On having grown up with an outside toilet

11th September 2016:

Until I was 11 we lived in house that had an outside toilet. Looking back this is eminently sensible, not to say hygienic. However sense and hygiene don’t really come into it when you have negotiate a back yard and toilet teeming with spiders on summer night when you’re 8 years old.

In fact all our family had outside loos including my mothers parents who had a large house with a bathroom but no inside toilet. This always struck me as being slightly odd. As anyone will tell you who’s lived like this, an outside toilet necessitates the use of chamber pots too.

Now, as my oldest and best friend is apt to point out I come from a fairly sizeable line of formidable drinkers. My mother’s father, my Grandfather, Billy, being no exception, in fact his drinking habits could be described as arch and are unheard of these days. Billy at his height, could down-charge up to 30 pints a day! He was a asphalter though, and the work is hard, physical and hot. So he’d work up a fair thirst during the morning before lunchtime at the Church Inn, Newton Heath.

Needless to say Billy, after a right old session could fill a ‘jerry’ without much trouble and this would need emptying the following morning. They were a large family and my grandma needed everyone to do their bit around the house. My uncle Terry was on piss pot duty, a job, as you can imagine, he hated.

A porcelain chamber pot is quite a heavy item empty. Full of ‘lemonade’ it’s very heavy. Requiring the carrier to steady the pot with their thumb on top of the handle in order not to slosh pee all over the place. This being the case Terry used to call these brimming vessels, ‘thumb-dippers’. When I fist heard this term I thought it absolutely hilarious!

Still makes me smile even now.

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