I`ve just spent a penny …

Barney 004

Perhaps I`d better explain. In Uk the term `spending a penny` is an euphemism for visiting the bathroom. It originates from the times when public lavatories charged an old penny (pre decimal) to use the facilities – a sturdy bronze box attached to the front of each door into which the penny was dropped in order to gain entrance.

I bought the book shown above when it was first published in 1978 – a glorious history of the lavatory and washing facilities in general – beautifully illustrated with photographs (including Charles I`s magnificent `Thunder Box` – a portable loo which he used when traveling – embellished in red velvet with a seat made of the same material thoughtfully stuffed with horsehair. Just had a thought here – having sat on a sofa stuffed with horsehair as I child I can remember how it prickled – even through my clothes!!!!). There is also the lavatory used by Queen Victoria on her Royal Train – what a magnificent structure. Tripping down Memory Lane there is a picture of the three-seater that was in the cottage in Yorkshire where we lived during part of World War II. I can remember clearly my Mother bursting into tears when my Father (who had found the cottage to rent) showed her the outside lavatory – a scrubbed pine seat with large hole for Father, medium hole for Mother and a smaller one for me!

Many years ago I loaned the book to someone who did not return it – I have no idea who held onto my treasured book but not to worry. Life went on without it.

The other day I was browsing the Amazon site and, to my amazement, came across `Temples of Convenience` by Lucinda Lambton – my wonderful book, and the price – you`ve got to believe this – was ONE PENNY!

6 thoughts on “I`ve just spent a penny …

  1. I decided long ago not to loan a book to anyone when one of my treasured book didn’t come back home. So, just like the library does, I now allow a book to be checked out leaving me with a record of where it is along with the date. PS: Glad you found a duplicate of the one you lost long ago.


  2. Funny ending to the story. This brought back memories as we once rented a house and an older expat English couple lived next door. We were visiting them once when the woman suddenly said “Excuse me I’ve got to spend a penny” and we looked at each other bewildered until they explained.


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