Folks, hold up your left hand and take a good look at it. Did you use it to wipe your bottom today? No? Well lucky you, because quite a lot of people around the world did.
For many cultures, eating with the left hand is considered offensive, and now you know why.
Ripping bits of newspaper off a nail inside an outdoor dunny is definitely a step in the right direction, and also means you have something to read if there is enough light and the swarms of flies aren’t too thick.
Personally, I don’t miss the old outhouses; the stench rising from the pit below mixed with the smell of sawdust and the collection of creepy, crawly wildlife made for a memorable, and often speedy, toilet experience.
Still, as bad as ‘thunderboxes’ were, they were a major leap forward from our ancestors who had to ‘mop up’ with grass, leaves or the edges of smooth stones. The Romans preferred a sponge on a stick, while other societies used old cloth, or clumps of wool to remove their dags.
Meanwhile, ancient mariners employed the end of a frayed rope which was left dangling over the side of the ship to be cleaned by the rolling waves, while no doubt leaving some interesting patterns on the hull.
Anyway, my sudden interest in the history of bottom wiping occurred recently as I sat frustrated in, what turned out to be, a paperless cubicle. Fortunately I did find a rather inventive way out of my predicament, and while I won’t go into details, I would like to heartily salute the people who placed the numerous paper advertising flyers inside the extremely glossy, non-stick pages of the magazine I had just bought.
Thanks to them, I am gratefully typing this column with both hands.