No, I haven’t dispensed with my bottom, given up eating for good or undergone radical colonic surgery – it’s the empty ones I don’t need. I looked at the collection of empty toilet rolls loitering sadly beside the bin in my bathroom and waiting patiently to be moved into the recycling bin, when it suddenly hit me. I don’t need them any more.
Time was I collected them faithfully for activities which involved my children. I don’t believe there was ever a ‘make-and-do’ slot on Blue Peter that did not call for the obligatory brown cardboard roll, never a crafty evening in Girls Friendly Society that did not insist on empty toilet rolls, or a school’s art day that didn’t need the cylinders, especially for making doll people in the naivety scenes or fat sausage dogs on leads.
Over the years I got used to hoarding the empty rolls, sometimes adding an elongated tube or two from kitchen-film or tin-foil dispensers, and they travelled into school or were used in playtime at home. We never had stick-thin people; no our cardboard people were always lovely and fat, chubby as Santa Claus himself, even baby Jesus was a roly-poly in the crib.
So, when I looked at the tired old soldiers lined up in the bathroom, some at attention and others listing to starboard, I had a sudden ache of sadness that they were going straight into the recycling bin and their useful lives were over, in my home at any rate.
I’m sure there are many more striking milestones to signal your offsprings’ departure from childhood, but the obsolescence of those honest brown cardboard rolls was a poignant and powerful marker to me.