Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Walking Eagle...and other Toilet Humour.

With thanks to the internet and my sharp eyed husband for the following (alleged) Tony Blair story:

On a recent trip to the United States, Tony Blair, Ex. Prime Minister of the UK, addressed a major gathering of Native American Indians. He spoke for almost an hour on his plans for a CarbonTrading Tax for the UK and Europe At the conclusion of his speech, the crowd presented him with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name - Walking Eagle. A very chuffed Tony then departed in his motorcade, waving to the crowds. A news reporter later asked one of the Indians how they came to select the new name given to Tony Blair They explained that Walking Eagle is the name given to a bird so full of shit that it can no longer fly.

I love learning about words and phrases and with Tony Blair in mind, I discovered an interesting origin to the common British term for a toilet, politely referred to as “the cloakroom.”

It started with the Normans who introduced the first fixed room for what we would now call an indoor toilet. The White Tower, at the Tower of London, built shortly after the Conquest, has garderobe shafts built into the thickness of the walls. (These shafts faced away from the city of London so that the newly beaten subjects wouldn’t see the stains left by the conquerors’ faeces) These garderobes were little more than a room with a seat over a hole, and called garderobes because they were literally places to “guard robes.” It seems the ammonia rich environment was an excellent way of killing fleas and other unwelcome parasites, and so your most precious garments would be hung in the garderobe. It is from this same origin that the term ‘cloakroom’ is thought to have developed.

Whilst on the subject of cloakrooms and toilets, you may be interested to learn that the ancient Romans favoured a sponge tied to a stick, as the most hygienic way of wiping their bottoms - this may well be the origin for the expression “getting hold of the wrong end of the stick.”!


  1. Hi Grace,

    I love the 'alleged' Tony Blair story, I wonder if anyone actually told hom the significance of the name, or perhaps he managed to work it out for himself!!!


  2. Hilarious. Thanks for the out loud laugh. Indian humor. I was recently doing a book talk on the same program with a fellow who claimed to be Indian and had received an Indian name he was very proud of. I asked a friend who happens to be that tribe's linguist. He said the name means "Testicles on a Stick."
    Love the kitty photos too.

  3. Yvonne,I sincerely hope TB worked out the meaning and it made him stop and think!
    Katherine - that story about the fellow author is too funny! I approve of the native Indian sense of humour.
    G x

  4. Great stuff! :) I love the native american humor, I simply can't come up with this stuff on my own!


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