The first time I set eyes on a giant roll of toilet paper I was in a unisex toilet at the Kennedy Space Station. The unisex thing was one of those ideas that I agreed with, in principle, but this was 1987 and I wasn’t ready for it. Nothing about the feminist struggle had us sitting side by side doing our private business but at this land of scientific miracles, there appeared to be no other options. I went in there with one word on my mind. And that word was speed. Then I saw the most enormous roll of toilet paper I had ever laid eyes on. For a minute I wondered if that was what men always had in their public facilities but it was too new and shiny for that. I was blown away that the same scientists who spent their days and nights sending astronauts to the moon had taken a minute or two to think about the rest of us. It was either that or going to the moon is a bit more nerve wracking than most of us think, but either way, I was so impressed that even now my memory of that first giant toilet roll is far clearer than the actual space craft that landed on the actual moon.
Fast forward to my current place of employment where I face a giant loo roll on a semi- regular basis. Now either my memory is a little loose, or things in that department have gone downhill because this particular piece of toilet equipment has become so frustrating that it makes me pause and think about the necessity of that 2nd cup of tea. The giant loo roll has evolved from 1987 to sport not one, but two giant rolls of tissue. And by the way, the word tissue is entirely correct. If by some miracle a piece of paper is within reach, all you have to do is pull it a little and it disintegrates. I’ve tried the many and varied options of the pull. The pull towards, the pull away, the gentle pull, the frustrated pull that could possibly be described as a tug, and they all result in a tiny, flake of tissue in the hand that is not up to the job I am asking it to do. I then poke my fingers into the contraption in an attempt to find the end of the roll to start again. I kneed it clockwise and nothing happens. I therefore assume it needs to go the other way. Nothing happens. I jab, I swear and push the damned thing round a bit further and suddenly for no apparent reason, a long tail of delicate tissue unfolds from somewhere up top. I am saved! But what to do now? I pull it straight down with the concentration of a child threading a needle. I gather a few wrinkles of tissue in my hand and I even think how nice it would be for the next person if I left the end fluttering out of the roll, but by the time that thought has struck, the paper has broken off and the end is nowhere in sight.
If you are that person, sorry, but in some respects you are lucky. You have probably never known a giant toilet roll that actually rolled and delivered, and therefore your expectations are low and NASA never enters your thoughts. Good on’ya mate. I suggest you avoid going to Florida. It’s one giant step forward for man and a similar giant let-down for the rest of us.