“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Salute the sewermen.

When I was a teenager I had a spell working on Upper Thames passenger steamers. The lavatorial arrangements on board these vessels consisted in the main of chemical toilets the contents of which I'm ashamed to say we chucked in the river come dark. We fantasised about lobbing an Eton Schoolboy in on top but I don't think that it ever happened. However, some of the boats had the more modern "holding tank" system that was pumped out into a tanker lorry for disposal. One day, having completed our usual trips up and down the river, one of us was instructed to drive the tanker and empty it. I was to be drivers mate. A couple of girls were hanging around the jetty and we decided to ask them if they wanted to, "come for a ride in our lorry". Amazingly they agreed to accompany us on our expedition. On arrival at a sewage farm on the outskirts of Windsor we coupled up various pipes while the girls looked on dubiously. A manhole cover was lifted and the contents of the tanker evacuated. The smell was beyond description. As you can imagine our companions were less than impressed and demanded to be driven back immediately where they stalked off without so much as a backward glance. Well we were all very young.
The details of how we dispose of sewage and refuse may not be for the faint hearted but is none the less vital for our health and well being and the people who work in these industries perform some of the most socially useful work. One binman or sewer worker is worth a thousand bankers in my view so I was delighted to find that we now have a sewer flushers blog complete with singing sewermen links and stuff. Top geezers.

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