Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A word about toilet paper

When I was very, very young, I used to get up in the morning and run to the toilet, or "lav" as we called it, at the top of our yard. It was right next to the back lane, providing easy access for the “night cart” men of an earlier epoch. We had modern plumbing, but not modern toilet paper. Instead we used, not the Eaton’s catalogue, but the West Australian or the Daily News, torn carefully into squares threaded on a piece of string hanging on a hook. I remember how thick and tough the newsprint was. And I hate to think what it did to our sensitive skin!

I was thinking about this as I sat in the loo at one of my favourite coffee shops this morning and encountered toilet paper of the other extreme -- soft and thin, too thin if you know what I mean. I wondered how much thought had been given to the comfort of the customer. This is an indelicate topic, I know, but we do spend from nine to twelve months of our life in a loo.

For the most part, toilet paper in public institutions is thin and cheap. It’s all about saving money, of course, but it’s false economy. The rolls may be cheaper, but how long do they last if you have to fold your paper many times for each wipe?

The cheapest toilet paper I’ve ever used was in a Queensland government school in the nineteen seventies. It was non-absorbent, transparently thin, and you had to pull it off the roll by the yard, tear it unevenly for there were no perforations, and fold it into thirteen layers. 

In establishments of quality you may find toilet paper to match. Our friends in France use a product so soft and thick and gentle, that it doesn’t need folding at all.  Visiting their facility is a pleasurable, sensory experience.

But there's no need to go to that extreme. All we expect in our facilities is paper of moderate thickness and absorbency, in plentiful supply! Then we'll continue to patronise the establishment. It's not just the coffee!

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