Remember the cludgie? Well I do. Indeed I used an outdoor toilet at my Auntie Gertie’s house in Burton-on Trent.
I had come down to visit one of my mum’s sisters (she had many) from the comfort of a Sighthill prefab and at the age of seven or eight was taken aback to find folk in the tenements where she lived shared a loo. Mind you it was clean and well kept, though the toilet roll in those days (Izal, no longer manufactured, I wonder why) was something else, none of your quilted, softened, moisturised nonsense then. Being outside and shared it also meant queues at “peak times” and unplanned torchlight journeys. Still it was a loo at least.
Nowadays, apart from the kitchen, it is the room which is a manufacturer’s and decorator’s delight. Loos of all shapes and sizes, bidets, showers that spray from all angles, baths that bubble and tiles by the mile. Folk proud of their loos even give a wee tour. “Do come and see my cludgie, just had it redone.” There are special products: shower cleaners, loo cleaners, tile cleaners, floor cleaners. There are candles to be lit, potpourri bowls to match the décor, pot plants to give ambience. Some have tellies, wraparound sound systems and always newspapers and magazines (which were formerly utilised in other ways) to read in the solitude of the loo.
Women in particular are very judgmental about loos (I obviously am short on experience of the male, excepting that of a husband and two sons but that’s not for public consumption).
If a loo is clean and fresh she will give it approval and the place where it is located, if the opposite, the location is condemned with the words “I wouldn’t go in there if I were you.” This extends to “Let’s not eat here.”
Is this a strange topic? Not a bit of it because without clean toilet provision at work, at home, out and about, then sickness and diseases can take hold, which brings me to Toilet Twinning.
I have recently twinned my own constituency office toilet. This is a great idea which helps those in desperate poverty to have access to a proper latrine, clean water and information. OK it can sound a bit ridiculous at first but it addresses really serious issues. Did you know for example that according to the World Health Organisation one in three people across the world don’t have somewhere safe to go to the toilet?
This affects everyone but most of all women, children, old and sick people. Every minute, a child under the age of five dies because of dirty water and poor sanitation when untreated faeces go straight into surface water.
In fact, it is estimated that around half the people in the world have an illness caused by bad sanitation. So with the cost of twinning just £60 I would encourage other groups and businesses and indeed individuals (if you are flush) to consider twinning their own toilet.
My twinning toilet is in Malawi. You even get a wee certificate and what better place to hang that than in your own private cludgie? Here are the details and please no toilet puns: www.toilettwinning.org
Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale