EU’s Flush

by David Pryce-Jones

The Marx Brothers once put on a serious show about Napoleon, but the audience couldn’t stop laughing. So Harpo gave up, and said, “Emperor, the garbage men are here,” to which Groucho replied, “Well, tell them we don’t want any.”

This happy scene was brought to mind by the latest inspiration of the geniuses in Brussels in charge of the European Union. There are Islamist-terror alerts all over the place; the talk is all of deficits and recession; EU unemployment is now 19 million — and lo! what comes out of  Brussels is a paper with the magnificent title, “Development of EU Criteria for Flushing Toilets and Urinals.” Yes indeed, bathroom flushing standardized all over the continent is the future. We are to have five liters for lavatories and one liter for urinals. Think of the committees that will have met, the statistics, measurements, experiments in volume, travel to remote places to inspect variant designs, Turkish lavatories, and Bulgarian multi-seats (and what about Portaloos?).Grown men with expensive educations and tiptop credentials must also have discussed for hours the increased production of cisterns, extra work for plumbers, new costs, taking into consideration the views of ecologists, town planners, and officials in the 28 languages of the EU.

A letter published in the Daily Telegraph was from a chap obliged by EU regulations to replace his nine-liter tank with a six-liter tank. Now he has to flush twice, using twelve liters and he concludes, “This, to me, sums up the EU.”   

In old days I used to see quite a bit of Sid Perelman, who wrote the Marx Brothers scripts. What a skit this flushing masterstroke would have been for him.          

David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.