In and around 800 BCE the first sewers appeared in Europe. Five hundred years later aqueducts followed, and by 43 CE plumbing had officially arrived in the British Isles. This means that plumbing in England predates the discovery of America by approximately 1400 years. Further still, it predates my arrival here in London by two millennia. Why then, is every toilet flush some medieval experience?
If you can't picture it, allow me.
After having finished using the facilities, I must first heartily push down on a lever, which more closely resembles in both its mass and design an academy award. The torque required to pull Oscar down is astonishing and bares little resemblance to the dainty taps its American cousins receive. Finally, however, after much struggle the lever genuflects and the deluge commences. What initially begins as a low rumble, slowly builds to a fervor: Pipes rattle, the toilet lid coyly flips, and gallons of rushing water pour forth mercilessly drowning Myrtle the Turd-le, who, in the face of the unrelenting tide, naturally acquiesces. WOOOSH! SLUSH! CRACK! The surging waves of water artfully blend together, a spectacle worthy of the Bellagio.
At last a familiar percolating gurgle tells me the deed is done. But what's this? Like Narcissus I peer over the porcelain lip and stare hypnotically into the shallow waters. Could it be? It couldn't possibly...
Much to my surprise and dismay Myrtle sits with a certain aplomb, a toy treasure chest resting at the bottom of my fish bowl-- taunting me. I crank the Bessemer processed lever several more exhausting times but the strained loo responds indifferently, she apparently doesn't do curtain calls.
Resigned to my fate, I begrudgingly tip my cap, close the lid, and sing "God Bless America" for the next half hour.