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Corona was Different...

Pauline Nevins  April 18, 2020 - Auburn Journal


“We’re having a run on loo rolls over here,” my brother Kevan informed me during his call from England. “Loo rolls?” I said, initially confused. The call came just before lunch and my thoughts went to food – sausage rolls in particular.

“You’ve been in America too long,” Kevan said, laughing. Then the penny dropped. He was, of course, referring to the unfathomable hoarding of toilet paper in the U.K., as it is in the U.S.

Kevan and I went on to reminisce about our childhood in Britain, when the toilet paper nailed to the inside door of the outside lavatory were pages of The News of The World – nicknamed “The news of the Screws” because of its salacious content – a fitting final resting place, some said.


I stayed long enough at my mother’s house to experience the graduation from newspaper to toilet paper, albeit the waxy kind that did more harm than good. This subject was the topic of a conversation I’d had earlier in the U.S. with a friend.

“I have shelves of toilet paper and paper towels in my garage,” she confessed. “When I was a starving student I felt comforted when I had a supply of these products, even if I was short on food. I continued this habit even as I got older and better off.”

I didn’t pretend to understand.

Our conversation switched to families. Several months before “sheltering in place” became the norm, her 5-year-old grandson visited. My friend told me that one morning her grandson, who called her ‘Nene,’ asked to use the toilet. “Our guest bathroom was occupied,” she said, “so I led him to the toilet in my bedroom. I busied myself in the kitchen. Realizing he’d been gone a long time, I started to check on him when he reappeared.”


She asked her grandson if he was OK. She said he hesitated and then said, “Nene, why do you have a bafftub for your kitty cats?” 

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