Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

toilet memories

My earliest memories of toilets was the backyard dunny. (And the "under the bed" chamber pot, but let's not go there....)

Down the end of the yard, often in the corner, this little building was an icon in Australian history. Everyone had one.

Inside it was a bench seat, with a hole cut into it, sanded smooth to prevent splinters. Some families left theirs "au natural", others painted and decorated, even to potplants on the corners of the bench seat.

Under the bench was "the can" into which all offerings were dropped. This can was emptied on a weekly basis by the "nightman", so called because he did his rounds in the dark early morning hours. His cart was pulled along the back alleys by a draught horse, he would open the little door at the back of the dunny, remove the full can and replace it with an empty one. Sometimes he'd be running late and early morning "goers" were sometimes surprised to hear the can being whisked out from under them and replaced.

In the summer, the stench of these cans and the ever present flies made going an unpleasant experience, probably leading to the many cases of constipation that saw families Australia wide giving everyone a weekly dose of laxative.

Toilet paper was most often a stack of newspaper squares hung from a rusty nail, or an old meat hook. If the squares were large and interesting enough, they provided reading matter while we swung our legs and waited for nature to take its course.

Some people left a pile of magazines or comics on the side of the bench seat, but this was risky as pages were torn out and used if the newspaper had run out.

Later years saw the invention of paper on a roll, and toilets themselves being built indoors, often part of the bathroom, for cheaper plumbing costs. Those who could afford it had separate toilets.
The first rolls I remember were white, hard, shiny paper, not at all comfortable to use. But neither was newspaper comfortable so no-one complained. Then came softer paper in the form of Sorbent, still around today, and Dawn, not seen for many years. Dawn was popular because it came in colours. "Pink and blue and primrose too", sang the radio and television commercials.
As time passed, paper became softer, printed with designs, embossed, quilted, three and even four ply was (is) available. So much nicer than newspaper squares, but also way more expensive.
This has become a product that no-one wants to do without and manufacturers know this, so can get away with charging astronomically for stuff that we literally toss down the toilet. Of course manufacturing costs have to be taken into account, so overall, the cost is reasonable.
Especially when supermarkets have the stuff on special. Savvy shoppers buy up big when their favourite brand is on special and if they're lucky, the supply will last until the favourite is on special again.


  1. I can't help but imagine a whole lot of bums with blank print all over them!

    ....and you're right about buying up big on bog rolls when they're on special. Love Chunks often remarks that I have a 'seige mentality' when it comes to toilet paper. Our house might only host three human beings, but there's enough toilet paper to see out the decade :)

  2. Kath, toilet paper is one thing I hate to run out of. I recently bought four of the 16 roll packs when they were $9 each. Should last me quite a while....

  3. I buy Kiwisoft in an 18 pack when we have it on sale for $5.99. At some stage that particular special rolls around again and I am able to buy my next one before the current pack runs out. It's not top of the range but it is certainly not the nasty stuff either.