On the blog

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Thank you letter straight from our heart

Here at Toilet Twinning we’ve got lots to be thankful for, and it’s all down to you, our supporters.  So instead of writing a letter to Santa at the North Pole, we’re putting a virtual pen to paper to say a resounding 'Thank You' to you all.

Letters in the post: US Christmas postage stamp depicting a mail box, issued on 21 October 1977
Back in November, we set out to encourage 50 generous people to twin their toilets on World Toilet Day, 19 November.  Not only did you smash this record for us by about half way through the day, but by midnight we’d received 96 twinning requests!  

Generous gifts: Faroese stamp illustrating a traditional Christmas counting song. The gifts include: one feather, two geese, three sides of meat, four sheep, five cows, six oxen, seven dishes, eight ponies, nine banners and ten barrels
This month, generosity has overtaken you once again.  Twins to date are more than 30% up on the same period last year.  That’s a huge increase at a time when we know many people are planning a relatively frugal Christmas.

What's in the toe of the stocking? Christmas stamp issued by South Korea, 1960
In fact you are now not far short of having twinned 20,000 toilets (we’re expecting to be able to make that announcement next month), which is a brilliant result when you consider it was only July when you passed the 15,000 milestone.  

Like an Angel: Two Christmas stamps from Ukraine, with a Kiev postmark
Don’t forget you can still twin toilets for last-minute presents, by downloading a voucher.  The framed certificates will follow in the post.  

Presenting gifts: Postage stamp issued by Latvia in 1992 depicting the Christmas nativity: The Wise Men visit Jesus
But in the meantime, feel pleased with yourselves, and THANK YOU!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Aid DOES make a difference

Why not mark World Toilet Day, 19 November, by twinning a toilet you use - maybe in your office, or somewhere you visit like a cinema or cafe? It’s a great way to get the Toilet Twinning message out so that more people can help flush away poverty.

These stories from Ethiopia and Uganda spell out the benefits of having a clean, decent and accessible loo - something that 2.5 billion people worldwide are still without.

‘Before we had a toilet, we were not interested in working in the fields, because the smell was pungent and the field was full of excrement,’ says Amanuel from Ethiopia.
Amanuel and his wife Meselech with their two daughters and their latrine [photo: Richard Hanson/Toilet Twinning]
Now he and his wife Meselech cultivate cabbage, potato, tomato, carrots, beetroot and false banana to feed their family. What’s more, their two daughters have never suffered from diarrhoea.  

The reason? Toilet Twinning funded Ethiopia’s Kale Heywet Church to show the couple how to build a latrine using local materials. They also gave them training and advice on keeping their bodies, house and compound healthy and hygienic, stressing the importance of using soap and clean water.  

‘After the toilet was built, our environment became clean and we wanted to work.’ says Amanuel, adding ‘Now, we are in the field and get fresh air. We are much healthier. My compound is clean. It makes me want to be productive.’

William and Annette Nkwansibwe from Uganda also have a new latrine, which they built themselves, using materials found around their property and sticks they could buy locally.
William and Annette Nkwansibwe [photo Vernon Kingsley/Toilet Twinning]
But the real difference in their lives now is that they also have the knowledge to go with the latrine: they know they need to keep their latrine enclosed and to wash their hands. They also know they need to keep their cleaning and drinking water separate.

Now they rarely get sick.

This gift of knowledge, this fresh confidence, came through Toilet Twinning’s Ugandan partner the Diocese of Kigezi, which has been running its water and sanitation programme in Kabale district for more than 35 years.

Through Toilet Twinning funding, the Diocese of Kigezi were also able to teach Ugandan mother Vivien Birunga to build a latrine.  They added in hygiene and handwashing education too. 'I don't need to borrow money to pay for medicine since having my latrine and learning about hygiene,' she says. A little bit of knowledge has saved Vivien an awful lot of money. More than that, it’s given her dignity and hope.

Thank you for supporting Toilet Twinning.
World Toilet Day, 19 November

Monday, 11 November 2013

Guerrilla Twinning Puts a Tiger in the Toilet

Skelmersdale’s St Paul’s Church of England Church is indulging in a bit of friendly fire for this year’s World Toilet Day, 19 November.  The church, which has already twinned its own loos with latrines in Burundi, is now spearheading some ‘guerrilla twinning’ of toilets in its local community.  A harvest festival collection of £500, made into a toilet bowl naturally, kicked off the fundraising activities which have also included a screening of the film ‘Flushed Away’.

