An Inconvenient Convenience

We have perceptions of where we fit in the world be it place or time.  I think of myself as being a fairly modern creature having spent my childhood in the 60’s when technology was on the rampage and consumerism was burgeoning after the post war austerity years.  All it took was one old black and white photograph and a host of nearly forgotten memories of a 4 year old Denny boy to burst that particular bubble.

With coincidences seemingly now well established as integral to my normal daily routine, today yet another shuffled in and sat down in front of me waving its interconnected strands. A few days after the photo appeared on a Facebook page a “one-liner”, by my fellow blogging lowlander Old Mortality, made an inadvertent  connection.

“This has nothing to do with bringing electric light to the poor benighted folk of Denny. (there will be time enough for that later after they get inside toilets.)”

The upper centre and right facing windows were ours

I lived in an upstairs flat of that building in the photo.  None of the properties had inside toilets.  Such amenities were provided for by a brick built row of WCs across the yard to the rear.  It was quite an operation going to the toilet: down the outside stairs and across the yard to the dark doors beyond.  I can still close my eyes and smell the distinctive whiff of burning paraffin from the little heater my folks put into the loo on the cold winter nights.

It was a lonely place.  It wasn’t just the fact there were no other kids in these two blocks…there was nobody else at all by the time we moved out.  I was about 6 years old by that time.  Odd though…I don’t remember ever thinking it creepy.

The downstairs looks inhabited in the 1954 photo of the local Gala Day.  It wasn’t when I was there circa 1958.  I remember the room on the left (facing), where someone is standing in the door, being a washhouse with a big sink and mangle for squeezing the clothes through.

About 1960 it was the subject of a  compulsory purchase order, I assume to allow a road improvement on what was the main Glasgow to Stirling Road.

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8 thoughts on “An Inconvenient Convenience”

  1. Funny old world, eh ?
    Still, Denny’s come a long way since then – what was that architectural award it won for the town centre ?
    I am resisting the temptation to trade reminiscences as it would likely end up like the “Four Yorkshiremen” sketch

    1. Carbuncle of the Year I think it was. The town centre action group applied for it to get some publicity. That embarrassed the Council no end when it made national news. 😆

      I think you were contemplating the use of such statements as…

      “We used to live in hole in’t road”

      …or similar. 😀

  2. I remember as a child visiting an aunt’s in Colwyn Bay for a holiday where the outside toilet consisted of a large tin can which the ‘night soil men’ emptied once a week. Indelibly imprinted on my tender young memory.

    1. This explains your apparently desperate meed to go camping and bothying – the prospect of outdoor facilities. The damage that can be done to the young, eh…being made to go to Clowyn Bay I meant! 😉

  3. I have some very vague recollections of using the outdoor toilets at my nans place when I was a nipper – I hated the cobwebs and spiders that lurked in there. Still hate the 8 legged freaks – wrong they are!

    Mrs SnS would hate outside toilets – she needs alot of nightime visits

    1. Thank you for sharing your dear lady’s nightime toilet habits with us Andy. I’ll mention it in my email to her. I think you might be finding a few “8 legged freaks” lurking in the “bowl” the next time you visit. Remember to check! 😉

  4. Apropos the imprint on Simon;s memory.
    Did you you know that the natives of Galashiels are known to other Borderers as Pail Marks ( pronounced pile merks). This because, reputedly, Gala was the last of the Border towns to get mains sewage and its inhabitants had on a circular mark imprinted on their backsides from pooing in a pail.
    Just thought I’d share that with you

    ( Hole in the road ? that were luxury. No stop it !)

    1. More toilet facts…superb! 😀

      Little did I know that, when I intimated the blog would be re-inventing itself, it would be delving the undeniably murky depths of waste and sanitation.

      On the bright side I can’t really take offence when someone describes it as a pile of crap! 😀

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