Flushes and blushes

"On May 6, 1986, I was sitting on a toilet at work. When I reached back to flush it, the toilet exploded, sending shards of porcelain everywhere," writes Carol. "Some of the sharp pieces hit me on the back of my legs. Everyone in the building heard the loud boom and came running to see what had happened. Even though I was injured, they couldn't help laughing. When I got to the hospital, the doctor on duty tried not to laugh when I told him that I had been sitting on a toilet which blew up on me. The shards of porcelain were removed from my legs, and I recovered ... though it took me a long time to relax near a toilet. I researched "exploding toilets".

There are other victims of this phenomenon, some of whom suffered serious injuries.The most common cause of exploding toilets is air pressure in the pipes. Before my "toilet attack", the water had been shut off for plumbing repairs, so the air pressure may have increased, causing the explosion. Over the years, many doctors have stifled giggles when reading my medical history. I still don't trust toilets!"

What simple thing did you learn late?

A reader writes: "When I was a kid in the 1970s, our local parish priest would read out a weekly prayer for Indoor China. I could never find it on a map. Years later, I realised it was Indo China (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam etc)."

Pulling out all the stops

Back in 1985, in St Louis, local politicians decided that the term "bus stop" sounded too negative, so they voted to rename them "bus starts". They gave the thumbs-up to the purchase of 1800 new "bus start" signs, which were dutifully installed. A year-and-a-half later, when it became clear that people were confused by what a "bus start" was supposed to be, the city conceded defeat and went back to using the traditional term. This, of course, meant buying even more signs.

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