Chris Spittle gets close to a tiger in a toilet at The Jungle soft play area
Reverend Chris Spittle, vicar of St Paul’s, explained the reason behind this unusual activity: ‘Toilet Twinning is a great way to strengthen our links with the community while doing something tangible to help people overseas, and the way that it has all snowballed is rather incredible.’  

More than 15,000 people in the UK have already twinned their toilets, but St Paul’s Church is bringing a new twist to the idea.  Church members drew up a ‘hitlist’ of loos in their local community which they wanted to donate Toilet Twinning certificates to, and then voted for their favourites.

Young people from St Paul's vote for their favourite Skelmersdale places to be added to the 'hitlist' for guerrilla twinning

‘When we approached our “targets” to ask their permission some thought that we were asking them to pay, which actually they were willing to do, so we had to explain that St Paul’s was doing this as a gift to them,’ said Mr Spittle.

Judging by the reaction so far, the idea is going down a storm.  The town’s Ecumenical Centre,  The Greenhill Community Hub, and Trinity Church of England/Methodist Primary School in Kiln Lane, are all accepting twins with latrines overseas.  Asda supermarket in Ingram, The Jungle soft play area in Westgate, and West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper, are also delighted to be on St Paul’s invitation list.  

‘Everyone has been really enthusiastic and loved the idea and most of the recipients are now talking about twinning the rest of their toilets.’ Mr Spittle said, adding: ‘Our church Beavers, Cubs and Scouts suggested doing a sponsored sit on the toilet in the foyer of Asda.  The Asda staff liked the idea so much, they’re talking about doing the same thing so that they can twin all of their staff toilets.’    

Beavers, Cubs and Scouts start their fundraising 'toilet sit' in the foyer of Asda Skelmersdale
(all photos: St Paul's Skelmersdale)
Helen Broady, Community Life Champion for Asda Skelmersdale, explained why the church’s gift had spurred them to make more latrine links: 'It's a privilege to accept the toilet twinning, because we do a lot of work in the local community but this gives us the chance to do something international. It's a great way for us to reach farther afield.'

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Undercarriage Urgency

Four out of 10 public toilets are reported to have closed in the past decade, increasing our collective fear of being ‘caught short’.  And aside from embarrassment, there could be more serious implications for those with existing health issues who urgently need a private pit stop.  

What’s more, The Stroke Association’s Dr Clare Walton, says ‘not being able to empty your bladder could potentially cause a temporary increase in blood pressure which could put some individuals at risk of stroke.'    

Public latrine in Ethiopia
Few and far between: public toilets, such as this roadside example, are a rarity in Ethiopia.
Could the UK be going the same way?
Photo: Louise Thomas/Tearfund

Other recent news has highlighted the shocking truth that ‘flying care’ has become so swift that housebound dependent people are having to choose between asking for a drink or a toilet visit in the care provider’s turnaround time.

Meanwhile, many health professionals, from urologists to bowel cancer specialists, expend considerable effort to get us to open up about our undercarriage problems and get abnormalities checked out sooner rather than later.

Of course, most of us in the developed world are blessed with good healthcare and access to private toilets most of the time.  In the world’s poorer countries this is unlikely to be the case for many people.  Consider being a mother who can’t hold urine or bowel content owing to fistula (a hole between the birth passage and an internal organ such as the bladder or rectum, caused by complications in labour)  or a child with diarrhoea, or an elderly person with low mobility and a weak bladder - and not having access to a latrine.

But perhaps between us we can harness our health fears, our social embarrassment fears, our professional knowledge of healthcare, or our love of fitness and exercise and channel these energies into spreading the word about Toilet Twinning.  And maybe if you work in the health field, whether for the NHS, a private health provider or a fitness organisation such as a health or
sports club, you could start fundraising to twin a toilet?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Doing the defecation walk

You don’t imagine, when you send your child off to school in the morning, that they are going to spend the afternoon doing a ‘defecation walk’.  But that’s just what happened to pupils from Teddington’s St Mary’s and St Peter’s CE Primary School at the end of the summer term.

