Wednesday 13 July 2011


I’m old enough to remember outside toilets. They weren’t too clever, especially in the winter. Most that I experienced were connected to the main water supply and the sewers, but not all. When I was very young my paternal grandparents owned a picturesque thatched cottage just outside Bury St Edmunds. Whilst it every bit looked the part in terms of bucolic gemütlichkeit, facilities it had to be said were rudimentary. There was cold running water to the cottage and that was it. The ‘lav’, for that’s what it was, was a wooden shed. Inside the shed was an oil drum. On top of the oil drum rested a toilet seat. On the right wall (looking in) about half way up and standing proud was a six inch nail that had been strategically banged in. Hanging on the nail joined by a loop of string was a wad of paper. Rough hand-torn squares of scrap ranging from shiny tissue to newsprint. It depended on what was around the cottage at the time. Periodically this wooden construction would be moved around the back garden, with one hole being filled in and a fresh one dug. As a young lad I dreaded having to go to the toilet at Granddad’s. In winter it was cold, dark and smelly. In the summer it was hot and even smellier and flies were your constant companions. This was Britain in the 60s! I was always so pleased to return to our modern council house with it’s inside toilet and hot and cold running water, and with proper toilet paper. Mind you the toilet paper in those days was nothing like today. We used to have sheets in a box rather than a roll, not that it really matter as the paper was the same; the ubiquitous Izal Medicated. Forget the super soft luxury toilet rolls of today Izal Medicated was not the faint hearted. It was hard, shiny, non-absorbent and non-stick. You were left with more than a stiff upper lip after using it I can tell you. “Kids today don’t know they are born!

Despite having ‘roughed it’ in my youth, camped and having been to quite a number of music festivals I really I can’t imagine what it must be like not to have access to any sanitation. In too many countries having access to a toilet and washing facilities can mean the difference between life and death. The absence of sanitation can kill. That is why I urge you if you can to support the work of the One Difference organisation. One “create brilliant, quality products, and every time you buy one,” they “donate 100% of the profit to life-changing projects in developing countries”. For some time now we’ve been buying One toilet rolls. The profits from which go to fund sanitation projects in Africa. In my humble opinion their toilet rolls are actually some of the best you could hope to buy. They are really really good. Soft yet strong. And by buying them others, less fortunate than us, are benefitting. To use horrible management speak ‘a win-win situation’.

Please support them if you can.


  1. From my birth in 1959 until I fled the nest in 1976 I lived in my parent's rented mid-terrace house at 401 Fairfax Drive in Westcliff-on-Sea. This had no bathroom, only an outside loo and a metal bath hanging on a nail on the outside back wall, brought in on Sunday for our weekly ablutions. We had 'potties' for those nocturnal calls of nature. The loo was cold, dark, and full of cobwebs.

    I ought to write a post detailing the full joys of being brought up in a veritable slum.

  2. I think you should write that post.