Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper: J

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Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper
Extracts from Adam Hart-Davis's book.
(Buy the book from Micheal O'Mara Books, ISBN 1-85479-250-4, hardback 1-85479-245-8, or in the US, ISBN 1570760810.)
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Jakes was the normal word for lavatory or privy from the sixteenth century to the eighteenth. In King Lear II ii 74--6 Shakespeare wrote ``I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of the jakes with him.'' The origin is obscure, but may be from Jaques' or Jack's house; see Harington.

`Japanese-style' lavatories, designed for squatting rather than sitting, look rather like bidets sunk into the floor, and have been called `bombsites' by occidental travellers. However, the world's most advanced `western-style' lavatories are also made in Japan.

The Territorial Army unit on the Channel Island of Jersey was looking for a useful community exercise in 1992; so at the request of the Customs and Excise Department they built a new water-tank and lavatory alongside the customs hut on the Ecrehous, a chain of rocky islets between the north-east coast of Jersey and France. It was the first flushing lavatory on the Ecrehous, and it raised a mighty stink among those with holiday retreats there. Brigadier Raoul Lempriere-Robin is quoted as saying ``Why can't they make do with an Elsan? ... The toilet is now the grandest structure on the Ecrehous... To put it bluntly, it has been a bugger's muddle all along.''

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Text extracts from "Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper" copyright Adam Hart-Davis 1997.
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Site content copyright Damon Hart-Davis 1997--2017 unless otherwise stated.