Doing the defecation walk.  [all photos Louise Thomas/Tearfund]

The school, which is situated opposite Tearfund’s HQ, has enthusiastically taken up the Toilet Twinning challenge and aims to twin all 43 of their loos. So Tearfund’s water and sanitation expert, Frank Greaves, thought they should be treated to some insider knowledge.   

Setting out his collection of plastic poo (sourced from a local joke shop) in Tearfund’s sunny courtyard, he invited his visitors to consider the hazards of open defecation.  Fortunately, the model faeces were not so realistic as to attract the London bluebottle brigade.  But Mr Greaves had strategically sited them next to children’s toys, a water source and some food, to explain the risks to his fascinated crowd.

Poo and play: not a good mix
Moving swiftly on, he challenged the visitors to a bit of maths while getting their hands wet.  His scheme was to allow the nine pupils to wash their hands in a variety of ways: with a standard tap, a watering can, water from a jerry can fitted with a tap, or a tippy tap.  This last is a small water-filled jerry can suspended from a branch or post, with a hole in its lid.  Lacking a branch, Mr Greaves had seconded what looked like a keyboard stand, but it did the job and added a certain something to the sense of rhythm. Tipping the can lid downwards allows a small quantity of water to come out, while letting go rights the balance and saves the remaining water.  Sophisticated models can be tipped by means of a treadle on a string, with soap on another string alongside.

Tip up that tippy tap

Naturally, this being a learning experience, the quantity of water used for each hand washing method had to be recorded on a clipboard.

And here are the results:

Water source for
hand washing
Average quantity of water
used per person
1300 ml
Watering can
500 ml
Jerry can with tap
325 ml
Tippy tap
150 ml

So the tippy tap was the clear winner, which is just as well because it has the best name.  But only a wild optimist or maybe an extreme kind of eco warrior would expect us all to rig tippy taps up in UK homes. Instead, here’s a tip: when hand washing, wet your hands, switch the tap off while you soap them and switch it on again to rinse.   It’s a tippy tappy-esque way to reduce consumption for those of us without the real thing.

But back in the sunny courtyard, Mr Greaves had a serious message to impart to the nine from over the road.  He wanted them to know that understanding why you are doing something helps you to adopt it wholeheartedly, no matter whether you are in London or Liberia.

So when Toilet Twinning gets alongside people in communities overseas where there is no proper sanitation, it invites them to question traditionally-held beliefs and customs.  There is no need for plastic poo for the defecation walks because there is plenty of the real thing.  And flies a-go-go. People are challenged to consider how much time they spend collecting water and what they could be doing instead, such as growing food or going to school.  They are introduced to the connection between a lack of decent sanitation and diarrhoea, a major cause of child mortality in our world.  And they already know how costly medicines are, but they need to gain a realistic hope of good health.

And the result is they are brought to a place where they want to put time into building latrines or improving access to clean water - for example by using water filters - which they will manage and maintain.  Knowledge is power wherever you are!

If you have connections with a school, why not ask if you can give a Toilet Twinning talk using our assembly plan and resources - including our popular poo stickers - here: www.toilettwinning.org/resources/

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Latrines, lifelines and links: the view from Ethiopia

‘I was persistently sick. One time, the sickness lasted three months and I came near to death.  Our lives are very greatly changed because we have a toilet.  We still struggle to grow enough to eat and life is hard, but the toilet has made such a difference.’  

These are the words of Ethiopian Tirame Ayago (55 years old), and they illustrate the enormous benefits of gaining access to a latrine.   

Tirame outside her latrine [photo: Richard Hanson/Toilet Twinning]
Toilet Twinning wanted to take a peep behind the scenes to find out about the thinking that goes into bringing about changes like these.  So we asked Tadesse Dadi, Tearfund’s programme support advisor based in Ethiopia, to write this blog:

