Medieval toilet – Garderobe at
Peveril Castle, Derbyshire
It went down the pan! – but considering the subject of our chat and emails at the end of August I am really not surprised. Anyone who can spend a few hours discussing toilets via email and Googlechat– probably needs ‘Random Thoughts’.
We were going to meet ... all things being equal: but they weren’t and the important people were Sharon’s grandparents, who were obviously delighted to see her, but as she quickly realised were not at all well.
|Sharon and Macy|
Very difficult for Sharon ... as I’m sure her grandparents would have been so thrilled and emotionally charged up to see her, but would also have been dreading the day (a few days later) when she had to leave. I absolutely understand that her time with them would be very very precious, and I wasn’t going to take even an hour out of their lives.
|Macy and Peaches - who will|
be delighted to see Sharon again
So like some great plans –our meeting didn’t happen – one day.
Sharon called me up on chat with the words “I need help on an English word .. Would the toilet have been called the WC or the loo during World War II – and how do you spell ‘loo’?”
I thought she was going to ask me some intelligent question ... not what we called a lavatory, thunder-box, water closet, public convenience, toilet, loo ... when each term came into existence is another matter. So I was slightly taken aback .. but had a jolly good laugh!
An outhouse at Goat Peak,
6,305 ft (1,992m) above sea level
in the North Cascades,
It’s not easy though ... there’s long drop, privy, the bog, outside WC, dug-outs, gents, ladies, ... then there’s the name distinctions between the north or south of England ... and I’m sure Wales, Scotland and Ireland would have their own terms. Then there’s the modern polite terminology – washroom, restroom ...
Then there’s the phrase ‘I’m going to spend a penny’ – when slot machines were put on the outside of the door ... released for a penny ..... now it’s 30p?! Talk about inflation – but water is precious and does cost.
|Roman Public Conveniences|
Sharon gave me the background for her story – starting in London during WWII in a poor area, and then moves to Leek .... well honestly .... we’re talking leaks and now the storyline goes to Leek?! I have no idea how the conversation went with Gary in Leek ... perhaps he’ll enlighten us ... should we wish to be after I came across this comment conversation – I am not sure.
Betsy of MyFiveMen posted her Friday View of an auction site .. beautiful – but no port-a-john ... trouble could be brewing?! Fortunately the keys to the house arrive – so anxiety about this most basic of function turned to relief. JennyFreckles left a comment: “As for port-a-johns, I just read that a Dutch train operator is providing special plastic bags on their trains that don’t have toilets! Too gross!” Well, frankly I hope no-one from what was British Rail has that bright idea here - chamberpots would be better?!
Sharon in our chat mentions that she must get an English dictionary when she comes over – I’m not sure if she did or not .. but I’d found an extra one published in 1952, that my mother had in her flat ... sadly it is still here!
A while ago I’d bought “The Cambridge Encyclopedia of The English Language “– by David Crystal - he went on to be working with The British Library and was instrumental in the Exhibition “Evolving English” mounted by The British Library, I mentioned his accompanying book in this post.
This is what the critics have said about this Encyclopedia, while Wikipedia has some information on him – as well as links to his own site etc:
The back page blurb: This celebrated book offers a unique experience of the English language in all its richness and diversity. Clear and accessible, it abounds with insights into how the language evolved and how it works. Superbly illustrated throughout ... and is the most comprehensive general reference book on the history, structure and worldwide use of English ever written.
“This is a deeply impressive book, for it packs between two covers virtually everything any normal person might care to know about English.” The Washington Post Book World.
“.. bedazzles ... with an eye-popping presentation of .... the mother tongue” The New York Times.
“I have been unable to think of a question this book cannot answer .. I will risk predicting that Professor Crystal will not be superseded much before the message sent into space on Voyager I ... receives an answer.” The Times Literary Supplement.
I was going to show Sharon the tome – because I thought she might be interested in it ... then I went to AbeBooks for out of date books and found that it’s on offer for an incredibly low price (0.64p = one dollar!) – copies available in the States, the UK, Germany ... – not a lot more than you have to pay to spend a penny!
Green glazed toilet with pigsty model.
China, Eastern Han dynasty
25 – 220 AD
So sadly we didn’t meet – but I know a lot more about lavatories than I expected to learn .. and I’m able to suggest that some of you might be interested in Professor David Crystal’s book .. if you want more information – let me know.
A few questions and your help please ...
Word of warning: I’ve put back Word Verification – as I’ve been getting lots of anonymous wasters ... despite this I had another today who used WV – so watch your comments – and spam-delete them. Check your followers too – if you don’t recognise them: delete them.
Secondly ... re commenting – some of you are very kindly (and in my humble opinion doubling your own workload) by replying with an email as well. Is it not extra work? .. I don’t like being rude – and will usually jot a note back .. but it’s doubling my workload too. Also I see some of you don’t reply on the post itself .. which to me if I was a new commenter/follower would look like you’re not interested - .... I’d love to know what you think – please!
British WW2 era “pre-fabs”,
still in use, Birmingham, England
Other than that we go on ... and I can only hope that Sharon’s visit had many benefits over and above the huge loss that I know she will have felt on her return to the States.
Sharon has said she’s thinking about writing a book on toilets sometime – as she takes photographs of them ... is she a little odd?! “Gardez l’eau” if Sharon’s around by the sound of it ...
TheTelegraph – fascinating insight into prefabricated houses after the War .. including conditions, new status in prefab house ... inspiring historical update by a 91 year old, who still lives there – having thought he’d hate it!
PS .. I got my Landreth Seed note-cards today .. they are great and I'll post separately some photos ... but to add to the toilet information: Morning Glories are native to tropical America and arrived in Britain in 1621. The original morning glories were deep scarlet in colour. However because the New World morning glory resembled the Old World invasive weed, bindweed, the vine was not readily accepted in Europe. Largely neglected until the Victorian era, the morning glory gained popularity as a way to disguise moveable privies.
Dancing in the Shadows of Love: Congratulations – I forgot yesterday! KarenG, Rubye, Patricia and Theresa ... you gals left your email and expressed an interest – so you are the 4 winners. Judy Croome has said she’d send the four of you whichever version you would like ... OR:If they all prefer print I’ll send them print copies (it is a story more suited to reading as a print copy)
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories