there was a hint of one some years ago, but sadly I suspect now that the weight of my tummy has crushed it ….. or maybe simply buried it!!

Of course most people tend to lose weight when they are going through the dying embers of a relationship. I say ‘most’ people because some binge-eat to cope with the sadness. The converse is certainly true; when you are in a loving and fulfilling relationship …… you put on weight. Maybe my growing waistline is simply a reflection of my wonderful life with Celina …… and I should not worry at all? Pass another piece of coffee cake please? I climb back into bed ….. and the dreams restart.

“I had a dream.” Ah! Yes! Now, can I read what I scribbled?

Richard – 21st November 2015 – richardyates24@gmail.com

PC 54 The Loo

Some subjects are so dry it’s difficult to get worked up about them, but my PC about loo paper brought back many memories for my readers, some good and some hilarious. So popular was this PC that it’s inspired me to go the next step and scribble about the actual loo.

Some of you will have visited ancient castles or manor houses in England where the ‘loo’ was a little seat in a turreted corner of the bedroom; an improvement from the portable box! From the outside, the turret overhung enough for the ‘drop’ to clear the stone façade. Some years ago there was a TV documentary series in the UK, trying to take a new look at old designs: one was about the loo. The design of the loo doesn’t seem to have changed much in more than 150 years.

There are many words for this receptacle for our daily waste. Whilst this list if not definitive …….loo, toilet, lavatory, ‘long drop’, khazi, WC (short for water closet), the crapper, the Dunny, the ‘restroom’, bog, the ‘ladies’ or ‘gents’ in a public environment, the facilities, the white phone, latrine, the John, little room and privy.

Funny how words become part of our language. Take ‘crap; possibly a verb and certainly a noun! It’s been around since the C17th referring to waste, but not used for bodily waste until 1846. But the word only became well known thanks to a Victorian plumber, Thomas Crapper. He was extremely successful in manufacturing bathroom fixtures and had a Royal Warrant. So ubiquitous were Mr Crapper’s toilet bowls, with his name written on the rim, that American servicemen stationed in Britain during WWII coined the phrase “going to the crapper”!


Thomas Crapper (1837 – 1910)

I do remember potties under the bed, but was shocked by this story, told to me in 1975 by a female newspaper reporter who had covered the kidnap by the IRA of a Dutch industrialist in County Kildare. Traced to a small village called Monasterevin, the siege attracted the world’s press, who had trouble finding somewhere to stay. My chum eventually found a house that offered the share of a bed (!) …… but was horrified to find that under the bed were emptied beer bottles ….. full of urine!

I am indebted to Paul for sending me this photograph, the latest design of ‘pissoire’ used by men at the Spa motor racing circuit in Belgium. He couldn’t find the female equivalent although you can buy a female ‘P EZ’ funnel on Amazon!

loo 2

I wonder at what point the rocket-nose-shaped ‘pissoires’ take off?

Back in 1968 I chartered a small 19ft yacht for a week’s sailing in The Solent on the south coast of England. On board was fellow Gunner Gerry and two girl friends (note that this is girl …. friends and not girlfriends!) joined for the weekend. Braganza was a very basic sailing boat, with two small bunks and a little gas stove – but no loo! This doesn’t present a problem if you’re a bloke, but for members of the fairer sex a bucket placed below on the cabin sole of a moving/shifting/lurching sailing boat does not encourage the natural flow of things! On the Saturday evening we moored in Wootton Creek on the Isle of Wight …. and I have a very vivid memory of these two girls rowing the little pram dinghy ashore to find a proper loo. The speed at which they were rowing was possibly indicative of the urgency of their quest.

I remember painful experiences at boarding school. If you wanted to go to the loo before breakfast, you had to go before the breakfast bell sounded. After that, you were simply not allowed to go, irrespective of how desperate you might have been. I really to this day do not know what aspect of social behaviour I was meant to learn? If you need to go to the loo, you need to go to the loo – simple!

