You know my love of pointless research, my revelling in the worthlessness, my wonderment that the researchers actually got a research grant for this piece of vacuousness, though for the latter I’m often rather envious they had the sheer brass neck to put forward the proposal and get it accepted. Now, however, something genuinely interesting and actually worthwhile.

The subject matter, though universal, is a bit unsavoury, and I have no wish to upset you. I won’t be upset if you skip something about faeces on your day of rest. I always do a piece about faeces on Thanksgiving. My reader Susan Daniels finds it takes her mind off the stress.

Here’s a thing. We all know that human turds are very adherent. If you’ve ever shared a student house where the lavatory pan looks like the startline at Orange County International Raceway, or Santa Pod in the UK, you’ll know this. At the dragstrip, this is a good thing, increasing traction. In a toilet, this is a bad thing, since nobody in a shared house has any concept at all of the way a toilet brush works. Know why I could never work housekeeping in a hotel? Other people’s skidmarks.

Now however, thanks to a team at Penn State University in the US, help is at hand. They have developed a turd-resistant coating for bog bowls. Every turd now turns into one of those submarine turds we’ve all experienced, the ones that make you think, ‘Where the hell did that go?’ Disappears without trace. You know exactly what I’m talking about here. Don’t deny it.

Counterintuitively, the coating on the pan is covered with tiny hairs, a bit like mini-Velcro, but every five hundred dumps or so, you apply a lubricant and the skiddies are history. That’s proper grownup research, isn’t it? Particularly if you accept the assertion that this techie approach could save 800 billion litres of water a year worldwide. That’s quite a saving.

One thing does intrigue me, though. How did they do the research? Was there a standard turd they used, or was it empirically based? Our personal lives will tell us that some dumps are stickier than others. Standard diets with no Guinness and no fahl? And how do you apply the negative controls? ‘Don’t dump it all in one!!!! You need to move to the next pan halfway through!’ That’s fraught with danger, isn’t it?

I have to say though that when I was a student, getting paid for having a dump? Bargain.