Have you ever walked into a public toilet – only to find that there was no toilet paper? I have – this morning in the mall – and it pees me off!
Ever since my days of National Service in the Army, I’ve recognized the importance of toilet paper and its place in society.
The Army used a secret scientific formula for calculating the amount of toilet paper that was issued to the troops. If I remember correctly, our Corporal mumbled something that sounded like: “Een rol per hol per week.” (But maybe he was just practising using some new swear words – this guy had a filthy mouth around his tongue.)
Later, I found that it actually meant that one roll of toilet paper was to be issued to each soldier, every week. That was the theory – in practice it never worked. Various factors buggered up the logistics – attacks of gyppo guts, theft, rain, and because some guys used the tissues to clean their rifles (not their “guns,” Sakkie!). It was always hard to come by enough of the perforated stuff.
Amongst the troops toilet paper was known as “white gold.” Not because the Defence Force was white (which it was) but because toilet paper was scarce, well guarded, and a valuable commodity.
After serving my compulsory military training sentence in the Infantry, I returned to civilian life and tried to forget about the daily “op tos,” the food, and the brainwashing.
Lately, however, with the hullabaloo around the articles written by the lady who never uses toilet paper, I’ve developed a renewed, perverse interest, in the bog roll.
After 1994, which brought to an end the ridiculous apartheid laws – where blacks were not allowed to use “white” toilets – and whites wouldn’t dream of using “black” ones – the first thing I notice was that Affirmative Shopping, in public toilets, became the order of the day.
All of a sudden the “white gold” started vanishing from the previous “Whites Only” loos at an alarming rate! If the rolls were replenished at eight in the morning – by ten o’clock (tea time) – it would be gone. I started bringing my own toilet paper from home.
But, being the eternal optimist, I put it down to our new “democracy.” Something along the lines of the Freedom Charter’s: “The pee pool shall share in the country’s wealth. Ownership of toilet paper shall be transferred – and collectively shared – amongst the previously disadvantaged pee pool.”
But BEE that as it may – gone forever are the days when you could count on the availability of toilet paper in any toilet which is shared with the pee pool. Hospitals, restaurants, railway stations, parks, resorts, portable toilets, police stations, schools, even your place of work – all have gone the paperless route. (This is not a racist comment: it is the undeniable truth, I tell you.)
Have you ever paid any attention to the way in which toilet paper is advertised and marketed? Maybe you should – it’s off the wall!
Buying toilet paper – sheet size 100mm x 110mm; 350 or 500 sheets per roll; single, twin, or triple-ply; full cream or whole wheat; fuel injection; gay little fairies (not moffies, mind you!) and colourful flowers printed on the sheets, etc, etc, – almost as difficult as deciding which new car to buy!
But the gobbledegook written on the packaging is what really gets me:
“Classic collection.” (Someone out there collects toilet paper? Well, I’ll never!))
“To compliment the Micro-Pocket Technology, we added Fibro-Soft.” (Would you still buy it, if it read: To compliment the Emery-Paper Technology, we added Cactus-Thorns?)
“Thick and absorbent, so you can rest assured that you are looking out for your family.” (At last, after all these years of sleepless nights, my family will appreciate how much I care for them! And their backsides.)
Finally, this cracker:
“Free soft toy puppy inside. Collect all 3 in the summer puppy range!” (Oh, boy! I can hardly wait to play with my three little puppies while sitting on the potty.”)
Let me leave you with this morsel of unadulterated nonsense on the last day of the world’s existence:
During the later Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD), an Arab traveller to China, in the year 851 AD remarked: “The Chinese do not wash themselves with water when they have done their necessities; but only wipe themselves with paper.”
The Chinese had paper in their toilets???
Aaah! But they didn’t have pee pool sharing their toilets with them. That would explain it!