Tadesse Dadi [photo: Louise Thomas/Tearfund]
My daughter has just completed her high school in Addis Ababa with very good exam results. This was a great joy for the whole family and we praised God for it.  
I still remember the first day my wife and I took her to nursery school. She was very happy and was looking forward to playing with the other children and finding new toys. A week or so later, though, we had to keep her at home for a few days until she recovered from a bout of diarrhoea. It was clear that poor hygiene and sanitation at the school were the cause of this.
Those of us who have had the privilege of bringing up babies and infants know how vulnerable they are to infection in their early years. Poor nutrition and unhealthy environments associated with poverty take a huge toll on young lives. The statistics are alarming: pneumonia and diarrhoea are leading killers of the world’s youngest children, accounting for 18 and 11 per cent of deaths respectively. This equates to more than two million lives lost each year.  
Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene are all contributory factors. Together they account for nearly 90 per cent of deaths due to diarrhoea worldwide.  
I recently learnt about the ‘F’ diagram, which shows the route taken by disease-causing pathogens, from faeces to our food and water. These pathogens are helped along their way by fingers, fluids, flies, fields and floors. The first line of defence is to block the path of the pathogens through safe disposal of faeces - in other words, using latrines.  
This is not a new idea!  In the Bible, God instructed the Israelites: “Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.” (Deuteronomy 23:12-14, NIV). This is clear instruction to us to erect ‘primary’ barriers to prevent disease transmission.  
We also know that handwashing with soap, particularly after using the toilet or changing nappies, is an essential habit for all of us.  
So creating an understanding of the link between the way we dispose of faeces on the one hand, and killer diseases such as diarrhoea on the other, is the first step in tackling the problem. Once that understanding is created, then sustainable solutions to problems - such as taboos surrounding the use of pit latrines - usually come from within the communities we are working with.
On a recent visit to the Turkana area of Northern Kenya, I found awareness of the problems among the villagers, but a lack of action. Most of the 50 or so households in the village did not have pit latrines. So while the risk of open defecation was well understood, the cost of constructing a pit latrine was prohibitive.
As development practitioners we need to bring people to the point where they understand that investing in pit latrines saves lives, so that the solution is owned by the community, not imposed from outside.
In Turkana a lady in the group I was talking to proposed a local way to reduce the latrine cost. She drew a diagram on the sandy ground to show us that the top of the pit could be covered by locally available poles, with twigs and earth on top of them.  
I left the area on a positive note, knowing that it is possible to save lives – by looking for local solutions. Enabling people to solve their own problems truly empowers them to be creative.  
Thank you Tadesse!
Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and World Health Organisation. 2005. Sanitation and Hygiene: programming guidance.  WHO Press, Geneva.
UNICEF. 2012.  Pneumonia and diarrhoea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world’s poorest children. New York.  www.childinfo.org/publications
Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. 2010 . Hygiene and sanitation software: an overview of approaches.   Geneva

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Reasons to be cheerful

Jolly Rwomushana, a Ugandan mother of three, has reasons to celebrate. Her family life has been transformed thanks to Toilet Twinning.  

Jolly outside her latrine.  Photo: Vernon Kingsley
For years her children, aged six, 14 and 19, suffered frequent bouts of sickness thanks to diarrhoea and worms.  And in the dry period, March to October, lack of clean water meant conjunctivitis spread like wildfire. Her family was part of an uncomfortable statistic: more than 30% of rural Ugandans have no access to decent drinking water.

And although they had a latrine, its lack of roof afforded no privacy. Instead it offered up swarms of flies, which flitted back and forth to their kitchen area.

Sickness frequently ruled out regular school attendance for the children. The  family found themselves in a time-consuming round of hospital trips,  expensive medical fees and equally expensive medicines. And time spent away from their fields brought risk of reduced yields, which they could ill afford.

But then Toilet Twinning was able to help through its Ugandan development partner Diocese of Kigezi. It showed the family how to construct a proper latrine and taught them the importance of hygiene and handwashing. Simple measures such as covering a latrine with a cap and a stick handle, to guard against flies, can make a huge difference to health.

What’s more, the Diocese have helped villagers construct a giant rainwater harvesting tank at the school, so the children can have clean water there.
Life is no picnic for Jolly, even now. Recent scant rainfall has caused the rainwater tanks to run low, so the children have to bring in their own water to school - water which takes time to collect.
But among the life-saving lessons learnt, her children now know water needs to be boiled before it can be used for hand-washing and drinking. And that simple process alone makes all the difference in the world, not just to the children’s health but also to their future.

Friday, 7 June 2013

School Support Report

Most of us probably have some toilet-related memories from our schooldays. And they may not necessarily be happy ones!  

But for many school pupils round the UK today, toilets are becoming synonymous with twinning thanks to their enthusiastic adoption of Toilet Twinning as a focus for fundraising.

It’s a natural partnership - toilet humour ranks pretty high on the junior school joke list.  And older students don’t forget the serious nature of the problem: for example, in Africa, half of young girls who drop out of school do so because they need to collect water, often from many miles away.  

