Journey to the City of Loos

By Isabel White

If Bazalgette hadn’t given in to bricks!
We would come to this place on high days and holidays;
join the ponging throng 
headed for the fragrant city on yonder hill, 
Once through the gates and greeted by an army of flunkies 
we would be guided to our own private palace of poo, 
all carved marble and cast iron, 
that many splendoured place 
that stood cheek by jowl, or in our case, cheek by cheek 
with our neighbours, 
where we would pass the time of day 
(and plenty else besides). 
All around, men and women would bob up and down to admire their handiwork, 
the ladies hidden behind filigree screens which allowed for conversation 
(which is what most women do when they are on the loo) 
but maintained their modesty, 
and the chaps, lined up in Byzantine urinals 
would stand in thrall of their neighbours’ priapus in the next door stall 
or be regaled by tales of jobbing plumbers 
with the squits… 
For the hoi polloi, rows of cubicles stretched to the horizon 
and at intersections the brush boys, 
apprenticed to the lavatory man (who, naturally, had the moniker of Dan) 
would be sent round the u-bends 
to ensure that all was spic and span. 
In the central square, stood an unctuous monument to Thomas the king of crap, 
given the clap he by now so richly deserved 
in celebration of such glorious sanitation. 
The quacks, whose formulations to ease constipation 
or devices to fill crevices, 
vied for the attention of those in a hurry 
to settle their scores with Montezuma 
(out for revenge as usual). 
And a century on, 
when so public and social an evacuation 
was no longer favoured by this nation, 
the weeds would take hold, 
goldfish no longer swim in the copper and glass cisterns on Dump Street 
and the Friends of the City of Loos would charge me a penny, 
to sit in contemplation, broken-hearted 
and dream of gases now departed.

From her collection Death and Remembrance.

This piece is from The Feminist Toilet #1. To go back and read more, click here.

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