Monday, April 18, 2011

Thunderbox is Go !





With the arrival of spring, and perhaps an overambitious expansion of our projects, our workload approaches overload.  We’re finishing work no earlier than 8pm each evening and only then thinking of what to cook for supper.  I’m not complaining, nor after sympathy, just saying how it is.  I have a pile of unread books and magazines but it’s as much as I can do, in bed with a chamomile tea, to read three pages before heavy eyelids descend and I’m obliged to give up.  Perhaps it was circumstances such as these that inspired American writer (1895 – 1990), Lewis Mumford  to argue that
“Today, the degradation of the inner life is symbolized by the fact that the only place sacred from interruption is the private toilet.”

So here I am, trousers down, taking a few contemplative minutes out alone with just my favourite French eco-building magazine for company … alone that is but for Julie, the deputy editor of said magazine and Clive, lecturer and head of the photography department of Sheffield University, quelle horreur !  To blame is the infamous sens de l'humour anglais.

I write magazine articles from time to time and had been promised three lucrative pages to write about our compost toilet and grey water treatment system but the financial climate has changed and the editor’s edict is that Julie must cover everything in Brittany to reduce costs (and thus my income!)  Therefore, Julie had come over one evening to take some photos and ask us some questions and with my oh-so-funny English sense of humour, I suggested a photo of me seated, reading their magazine.  The poor woman was most disturbed when I dropped my trousers but who goes to the toilet wearing their jeans?  Surely art is authenticity?  I kept my underpants on but she was clearly so unsettled that the photo was blurred when they looked at it at the office the following day.  The editor was, however, taken in by this jolly jape and Julie found herself back at our house for a second go.

By this time, we had the last of this winter’s willing volunteers, Clive and Wendy, staying.  Clive is a bit of a whizz, to say the least, with photography so Julie’s office Nikon got handed over.  I had prepared myself with two sets of underpants, so allowing even more authenticity while maintaining my modesty.  Not only did Clive adjust the complicated digital camera settings as he went, he then impressed everyone with some deft touches on Photoshop to change the colour balance (fluorescent lighting) and make me look (so I like to think) very much like George Clooney.

With respect to my occasional magazine articles I referred to above, I’ve another published in the latest (summer) edition of Permaculture Magazine.  Buy it to read all about our good friend Rick Mehmed.  “How to turn waste wood into business: How one man changed the face of wood recycling in Britain”.

Next blog :  introducing bees to our permaculture smallholding. 

5 comments :

Vera said...

Oh this made me smile! A friend took one of me sitting on the newly fitted toilet, but I didn't have the courage to post a blog about it. (Up until then we had been using a porta potti for over two years).
Hope you are able to get your articles accepted, and I must have a browse around your blog to see what you have written about the loo.

Steve said...

Hi Stewart.
I find it strange that Julie did not want to take a photo, yet Frenchmen seem to take a pee anywhere in public.
I heard a trickle of water yesterday, on looking through the trees, there was my French neighbour peeing in his driveway.
Mind you apparently it keeps the foxes away for the chicken run!

Steph said...

I wrote about composting toilets recently for the Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatlife/8443909/Toilet-troubles-in-rural-France.html
You might enjoy reading it!
Amitiés
Stephanie

Monica@thedancingfarmer.com said...

George Clooney!
Your so funny!
But your "toilet" is not. Wish I had one myself--and I am pretty sure someday I will!
Congrats on another Permaculture article!

Bek said...

:D well you've got more clothes on than Penny Rimbaud in the "Lifting the Lid" documentary on building a composting loo!

Jamie's farm have just had some Thunderbox toilets put in too.