So while many schools have been fundraising hard, and having fun into the bargain, it’s also great to hear news of some help they’ve had along the way from others.  
Etone College students show off their Toilet Twinning certificates .  They are joined by Seddon Construction staff in  the new school block.
Nuneaton’s Etone College are shortly going to be enjoying a new ten-classroom block and library, with office and toilets. Their construction company Seddon seized the chance, while on site, to twin three of the school’s toilets. Pupils have taken delivery of the certificates showing their twinned latrines in DRC, Nepal and Sierra Leone.  

Meanwhile, on the Somerset coast, two Clevedon schools have benefited from some fabulous fundraising at their local churches. Christchurch and St Andrew’s Church beat a baker’s dozen: they raised enough money to twin not only their own 13 toilets, but also to donate twinnings to St Nicholas Chantry School and Mary Elton School. Miniature toilet-shaped collecting boxes were given to church members, who were asked to 'spend a penny' or, better still, 'spend a pound' to fill them up. The total raised - £1,359 - was way beyond expectations: a testament to the generosity of the churchgoers and their enthusiastic support of Toilet Twinning.  
Young people from Clevedon fundraised enthusiastically for Toilet Twinning, and a golden  loo brush was awarded as a quiz prize
Further east, Sussex Coast College students have also been hard at work, and have raised enough to twin six toilets so far, with another two likely before the end of term. Lay chaplain Barbara Powell-Jones helped the cause by making and selling almost 200 lavender bags.  As the name ‘lavender’ derives from the Latin lavare: to wash, the connection with a sanitation charity (not to mention language lessons) was entirely appropriate!  Proceeds from the bags were enough to achieve the first three twinnings for the college.  

Younger children don't get forgotten either. Bevan Lodge pre-school in Farnborough recently refurbished their toilets - and a generous parent twinned the new loos. Kate Jamieson, chair of the school’s management committee, said, ‘It seemed like the perfect opportunity to broaden the children’s knowledge while supporting a worthy cause.’

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged their local schools and colleges to help flush away poverty through Toilet Twinning. And don’t forget, there are lots of useful resources for schools on our website at www.toilettwinning.org/resources/

Friday, 31 May 2013

Water wars or water peace?

Have you ever considered that twinning your toilet could make you an instrument of peace in our troubled world?

In the 21st century, water is being dubbed ‘blue gold’ and the prediction is that wars will be fought over it, just as they have been over oil and other resources. Certainly there are regions of the world, principally in the Middle East, where water is in critically short supply. Yemen has the dubious honour of being tipped as a country about to run dry.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the USA, is reputed to have said
‘When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water’. How much more true that would be if you had had to walk for several hours to reach the well in the first place. And how tempting to stop off on the way at a polluted source, leading to illnesses such as diarrhoea and cholera.
Tapping in: the journey to reach this water source may have been a long one
Photo: Layton Thompson/Tearfund

At a local level, tensions often rise where shortages are found: human nature makes sharing a challenge, and queuing for water can be one burden too many in an already difficult day.

Add into this mix the fact that one in four people in the world live in countries which are officially termed ‘fragile and conflict-affected states’. And they are the very same people who are most likely to be without access to safe water or improved sanitation. For shortages are not necessarily absolute as in Yemen: often they are down to poor infrastructure, and are entirely fixable.

In the DRC, the government is known to be an unreliable provider of services. As one man commented ‘Who is the government? Who are they? I have never seen them. They have not brought schools or clinics to the village.

Toilet Twinning uses a ‘community-led total sanitation’ approach to development - you could call it a ‘bottom up’ strategy. The local community identifies their own needs and resources, and are trained, helped and encouraged to achieve their goals. And it’s called ‘total sanitation’ because Toilet Twinning works to enable water supply, hygiene education and sanitation, not just latrines.

In Afghanistan, for example, locally-trained manufacturers have developed and installed water purification systems in a school, giving children access to clean and safe drinking water. The school has now seen a significant improvement in the health of the students and hygiene education has been integrated into their regular activities.

Educating and empowering people to come up with their own solutions brings dignity and sustainability. And that has to make for a more peaceful world.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Having your cake and eating it

Boris Johnson once said, ‘My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.’ Whatever your politics, it’s hard to dislike this statement: cake is, after all, one of the pleasures of life. And when it comes to fundraising for Toilet Twinning, it seems to occupy a pretty central role. Or should that be ‘roll’... and Swiss, naturally!

