101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 66: Pissing

Armitage Shanks

This is one for the guys, ladies you might want to sit down. Remember when you were learning how to ‘do a standing up wee’? The hardest thing was getting your little soldier to hit the target. Now then: what did you aim for? That’s right! There was some writing near the back of the pan.

Now you probably couldn’t read at that age, but very soon you could and one day you’d be having a jimmy and you’d finally decode that writing: ’Armitage Shanks’. From that day on you’d see those letters every time you went for slash for they are the motto to which we urinate. The connection between those words and relief is so strong that I often need to stop several times to spend a penny when I drive past road signs in Staffordshire.

But there wouldn’t be an Armitage Shanks to shoot for if it wasn’t for, yes you’ve guessed it, Birmingham. For it was here that two great sanitary giants met to thrash out a peace that led to the formation of Armitage Shanks in 1969. Yes here in Birmingham, the Switzerland of Pissing, Armitage Wares of Armitage agreed to merge with Glasgow’s Shanks Holdings – and just as well for this writer would not be able to cope with the hilarity of piddling into toilets stamped ‘Shanks Holdings’ (‘Yes! I am!’).

So ladies – welcome back – the reason we never sprinkle when we tinkle is because of Armitage Shanks and all thanks to Birmingham. And if our aim goes wrong don’t worry – we’ll be sweet and wipe the seat.

Buy 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World: the Book now

image cc JJ Merelo