Today I am going to celebrate the humble loo roll and mourn the passing of the bidet.
I can never find the passage, but maybe someone else can recall it in The Unbearable Lightness of Being where Kundera writes about the unspoken significance and importance in any household of the lavatory. John and myself have been in dispute, until I actually recorded about how long it takes the two of us to go through a roll of loo paper. He said 5 days and I said 1. The reality is it lasts for 2.5 days. No doubt the excess is exacerbated by WHO and others continually repeating how important it is that we keep hydrated. Now, it seems more than ever. When I was a child I was mystified by the presence in some bathrooms of a bidet. I had no idea what they were used for and nobody seemed willing to explain. I’m still not entirely sure if there primary purpose was as a douche, Im not even quite sure what a douche is, or whether they were a back up or hygienic alternative to loo paper. I mentioned my preoccupation with bidets to Suzie this morning, one of the indispensables in both Dido and my life as she has walked Dido since she was six months, and Suzie, who is a frequent traveller to Turkey replied that she had only a short while ago been recalling with nostalgia the fact that in Turkey bidets are still a la mode in almost every public toilet. It seems that the scarcity of loo paper above almost all commodities other than bread/flour/yeast has caused the Western world more anxiety than anything else.
I will always remember that when my son in law Jay was still alive we had an intriguing conversation about therapy and dream interpretation. ‘How’, he asked me ‘Can anyone not take into account the cultural specifications of anyone’s dream. Back home in Nigeria we were brought up that you eat with your right hand and wash your bottom with your left.’
I fear I might have more to say when I have finished a few afternoon Skype sessions but in the meantime someone has sent me a more hopeful ‘Space’ where they are in lockdown in San Tropez; no point feeling envious because they just want to be re-united across a border with their elderly and fragile mother. Regardless of how beautiful the wisteria appears it is also a barrier. Borders, Barriers and Spaces… A few days ago I wrote about how you can no longer park anywhere near the parks and a privilege which I still took for granted of witnessing early morning swan song has departed. Tonight this notice arrived.
Anything to do with Dido sends me into irrational panic. I don’t worry about us not eating, or not being able to walk but this feels like it is the beginning of the Endgame. And my son insists that we cannot now – while the statistics are jumping like flees – steel out of the house at dawn and throw Dido her ball. I forget that my little grandchildren have not been beyond the street for days. This virus is a trickster of tricksters. I thought our GP was getting better but he’s still – after 13 days – struggling a bit for breath. And, I have just had ‘group’ news that our colleague, one London’s leading NHS and private psychiatrists, barely middle-aged, is now in hospital on oxygen. And I’m worrying about Dido’s ball! Surely it is the anti-social Deniers who continue to congregate in the parks and the runners who dominate the pavements that should be chained to the railings.