HISTORY, ROMANCE AND...CATS!
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a vet by day and author of intelligent historical fiction by night. Grace is an avid reader and believes that smart people need to read romance - as an antidote to the modern world!
Grace is also obsessed by all things feline.
Now as you might have gathered, I’m a fan of the Regency. However…and it’s a big but…I wouldn’t want to live there. The reason (or one of them…) the lack of flushing plumbing! I couldn’t be doing with chamber pots, closed stools and ceespits…give me u-bends and Armitage-Shanks every time.
I suspect I’m not alone in this, and neither, so it seems, am I alone in the confusion over what to call a toilet. Apparently there is a world wide reticence to say the word ‘toilet’ or ‘lavatory’ in public.
I love this story of an English lady in the 1930’s, who was accosted at a party by a drunken man, wanting to know where the toilet was. Her icy reply was;
‘On the left of the entrance hall you will find a door marked ‘Gentlemen’. Disregard the warning, go right in and you’ll find what you want.’
In England the reluctance to say the word toilet, led to a litany of euphemisms including;
In the early 20th century the more polite amongst us might have asked about
“the geography of the house”
“To use the cloak room”
And this shyness is nothing new. There is a biblical reference to “the place where one cover’s one’s feet” and in 1653 Richard Codrington wrote in ‘The Mirror of History’ of “the stool of easement”. The Danes, almost poetically ask for “The place where the King goes alone,” and in a similar vien the French for “Where the king goes on foot.”
A Stone Toilet.
In Wales it was the ‘ty back’ or ‘little house’, in reference to an outside privy. Indeed, one American entrepreneur, Lem Putt, who became known as ‘the champion privy builder of SangamonCounty’ had theis sage advice about where to site an outside toilet.
“Put her in a straight line with the house, past the wood pile. I’ll tell you why. Take a timid woman; if she sees any men folk around, she’s too bashful to go direct out so she’ll go to the woodpile, pick up wood and go back to the house. On a good day you’ll have the wood box filled by noon.”
Yep, indoor six inch diameter, flushing plumbing every time please!