Press release from Further Education Lectures (University of Cambridge Canals’ Association)
No. 35. Anal Retention in the Canal Dimension
The world of cod psychology was shaken to its foundations recently with the emergence of a new phobia – fear of using the lavatory in a canal boat. Apparently researchers have shown that a minority of crew on canal boats are apprehensive about using the boats’ perfectly adequate bathroom/toilet facilities due to anxiety that their lavatorial activities might be overheard, or heaven forbid, smelt! These worried people think that the confined space and thin walls of a canal boat inevitably lend themselves to maximum embarrassment. These phobics fear other crew are within earshot or sniffing distance. They feel the situation is different from camping, where phobics can stealthily slope off to the toilet block well away from their companions in a tent, where they can break wind, tinkle and create odours in peace and anonymity.
This is obviously not a phenomenon restricted to canal boating. Apparently, in Japanese lavatories, most ladies habitually pulled the chain before as well as after performing so that the noise of the filling cistern masked any flatulence sounds or tinkling. The excess water consumption caused considerable consternation in Japanese water supply circles.
On a narrow boat, phobics may feel lavatorial noise embarrassment can be minimised by performing when the engine is running. However, when the boat is moored and silent, some phobics have been seen to leave the boat, shuffling along awkwardly with crossed-legs to perform away from the boat in a wood or nearby pub. To the worried mind, discomfort and inconvenience are preferable to any possible embarrassment, however misplaced that may be.
The research academics feel that all humans, phobics and non-phobics alike, can learn from the animal world – to a cow, openly loading the gut at the front end is as natural as openly unloading waste from the back. Although not advocating that people behave like a herd of cattle, canal boaters do acknowledge that we are all in this together – we must all use lavatories. Perhaps it is time to lose our inhibitions, broaden our minds, uncross our legs and let rip! Parp! Parp!