Pee for puzzle


A REWARD has now been offered for information that might help crystallise matters in the case of the abandoned bottles of urine in Cork.

First of all, 62 plastic Coca-Cola bottles full of urine were found in a ditch in Glanmire at the end of September. Then, last weekend, another 175 similar bottles were found nearby, amounting to a total of 237 bottles.

The Cork Independent is offering a reward of €50 for anyone with information. The civic-minded freesheet also quizzed its online readers as to where they thought the mystery urine might have come from, to which the best answer by far was “bladders?”

Apart from sub-editors, who have been happily relieving themselves with puns on the word ‘wee’, everyone in the area is perplexed. Local councillor Noel Costello told the Cork Independent:“If someone had been caught short, they would have gone in a ditch. This is very strange. Who fills bottles of urine and throws it out?”

Who indeed? Well, as Sherlock Holmes would have it, once you’ve eliminated the impissible – sorry, the impossible – then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

The British actress Sarah Miles, star of Ryan’s Daughter, has drunk her own urine for decades, believing it has health-giving properties. This means that, even if we can’t eliminate any other suspects in this inquiry, we can at least rule out Sarah Miles, since she should have wanted to keep it if it were hers. But everyone else, with the possible exception of Madonna, who is said to piddle on her own feet on purpose, must remain under suspicion for the present.

Councillor Costello is reportedly of the opinion that this is all the work of one person. However, this is not necessarily so. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know) aged urine, known as lant, once had a startling range of uses, from freshening your breath to flavouring ale to glazing pastry. (Put the Danish down now. Step away from the Danish.)

Lant was also used for making gunpowder, and in that light, the cache of pee bottles can be viewed as a sort of pre-industrial arms dump. This must raise the possibility of an alarming new line of inquiry in relation to the find in the Rebel County. Urine the army now, if you will. Admittedly this is not all that plausible.

But supposing it is all the work of one person, then you can’t help feeling some sympathy. After all, when you get tired of your collection of blue Spode, for instance, or Chewbacca action figurines, or 78s, getting rid of them is a simple matter. You put them on eBay.

Even other, less desirable collections can be easily disposed of. Students find they can often simply walk away from a history of amassing traffic bollards, just by moving to a new flat. And when you finally acquire your 2,000th rubber duck, you can always organise a charity rubber duck race, and watch your tiresome collection float downriver under the guise of altruism.

Or consider the case of Edward Lovett, who collected hundreds of revolting objects from various Londoners in the last century, including shrivelled moles’ feet and shrunken sheep’s hearts. Lovett’s collection of amulets went on display at the Wellcome Collection in London this week, which goes to show that anything can become fascinating if you wait long enough.

Those of us who keep taking up new hobbies and then getting bored with them find our houses filled with inadvertent collections. Spools of candlewick here, bags of felt there, an archery set, Cantonese language discs, a Hammond organ… they supply daily evidence of our shameful want of commitment, and it would be no surprise if we wanted to get rid of them.

But the person who finally grows out of collecting their belly button fluff or, as in this case, their pee, faces a more intractable problem. Even the most committed egotist will realise that nobody is going to want to take that off your hands – certainly not in Glanmire, at least. There may be people in California with an interest in acquiring other people’s belly button fluff or fermented urine, but there can be no such person in county Cork, and long may it remain so.

Clearly, then, the culprit believed they had no option but to dispose of their unwanted pee collection in secret. The only question that remains is why did he or she not empty the bottles down the toilet first?

There can be only two possible answers. Either the culprit is all piss and vinegar, and left the cache as an eloquent statement of their misanthropy and ill will. Or they are even now laughing into their flavoured ale, and claiming a €50 reward from the Cork Independent.


Published in the Irish Mail on Sunday, 9 October 2011

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