Monday, 4 August 2008

Shake, Rattle and Roll

A long time ago in a place far, far away a man said to me:

"If you vote Conservative in your twenties you've got no conscience. If you vote Labour in your thirties you've got no money."

I didn't believe him then, and, perhaps more importantly (now I'm deep into my 30's) I don't believe him still. Or maybe I just haven't got enough money... But, although the principle is wrong the sentiment has some truth in it. The older we get, the more we change. I have seen more than enough of my parents in my own parental behaviour to drive me to despair. Every day I am faced with the heinous recognition that my eldest sons latest cry of "its not fair" is a retort to one of my own fathers favorite idioms that has just tripped off my tongue. And each time I'm reminded of Larkin's poem, 'This be the verse'. I can remember making vehement pacts with myself that I would never be such a mean old bastard, I would let my kids do what they wanted... But now, well, I'm bloody right and the boy's wrong: life is unfair. So there.

I've changed in other ways too, and recently these changes have been UC instigated. I was reflecting on an aspect of this yesterday as I trawled round Tesco doing our (approximately) fortnightly shop. It was in the loo roll aisle that I was reminded of that quote above. How my attitude to bum wiping has changed...

When I was a kid I barely gave toilet paper a second thought. It may have momentarily entered my consciousness that each roll was colour-coordinated depending on whether it was in the bathroom or downstairs loo (my memory says green for downstairs and peach for the bathroom, but that could be the other way round. Actually my mother still does it, and I still don't take it in properly - are there people who would sit in there and think to themselves "Tut, the toilet paper doesn't even match the walls. Lazy cow."?), but otherwise the only place it really mattered was at school. This was because in the unlikely event that I went for a poo at school (surely this was one of the things most feared at school - or was it just me?) the clean up operation would have to be conducted on what could only be described as tracing paper. How anybody in their right minds could conceive that that stuff was going to be even slightly useful in removing the offending objects from ones tender behind is utterly unfathomable. All it managed to do was broaden the issue, whilst simultaneously being quite painful.

Once I'd left home to be a student toilet roll was never high on my shopping priorities. In fact we were more than happy to buy the cheapest available. In my house we persevered with this throughout our tenure despite the inevitable drawbacks. As I see it value or economy loo paper usually demonstrates one of two unwelcome attributes: EITHER it is made of some substance that is somewhere between sandpaper and card (sort of like compressed woodchips) which (whilst having superlative wiping power in comparison to the school stuff) is guarenteed to lacerate your poor bottom - especially after a night out/curry; OR it has all the strength of real tissue paper, leading to unwanted, but frankly dishearteningly predictable, finger-bottom contact. Despite sitting on the loo on innumerable occasions with either tears streaming from my eyes, or the dejected slump of someone who has just accidently used his fingers, we never ever ever, upgraded...

And, in fact, I persevered with the same old cheapo loo roll well into my relationship with my now-wife. The onset of kids didn't even change me - we were poor, see. But it did introduce the concept of 'wipes' into the bathroom, which have added a soothing aspect to proceedings.
However, the dual factors of increasing household income and UC have changed my outlook completely. Not only have I finally eschewed economy stuff, but i have moved slowly through the loo roll ranks to finally embrace not just ultra soft, but QUILTED! Oh God, that stuff is sooooo good. It's strong, absorbent, soft and caresses my poor sick bottom with a gossamer touch. I don't care how much it costs. I don't even care whether it's recycled or not. Stuff the money, stuff the environment, this is my bum we're talking about. If you use economy loo roll in your 20's you haven't got any money, if you're still using it in your 30's you haven't got an IBD...