Here's a snapshot of some recent events that have raised plenty of dough, to help people living in poverty build loos and learn about hygiene:

Lenzie Union Parish Church in Scotland, along with three local schools and several associated youth organisations have all been baking furiously for Toilet Twinning funds. Parish youth worker Edgar de Blieck reported that one young girl baked all day Saturday and into the evening for a cake sale and raised enough for no fewer than nine twinnings. Another boy made shortbread and sold it on a friend's market stall.

A pupil at Kent’s Roseacre School acknowledged the serious message that underlies the humour of Toilet Twinning. She told her fellow students, “I know you are going to laugh but you can stop it right now, because this is serious.” They were certainly serious about fundraising: they held cake, toy and book sales and raised enough to twin all 12 of their toilets.

Craig Bishop, a vicar in the South Cotswolds Team Ministry, tweeted to tell us that his Lent lunch and cake and brownie sales had enabled him to twin two of his vicarage loos. His daughters were looking forward to taking the certificates to their school show & tell.

In Frome, Somerset, the launch of a community toilet scheme has been a good chance for Councillor Peter Macfadyen to encourage twinning as well. Several local businesses including The Old Bath Arms, have taken the plunge(r). Could this be the start of many town-wide twinnings? 

Girl Guides, Brownies and Rainbows from Slough celebrated World Thinking Day by hosting activities with an international flavour, such as African drumming and line dancing. They donated the entry fees to Toilet Twinning. 

Pupils and staff at Kemnay Academy, Aberdeen, sold fairtrade products in their tuckshop and are using the profits to twin with a school toilet block.

Visitors to Boscastle Rectory in Cornwall lobbed their donations into an old bed pan when they enjoyed a coffee morning and raffle at Rev Robert Thewsey’s home.

Malcolm and Lubala, a couple getting married in Sussex in July, have requested donations to Toilet Twinning in place of presents. They are also planning to have ‘spend a penny’ collection tins at the reception.

64th Glasgow Girls' Brigade raised £830 for Toilet Twinning, by cleverly using their 60th anniversary as a link to the £60 cost of a twinning.

Vale of Glamorgan environmental health officer, Rowan Hughes, took the direct approach by asking his local mayor to twin the town hall toilet - and was flushed with success, naturally.

Royal Holloway College student, Lucy Milne, made headlines in Surrey newspapers after she secretly twinned her mum’s loo as a surprise gift - only to find her mum had secretly done exactly the same for her. What’s more, they found their twinned Ugandan loos were only 300 metres apart.

Our supporters display a wealth of ingenious ways to raise their pounds so that others can spend their pennies in privacy, and they clearly have fun too. Thank you so much.

Maybe you feel your personal time is sliced up too thinly, or perhaps you sometimes find yourself at a bit of a loose end. But there’s one thing certain: enjoying the company of others while raising money for Toilet Twinning is a piece of cake!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Books and Bogs

It goes without saying that your first action on visiting your loo will be to gaze lovingly at your Toilet Twinning certificate and think about the people who are using their latrine in a faraway place.

But for many of us, the few minutes we spend behind the closed door of the smallest room might be the only chances we get to pause in a busy day. Indeed there’s a poem (or prayer, depending on your viewpoint) called ‘Slow me down Lord’ which speaks of the importance of these little rests in our routines:

Teach me the art of taking MINUTE vacations,

Of slowing down to look at a flower,

to chat with a friend,

to pat a dog,

to read a few lines of a good book. 

So maybe your only chance to read a good book happens on your ‘minute vacation’ in your toilet. But what to read? Well, the Times Educational Supplement has recently published a ‘Teachers’ Top 100 Books’ list - a goldmine for readers gleaned from the top 10 favourites of 500 teachers.

How many have you read? How many do you want to read? Do you even agree with their choices? The Times Ed seems to be expecting dissent, because they commented, ‘Very little, beyond politics and religion, divides people quite like a list.’

And remembering all those junior school jokes about book titles like ‘The Highwayman’ by Ann Dover, what could you suggest as great titles to read while enthroned in your private space? Let’s get the obvious ‘Winnie The Pooh’ by A A Milne out on the pedestal mat right away and open up this serious debate!