The great toilet roll debate

To most people (and I sincerely hope that it is most people) this post will be a waste of time as it is so obvious.

But perhaps I am being too optimistic as, to my astonishment, I discovered the other day that some people are still ignorant (meaning that they didn’t know) of the correct way to load a toilet roll into a dispenser. I use the word ‘correct’ to mean the most beneficial. It was like finding someone who drove only ever using the reverse gear.

I was visiting an old friend and when I used their toilet I noticed that the toilet roll was falling into the wall.

“She’s an intelligent woman,” I thought, “why has she got this wrong?”

Afterwards I mentioned the error in a light hearted tone and asked her if it was just a simple mistake or a research project to find possible alternative configurations. This was the wrong approach and I could see her subconsciously preparing herself for a confrontation.

“What do you mean, ‘a mistake‘? What difference does it make how the toilet roll goes on?’

I then explained to her that if the roll falls away from the wall your dirty hand has more room to manoeuvre to grasp the paper and therefore less likely to touch the wall and contaminate it with bacteria. Also, some houses are shrines to artexing and even the toilet walls are pimpled with sharp plaster. Should your hand glance that stuff, an unpleasant graze can occur (this once actually happened to me).

Toilet roll diagram

I finished my explanation and expected an epiphany of understanding and a grateful reassurance that she would, in future, install the toilet roll in the correct configuration every time from now on.

Instead I got a scowl and an emotional outburst. She then attempted to prop up her configuration with specious arguments, one of which suggested that she consciously uses the left hand to grasp the paper and wipe with the other. I didn’t follow her reasoning too well because I was in a state of shock and awe.

To continue with the car analogy, I had just explained to her that the car has several other gears which allowed the car to be driven forwards and that the reverse gear is best left to reversing. By using the forward gears her journey will be more efficient, more pleasant and a lot safer.

Most people would be overjoyed in being shown a better way (somebody please confirm that they would). But my friend took umbrage and became more entrenched in her practice of using only the reverse gear. Maybe I could have approached the subject in a different way but why would anyone choose to stick with something that is shown to be inferior to another method?

Okay, we are only talking about a toilet roll here, but extrapolate… What if we were talking about political systems, business models, social services, peer review procedure..? If the evidence demonstrates a revolutionary new way of doing something is far better, is the old guard going to whoop with joy and switch immediately or will they fight their increasingly untenable corner?

So, are you an away from the wall or an into the wall person?

By the way, white toilet paper is less harmful to the environment than coloured paper.

PS It occurred to me that with a little leap of the imagination, newsprint could be the toilet roll in this story. Newspapers have enjoyed the ‘best installation’ position for centuries when it came to the dissemination of news but with the advent of the internet, printing presses seem as archaic today as the Spinning Jenny does. A good article on this here.

5 Responses to “The great toilet roll debate”

  1. Harrison says:

    Gentle Ihor, as you know, I’m a fan of your blog and enjoy everything you write. This though, is my favourite entry so far.

    For the record, I’m an ‘away from the wall’ person. Though at the moment, we don’t have a holder and the toilet roll sits atop the toilet cystern. Please can you tell me what this means?


  2. Ivor Tymchak says:

    Harrison, thanks for your kind words of encouragement. My best guess is that you are a Survivalist; when something is broken you find a workaround and eschew consumerism.

    Either that or you are just lazy.

  3. bathrooms says:

    You have explained this well, Have you been working on this a long time?? Do you think you have described everything correctly though I have noticed some common mistakes but I get the point your making? I will link your blog to mine.

  4. Appreciate scripting this. I adore the internet since learn new things everyday. I’ll share this with my girlfriends, many thanks!

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