Thoughts from the bathroom

At present there is a lot to lie awake and worry about. Our thoughts should go out to those who have filled their garages and lofts fill with toilet rolls. Do they lie awake fretting about what will happen when their hoard is exhausted? Do they worry about the fire hazard they have created by packing their homes full of paper products? Psychologists say hoarding is anally-retentive but how can that be in this case? Do some of us perhaps ponder on why we have not been more continental and installed bidets?

There is another psychological principal which has it that we tend to ridicule that which is alien to us and bidets, which most Europeans regard as serious pieces of sanitary ceramic, appear to elicit that response in us Brits. Remember the Monty Python sketch about the package holiday on the Costa del Wherever, where there’s “only a bleeding lizard in the bidet”? – this was funny because the bidet was every bit as exotic as the lizard.

We had one (a bidet that is, not a lizard) in our last property and when we put the house on the market, children of prospective buyers would ask what the funny extra toilet was and parents would mumble replies which could be confusingly misleading. One father, either in ignorance or embarrassment, told his little boy it was a footbath. As our bathroom was at the top of our first flight of stairs, we referred to that level as the ‘bidet landing’, evoking our historic storming of the Normandy beaches to cleanse Europe of the stain of fascism.

But one cannot buy-up bidets in the way that apparently we have been buying up freezers, so what else is to be done? One can only economise so far on toilet paper; the military maxim of three sheets (one up, one down and one for polish) was what put me off joining the army as a lad.

Suze and I are both avid readers but we have a different taste in literature to some of Suze’s elder relatives. Her mum says she likes books that reflect her own past – a literary genre in which the characters “have to cut up newspapers to use as toilet paper”. “The other thing is,” Suze’s mum continues, “I don’t like any books where there is swearing”.

We could perhaps use the books themselves – Barbara Cartland comes to mind, along with Jeffery Archer. The problem here is that, with the advent of the Kindle, there are no more paperbacks which are cheap enough to be put to a better purpose than what their authors hoped for them. But torn-up sheets of newsprint? I imagine many people will find themselves swearing if they have to take that trip down memory lane.

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