Thinking Strange Thoughts - Granddad's Outdoor Toilet

I really miss the old outdoor toilet, when I first moved to Australia we had an outdoor toilet, then toilets moved inside, then everyone wanted an ensuite, next thing I suppose people will want their toilet next to their bed. Now I do not like that idea, lets be honest, there are times, for example after several pints of Guinness and a chicken vindaloo when you just do not wish to be that close.

I remember with great fondness my grandparents outdoor toilet, we lived with them when I was young. My grandad had built it out of some scrap wood and it had a tin roof, of course most people built their outdoor toilet fairly adjacent to the house, but for some reason he had built his so far away that it was almost in another county. You actually had to anticipate when you might need to go and then set out early with a packed lunch.

I particularly recall having to go to the toilet during the night, it can get pretty cold in England at night especially during winter. So I would put on my granddads spare greatcoat over my “Dan Dare” pyjamas, pull my “Davy Crockett” hat tightly over my head, and slip on my “Adventure Shoes“, these were so called because they had a small compass concealed in the heel. This was very useful for when you were traipsing halfway across Europe searching for my granddads toilet.

Now as any child will tell you, it’s a bit scary wandering around outside in the middle of the night, mainly because that’s when all the monsters come out. To overcome this problem I used the old trick of staring straight ahead, walking very quickly and singing in a very loud voice. Now it does not really matter what song you use but I had recently joined the Cubs so I used “Gin, Gan, Gilly,Gilly”. I think this song had been written by someone with no concept of the English language, it started off “Gin, Gan, Gilly, Gilly”, and then the lyrics went downhill from there, still it must of worked because I never saw any monsters.

Once you eventually reached the toilet you could soon warm up as there was always a candle sitting on a shelf there, I would light it and spend many a happy hour reading the toilet paper. Of course proper toilet paper had not been invented yet, well it probably had but we were certainly not getting any. My main job after school every day was to cut up the newspapers in to small squares and stick them on a nail in the toilet. I suppose rich people had “The Times” on a nail in their toilet, but we mainly had “The News of the World” which in those days was very thick and rough, it certainly put a bit of colour in your cheeks.

One very cold morning I had a nasty shock, I opened the toilet door and there was my granddad not looking at all well, evidently he had fallen asleep during the night and had frozen to the toilet seat, he could not even bend his legs. I ran back to the house to get help and in the end we had to unscrew the seat and carry my granddad still attached to it back to the house, there we put him into a warm bath until he thawed out.

Incidentally, I’m very concerned about my pet budgerigar Neville, he’s had a nasty little cough lately and a sore throat, I just hope he’s not getting Bird Flu. I did go to the chemist and ask for some Aspirin, but they said, “You can not have any Aspirin for your budgie because Parrottseatemall”!!. yes I know that’s an old joke, but you cannot beat the old one’s.

Although, having said that, my Great, Granny Florence once told me that when she was staying at the “While-we’re Young” retirement home, the staff would often beat the old one’s, but mind you she was prone to exaggeration

Stephen Ainley…..busy cutting Sunday’s paper into little squares.


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