Nottingham 2016’s v 1954’s Trips to the Lav’
I wake in the middle of the night regularly nowadays here in the new flat, in urgent need of the facilities in the bathroom. Often called the toilet, loo, bog, privvie, ****house or Outhouse over the years.
The Inchcock household used to call it the Lav (Lavatory).
Nowadays, getting to the ‘Lav’ is easy peasy compared to how I had to struggle in 1954 to get to the outside ‘Lav’ – a brick built up against the railway viaduct wall that carried the trains that shook the bog and house everytime an express went past. Adjoined to the row of other WC’s and coal houses.
Today, I arise, convince my arthritis to allow me the short few yards walk to the ‘Lav’, put the light on, do my business, wash my hands in hot water, using carbolic soap or washing up liquid, dry myself, hang the towel back up turn off the light and hobble the best part of eight feet back to the 1954 imitation leather armchair with the collapsing with age arms, and back to kip.
There is so little in comparison to what I had to go through to do the same from 1952 to 1954! Except the carbolic soap, I’ve alway liked the smell of that, it reminds me of a girl who use to work in service I knew. Big gal, Margaret, solid as a rock and always up for a bit of… oh, I lost the plot there, sorry.
I can still get the carbolic soap off a stall in Victoria Market, in fact, I might have nip into town on Monday and get some more in.
In the Good old Days of 1954ish, here is what a trip to the ‘Lav’ meant going through:
I’d wake up, usually when the 0125 hr (Then the 0225hrs and so on) London express train belted by the house and shook the bedroom, roof slates would fall off, windows would rattle, ice would fall off the windows in winter, the light would swing about (Not that I had a bulb in it very often, Dad didn’t like to waste money) and shook the whole place for a minute or so after it had gone.,
I would remove the great coats, Dad’s old uniform jackets and the blanket off of the bed, then get out from beneath, feeling so cold, and step onto the oh so cold lino-covered floor and generally, kick the Guzunder, or tip it over.
Then the struggle to get some of the freezing clothes on top of the jammies to help keep me warm on the journey, for it certainly was a journey going to the Outside ‘Lav’ in those days.
I had to be careful not to make any noise that would wake Dad up, or I’d be in for it!
Taking care not to knock the tin Guzunder against anything, I start down the wooden uncarpeted, unlit stairs down to the Kitchen. I knew which of the stair treads creaked and would avoid them. Not easy when trying not to spill the wee from the gazunder I was carrying so as to empty it in the ‘Lav’.
Some of the other residents had lagged the ‘Lav’s’ pipes and made them look almost homely. (Which they were compared to ours, and even our house!). Dad thought this a was another waste of money.
Then to unlock the back door quietly, it had three well-rusted bolts, no locks.
Then the challenge of getting across the yard to the ‘Lav’, if I ran, difficult carrying the guzunder mind, I’d not get so cold. So a mad dash and into the ‘Lav’. Try not to bang the door, empty the Guzunder and do my business.
This could prove a hiatus in my actions because often in winter the pipes would freeze-up.
The return journey was fraught with danger. I dare not pull the chain because our WC was a lot noisier than the others for some reason.
Out from the cold dark ‘Lav’ into the cold dark night, across the yard and into the cold dark house.
No hot water to wash my hands in of course cold was available providing the pipes hadn’t frozen.
Getting up the stairs without causing any creaking of the stair steps was difficult. With my little legs getting over two to avoid the noisy ones was hard, sometimes I dropped the Guzunder. Dad would appear as soon as the clattering started on the Gazunder’s way down the stairs, he’d smilingly belt-me around the head, pick me up and throw me into my so-called bedroom while informing me of the consequences of any repeat performance of waking him up again!
Early in the morning (0415 hrs) Dad would kindly belt on the bedroom door, informing me it was time to get up and go to the paper shop for my morning newspaper delivery round.