On the green, to what would be the right of the photograph if any of you cared to buy Your Man on the Can a fancy panoramic camera, is a copper statue of a lady with a cane, wearing a smile and nothing else.
This building is the Aston Webb, where the allegedly important people of the University of Birmingham hang out, and, presumably, if the occasion calls for it, poop.
Such a nice, fancy-looking building, though – how could one not wander inside for a look?
Well, as eagle-eyed but anal readers from the University of Birmingham might be keen to point out if we ever enable the comments section, it would be very easy not to wander inside for a look because those doors are, in fact, locked.
It’s true. I had to make a second trip at about
on the Saturday to photograph the outside of the building, having had to avoid a group of Japanese tourists the previous day. That clock tower, incidentally, is the tallest free-standing clock tower in the world, and is nicknamed “Old Joe”, after Joseph Chamberlain (Ex-British Prime Minister Neville’s grandfather), one of the founders of the university. Living in the tower are a pair of peregrine falcons. Peregrine falcons are the fastest animals in the world. They have been recorded travelling at speeds of up to 242 miles per hour. That is a big fucking deal if you are a pigeon. In fact, even if you’re not a pigeon, being struck by a one kilo falcon travelling at 200mph, is equivalent, approximately, to being hit by a tiny, tiny train. And it has fucking talons.
So the next time you’re passing by Old Joe, cast an eye upwards – all you’ll probably see is a security camera masquerading, at that height, as a falcon, but they are up there.
Anyway, venturing inside, you are greeted by a suitably impressive reception desk, as you can clearly see from these pics I snapped with my Nikon toaster*.
You probably can’t read the small printed sign on the sheet of paper over there in the corner, but it’s an arrow pointing to the toilets. It would have been more entertaining if I’d wandered over for a closer look only to find it said “You have been eaten by a gru”, but VIP toilets are a pretty cool prospect too. The ones up the winding metal staircase looked more exciting, but I didn’t have enough X-chromosomes for admittance, nor was I carrying my All-Pass Knight’s Atari Identification Card.
“It’s okay, Ma’am – I’m a toilet reviewer for Knight’s Atari.”
Anyway, we should probably mosey on in.
As you walk in the door, a ventilation fan starts up, presumably in expectation of you depositing some seriously noxious stuff, and provides a nice soothing hum which masks the sound of the Japanese tourists taking photographs in the foyer outside. After a short time, though, this fan knocks off with a rather loud clack, which is not good for the heart.
The first thing that strikes me as very “Non-VIP” are the three urinals. How does that work? If I’m Very Important – which I am, of course, but only to my family, my thousands of friends, and the millions of adoring Knight’s Atari fans – the last thing I want is for some smelly prole to come in to take a whizz while I’m there. Even if the Pope and Natalie Portman were stood at the urinals on either side of me, that would not be cool. Although one might literally be rubbing shoulders with “influential people”, the bathroom is not the place for networking, nor asking someone if you can sign their boobs, nor asking forgiveness for your sins (unless you’re on the toilet squeezing out a particularly difficult specimen). People who talk in public bathrooms without good reason (eg. “Your fly is open” or “There’s no toilet paper in that stall” or “Give me the cocaine or I’ll gut you like a fish!”) are the scum of the earth. (cf. the Duke Brothers in “Trading Places”, Randall in “Monsters Inc.”, Dean Sampson in “She’s All That”, Romilda Vane in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, Shawna Riverson in “The Babysitters’ Club: Claudia and the Middle School Mystery”, Lila Fowler in “Sweet Valley Twins: Alpha Bitch”, and everyone in “Ally McBeal”.)
The toilet is clean, I’ll give it that, and appears to be well-stocked with toilet paper. There’s no entertaining graffiti, but I suppose that’s to be expected in classy facilities such as these. The seat is at an appropriate height – which is more than can be said for some toilets which Your Man on the Can has reviewed – and the gradient of the rim of the seat achieves a nice balance between “sloped enough so that any wayward splashes trickle down into the toilet” and “so sloped that any attempts to construct a toilet paper shield go literally down the shitter”. The flush is one of those ridiculous awkward “push-button” ones, built right into the wall, which hundreds, if not thousands, of very important hands have pushed after wiping their very important arses. Your Man on the Can’s flush mechanism of choice is one which can be pressed by the foot. (I am convinced, incidentally, that this exercise is why I can bend my right leg far enough to touch my nose with my foot, while I have difficulty raising my left foot even up onto my right thigh).