Wednesday 29 November 2023


When I was, say, 9 y.o., I was able to pee twice as high as my head [prev]. I was reflecting on this because it was the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy last Wednesday 22 Nov 2023. My contribution to the MeFi debate about Conspiracy was "On 22 Nov 1963, 4700mi ENE of Dallas, 9½ y.o. me had just gone to bed but was re-woken with the news that President Kennedy had been shot. I started to internalize 3 letter acronyms TLA the next day JFK LBJ CIA FBI . . . RFK MLK." The reason we got the hot press news within an hour of the event at a country boarding school on a different continent is because one of the chaps went for a leak after lights-out and must have encountered a news-appraised teacher in the hallway.

We had more plumbing adventures a fortnight ago. There was a puddle on the floor beside the downstairs jacks - because the ballcock was not completely shutting off the inlet valve. I called Roy the Plumber and described the issue / discharge / problem. He took a quick look and then said "You need a new t'ilet; this one is 25 years old; we / I could replace the ball-cock and valve; but that cistern is too small to take the modern version; if I replace the cistern there is bound to be a leak between it and the toilet . . . it only works to my guarantee If we replace the whole caboodle". So I agreed and put a bucket under the leak; resolving to empty it every other day. But in the interim between nting the leak and buying the preferred toilet set things got A Lot worse. The ball-cock dislocated itself at the shoulder, floated free and we had a macro-leak. The washing-machine was in mid-cycle, so I preferred not to cut off the water at the mains. I flushed to reduce the water-level and rushed to the tool-shed for a replacement pin to reconnect the arm with the valve. After a predictable amount of splashy-splashy, I punched out the last fragment of [plastic!] pin and whanged in my replacement.

. . . and it worked! Not only to stem the current gush but also to stop the previous drip-drip leak. Seems that the crappy plastic pin which had held the system together for +25 years had fractured so that the ball-cock pressed on the shut-off button at an oblique angle and therefore could . not . get . it . completely . SHUT. Things had to get worse to get better in this case. I can afford to buy a new toilet if I need to but I'd rather keep the existing one out of land-fill if possible.

Back to meeeee! I am not always 100% on top of the plumbing sphincters but I can, for example, reliably wake up at night and get to the bathroom. Yes there are two - internal IUS and external EUS - urethral sphincters [L]: one up one down of the prostate. [much more information on the anatomy than you need] The external lad is skeletal = voluntary muscle, while the internal one is standard smooth muscle under the unconscious autonomic nervous system. Occasionally, acting on internal signals, my conscious self get the "need to pee" message and head out through the drizzle for the compost heap. On arrival, the goddam internal sphincter, which has been holding on manfully, will announce "arrived at destination!" let go before the rest of the apparatus is out of the fly ready to fly. It's where Free Will meets free willy! Emergency clench by the external sphincter is often not quick enough: so tinkle leakage. 

I guess it's why they let lecturers retire in their 60s. It's all very well for Leopold Bloom "Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine" to have a whiff of pee about him. But no fair on 20-somethings having to get up close and personal with a leaky lecturer during a physics lab? In a 9 y.o. that detrusor muscle is a powerful thing hence the pee to a great height Olympics in school bathrooms . . . in an old chap, no so much.

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