I was clearing up my home office the other day (also known as “that room full of rubbish”, as Cathy my cleaner calls it), when I came across a 1982 letter from Prince Charles, (actually it was from his Private Secretary) which began, ‘Prince Charles has asked me to write to thank you for your magnificent gift of a lavatory on the occasion of his birthday.’ Trust me on this, it went on to say that the lavatory ‘would shortly be installed in Kensington Palace, where it will no doubt be greatly admired.’
‘But why? Peter, why did you give Prince Charles a lavatory?’ I can hear you asking.
Well obviously because I had wanted to get him something different; something he would use. I felt he must have got fed up with all those silver salvers, ceremonial swords and white stallions. Look everyone has to have a hobby and our future King collects toilets.Why not?
I had read about the secret Royal hobby in a Court Circular report in the paper. He had been paying a visit, to an old folks home. ’78 years old and still alive?..well done!.. . and what are your hobbies? Marrows eh? Well done! ..Me? Oh well you know, just the usual stuff. stamps, matchboxes,.. lavatories.. just like a lot of other ordinary people I imagine’
I had never met him, but what better way is there to strike up a new friendship than by giving a total stranger a lavatory? I arrived at the main gates of Buckingham Palace a couple of days later with the loo I had bought him (Victorian, with Prince of Wales feathers on the bowl) sitting beside me on the passenger seat of my car. I managed to get a grip on it, lifted it up and staggered towards the entrance..The policeman on duty casually wandered over,
“What have we got here Sir?”
“It’s a lavatory.”I said.
“Yes I can see that Sir…what I meant was, why are you carrying a lavatory Sir.?”
I put it down on the pavement..(Do you have any idea how much a toilet weighs?) Japanese tourists were going crazy, flash bulbs were going off, it was like a premiere.( “And a limo has pulled up and yes the lavatory has arrived.!. The Toilet is here !.” The fans surge forward.) The policeman bent down and looked into the lavatory bowl. No sign of a bomb.
“It’s a birthday present for Prince Charles.” I said.
“He collects them.” I added.
He acted as if people had been turning up all day long with lavatories for Prince Charles. He spoke into his lapel.
“We have got a gentleman here with a birthday present for Prince Charles. ..A lavatory.”
“Right Sir, if you could take your lavatory round to the side entrance they will be expecting you there.”
A large photo of me and the lavatory at the Palace Gates appeared the next day on the back page of The Times and I spent a few days giving interviews to radio stations and newspapers around the world .
“It’s Good Morning Australia here Pete, now we hear you are feeling flushed this morning mate. Can you tell us why? .
“So Charley boy the heir to the Throne, will be sitting pretty on the throne, in the future eh Pete! Good on you mate! Well it goes to show they have to go to the old Thomas Crapper just like the rest of us, don’t they!”
In the US, it was a particularly big story in the weekly Sacramento Bee. Re- reading the letter today I was struck by the phrase..’where it will no doubt be greatly admired ‘. I wondered where he had intended putting it in the middle of the living room? ..in the dining room?
After giving him the toilet I’d never heard from him again. Typical isn’t it? No progress reports, nothing. Not even one late night ‘ Hi! It’s HRH here, do you happen to know a good 24 hour plumber? in the Kensington area?. It just won’t flush.’ call. You would think he must have had some plumbing problems in the last 18 years wouldn’t you?’ Toilet stoppages are directly linked to the number of relatives invited for Christmas Dinner.’ My plumber Bob told me recently and HRH must have hundreds round for dinner every week. But nothing, all these years. Not even a peep.
As soon as I have finished this column I am going to write to him…..
‘Dear Prince Charles,
You probably don’t remember me, but I’m the man who gave you a lavatory for your birthday in 1982. I thought I would drop you a line now just to check that it’s working all right.
I must say I am a little surprised that I haven’t heard from you since 1982, as I had hoped that we could have developed a friendship based on our mutual interest in toilets. Whilst I cannot claim it is my main hobby, I do have three lavatories; I keep one on suite, one in the main bathroom and a third one I usually keep in my guest cloakroom downstairs.
It would be nice to hear if my gift has been ‘ greatly admired’ over the years.
However, I hope you did not put it in your living or dining room as I have heard some women regard a husband’s insistence on having a lavatory in the middle of the living room as grounds for divorce.
Finally your Majesty, on a lavatory security note, may I take this opportunity to refer you to an article in Plumbing Magazine (PM, available online at www.plumbing.com) , which you might possibly have missed. The October 1998 issue. Headlined ‘Man killed by exploding water closet in LA High Rise.’ It tells how the CIA have been working on a plan to blow up Saddam Hussein, whilst he was sitting on his toilet.
I do not want to alarm you unnecessarily, but I thought you might care to pass this on to your personal plumbing security people.(PPSP).
Apparently the CIA are working on this because toilets frequently explode from the high pressure created in plumbing systems 25 floors and higher; sending lethal flying shards of vitreous china in all directions, so if I were you, to be absolutely safe I would be careful to only use lavatories on the ground floor.
I hope you find this helpful.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to talk Toilets or feel like popping round if you’ve got a free evening to see my own modest collection some time.
PS. Personally, to be on the safe side, I wouldn’t ‘go’ on planes either, not once they have taken off anyway.
The Saturday Column March 10th 2001 Copyright Peter Rosengard 2001 Weekly on www.rosengard.com If you wish your friends to receive the Column please send their e mail addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org If you do not wish to receive the column please reply with ‘unsubscribe in the subject box.
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COPYRIGHT. Peter Rosengard for Rosengardworld 2001