Sunday, October 11, 2009

My name IS Susan

Liking - when my work is posted in online papers
Not liking - when they forget to put my name on it

Anyway, this rant IS mine...

Friday October 09 2009

FOR years I wondered why I could not look the Andrex puppy in the eye.

The choice between two-ply and four-ply would reduce me to a gibbering wreck in the supermarket aisle.

It turns out that I have been suffering from PTS all this time -- Post-Toiletgate Stress -- and I didn't even know it.

I only realised the depth of my trauma when I opened the papers this week and read about the young tykes in a Co Cork national school who have been asked to bring their own toilet roll to school with them.

It all came flooding back to me.

The very same request was made of us in our primary school in the early 1980s. I had a sudden flashback to rolls piled up along the corridor outside the classroom door, a child's name marked in felt-tip across the edge of each one. But try as I might, I can't remember the shame and horror of it all.

Listening to the shocked reaction of parents, politicians and social commentators these past few days over the fate of the kiddies in St John's Girls' NS in Carrigaline, I'm thinking there must surely have been a similar outcry when we got the toilet roll call in the 80s.

After all, as one parent said this week: "This is like something Frank McCourt might have written about growing up in the 1930s."

Think again, lady. This was 50 years on. I must have been scarred for life, mustn't I?

Perhaps I have suppressed it as part of some desperate coping mechanism. So I ring my mother to check if she chained herself to the railings of the Department of Education in the Eighties to protest at the budgetary constraints that doomed her child to carry bog roll to school.

"Ah no," she says, "there wasn't much about it. A few parents grumbled but as I said at the time, at least we're gone from the stage of wiping yourself with a dock leaf."

Hardy woman, my mum.

Far from marching on the school, she sent me off with a warning on the dangers of profligacy.

"I told you not to throw half the roll down the toilet in one go," she says, "And you replied, 'I won't share it neither'."

No wonder we made it out the other side of the Eighties with eight-year-olds espousing that sort of penny-pinching philosophy.

If I remember rightly, we were only too delighted to bring a roll in from home. We hated the old school-supplied stuff that felt like greaseproof paper and was about as useful for the job in hand.

It is understandable that people are upset this week that our school cutbacks have come to this. In the context of the 80s, it didn't seem as shocking to have a headmaster send out a note asking for help in such a delicate area.

Many of our parents' generation could still relate to a time when there were no indoor toilets or bathrooms.

We weren't that far removed from wiping our bottoms with the nearest handful of foliage.

To face into that scenario again 25 years on is a terrible indictment of the country. Children grow up in houses that often have more than one bathroom, often two or three.

Master bedrooms have ensuites, kids have their own toilet. To have to suddenly think about where the next sheet of toilet paper is coming from is a big shock.

It really shows that little has fundamentally changed in the hierarchy of who pays for this country's basic needs.

Around the time my mother was stuffing a roll of Homestead's best into my schoolbag, Charlie Haughey was telling us to tighten our belts in between mouthfuls of foie gras and swigs of fine wine.

Now parents find themselves dipping back into their own pockets again and why?

Because poor government regulation and reckless State spending has flushed our children's trust fund down the toilet

No comments:

Post a Comment