If you were camping in the 1960s and 1970s you simply took a shovel and walked off to somewhere where no one could see you. Cousin Susan writes: “…. Then there was the loo paper in Egypt and one small town in particular…..a hole in the middle of the floor, no loo paper and no doors so we had to get our friends to stand in the doorway so passers-by could not see us performing our acrobatic ablutions. My thighs were mighty strong in those days!”  Benedicte has similar memories of loos in China today – but would rather forget them! In the Army the camping arrangements were more formal; the Royal Engineers dug bore holes (should that be bored bore holes I wonder?). If it was cold it was OK, in this hessian-encircled latrine; if hot, the flies ensured it was not somewhere you lingered.

My stepfather loved smoking his pipe, particularly when mowing his wonderful lawn … but also, and sadly for the rest of us, when occupying the small downstairs loo. Part of his morning weekend routine, I guess, attempting the daily crossword in the paper, sucking on his tobacco-filled pipe and attending to nature … all at the same time. The little room needed a quarantine notice on the door for at least an hour afterwards.

Mind you, it isn’t necessarily your own loo experiences that are worth writing about. Jeremy Clarkson, a man made famous as much by his Top Gear TV Motoring programme as his ability to call a spade a spade, has a column in the UK Sunday Times. After someone complained of their hotel in Turkey, his weekly column was full of his own experiences, including this: “Certainly I cannot forget the converted old sheep station in the uplands of Bolivia. During my stay, I was woken one morning by a cleaner who entered my room without knocking, shuffled past my bed with a mumbled ‘Buenos dias’, went into my bathroom and took a noisy dump (slang for ‘going to the loo’!!) before shuffling out of the room with a frankly insufficient ‘gracias’”

I have always remembered a story that did the rounds one term at school; written on a grubby piece of paper it told the story of the confusion that arose between the use of WC for either ‘Wesleyan Chapel’ (Named after John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church in the C18th) or ‘Water Closet’. This being the C21st, I ‘googled’ it (That must be a verb by now – ‘to google’?) to get the story correct. It hasn’t lost its amusement after 50 something years and is reproduced in full below.

Celina’s father would sympathise with Paul who, recalling Bronco loo paper, wrote:  “Bronco was absolutely useless of course but then I have always detested loo paper of any sort, as it is just not up to the job (so to speak)! Every house I have ever owned has had a bidet and I would find it uncomfortable now to live without one.” Maybe he should try the combined loo/bidet; choose your music/scent/temperature/softness/air …… and away you go!

This PC seemed to go on and on; sorry! I normally try and constrain myself but seem to have suffered a bout of verbal diarrhoea with this one! Enjoy the scribbles!

Richard – 8th November 2015 – richardyates24@gmail.com

  1. There was a little old English lady who was looking for a place to live in Switzerland.  She asked the local village schoolmaster to help her and together they found a place that suited her.  She returned to London to get her things, but on the way home she remembered that she had not noticed a bathroom in the new place, or as she called it, a water closet.  So when she arrived in London she wrote to the schoolmaster to inquire about a water closet in her place.  Being somewhat embarrassed to ask about this, she decided to just use the abbreviation W.C. rather than spell out the words.  When the schoolmaster received her letter he was puzzled by the initials W.C., never dreaming that she was referring to a bathroom.  So he went to the local minister to see if he knew what a W.C. was.  Of course, the minister thought it stood for the Wesleyan Church.  So the schoolmaster wrote this reply to the English lady.

 Dear Madam,

 The W.C. is situated nine miles from the house in the center of a beautiful grove of trees.  It is capable of holding 350 people at a time and is open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday of each week.  A large number of folks attend during the summer months, so it is suggested you go early, although there is plenty of standing room.  Some folks like to take their lunch and make a day of it, especially on Thursday when there is organ accompaniment.  The acoustics are very good and everyone can hear the slightest sound.

 It may be of interest to you to know that my daughter was married in our W.C. and it was there she met her husband.

 We hope you will be here in time for our bazaar to be held very soon.  The proceeds will go toward the purchase of plush seats for our W.C., which the folks agree are a long-felt need, as the present seats all have holes in them.

 My wife is rather delicate; therefore, she cannot attend regularly.  It has been six months since the last time she went.  Naturally, it pains her very much not to be able to go more often. I shall close now with the desire to accommodate you in every way possible, and I will be happy to save you a seat down front or near the door, whichever you prefer.


 Alfred Schmidt