In England we have come a long way since the days of using newspaper squares in the toilet. The following excerpt is from a Charity trip M and I took to Ukraine in 2016.
“The temperature is reaching 30 degrees and the loo is needed as you’ve been on the bottled water since breakfast. Taking a stroll down the garden’s cinder path, you arrive at a little rickety wooden bridge that spans a brown stream. The other side of the bridge is a hut possibly 4 foot square and six and a half feet high, standing on stilts, straddling the stream. Opening the door reveals a wooden, rotting floor with a central hole, through which, the aim of those who have been before has been less than perfect…… As desperation is setting in from the bladder which is now at bursting point, there is no option but to use this ‘facility’ so braving the swarm of flying creatures, you proceed to take aim and press on. It is in mid flow through the rotting floor the realisation sets in that the brown stream beneath the hut is being feasted upon by those winged creatures brave enough to settle momentarily on the sludgy morass, whereupon, as the slime is now being stirred, a plethora of blood sucking monsters undoubtedly find exposed flesh far more interesting. Beating a hasty retreat, but not too hasty, as the wooden bridge will not support violent movement, unwary footfall could result in collapse and subsequent plummeting into the stream below, you make your way back up the garden path where lunch is to be served. Washing hands in the well water supplied, the thought crossed my mind that I hope the percolating properties of the surrounding ground is sufficient to filter out the nasties from the stream before it is drawn back up through the well……Anyone feeling peckish?”
Many years ago, one of my ancestors was due to be married. He bought a house and, as a skilled carpenter, he stocked their home-to-be with hand crafted furniture. Unfortunately, his betrothed died so, rather than live in the home alone which he had created for them together, he locked up the house leaving it undisturbed. Years later following his own death, the house was opened and the items therein distributed amongst the remaining family, for use in their own homes.
Tables, cupboards, wardrobes, bookcases and many other items found their way into new hands and were finally used as they had been originally intended, but by others who now could appreciate the fine workmanship of this truly special and gifted craftsman.
One day, whilst tending to the allotment at the rear of my grandmother’s house, I came across an eighteen inch circular wooden disk propped against a row of growing potatoes. I asked my grandmother if she would be happy for me to take this into my care which, when cleaned, became a rather attractive chess or draughts board with inlayed squares demarcating the light and dark, with different types of wood, needed for such a game. After much careful cleaning and restoration I employed the services of another skilled craftsman, who added a stretcher beneath the disk and to that attached a central leg and base, I now have a fine piece of furniture that is still in use almost one hundred years following its initial creation.
Fast forward thirty years and I have been in receipt of a seven foot high, single unit, corner cabinet from the same stash of furniture that had been spread throughout family members. It is formed of two layers, separated by a middle section that contains a drawer. The top half has three shelves and is fronted by two wooden framed doors with glass inserts. The drawer front and lower section of the cabinet are fronted by inlayed fretwork panels.
The 100 year old varnish has absorbed many years of nicotine and dirt, reaching the point where it is no longer acceptable Chez Moi, so it is off to the shed for a few days of restorative sanding and waxing.
On the top shelves behind the glass doors, I thought I might be able to exhibit my set of fine china depicting ‘Hunting Scenes’ collected over the years, for which M has a totally unwarranted, but profound, dislike of……
Failing in my quest to display the collection, it has been used for the various decorative items and gifts that have been given to us personally by the people we have met in the course of our Charity endeavours in Ukraine. So there are a few bottles of vodka, beautifully hand painted eggs, hand painted glass balls, metal sculptures, cross-stitched linen table runners, medals and certificates……and a roll of toilet paper.
It is no ordinary roll of toilet paper as we in England are accustomed to. It is displayed to remind us, just how lucky we are to use triple-ply-velvet-super-soft-absorbent-moist-wiping products. It is better than the skiddy stuff we used as children that we had to scrunch up to give it some purchase which then spread it all around rather than remove the offending particulates, but not by much. Instead this fine, grey, sandpaper roll that is commonplace in the areas we visit, is one step up from squares of newspaper, tied to a string.
Just one of the reasons why M and I help people still struggling to survive, caught in a poverty cycle so different from the way we live here. This is why we have Charity Fund Raisers, like the Barn Dance we are holding tonight, so that in the midst of our soft, luxurious, triple-ply and bounteous well-being, we can do something to help other families in this world struggle just a little less.
Wipe carefully and carry on regardless!