Thursday, August 28, 2008

Panned

The other day, I took my three children round to a friend' s house for a play and lunch. We settled into her enormous kitchen alongside her four children and two of their friends to mould clay pots and paint small statuettes with immense concentration. At a certain point, my two-year-old announced that she needed the loo. My friend's house is magnificent, her downstairs toilet tucked into a large cloakroom with a smooth stone floor where the family leave their boots and shoes.

My book. My best, first and probably only book, was lying next to the toilet, on top of two gardening books and opposite a glossy celebrity magazine boasting the diet tips of the famous (which presumably includes the startling information they do not eat very much). I was not entirely sure how I felt about my book ending up in the toilet. On one hand, it is well situated as most guests are likely to use the loo, may glance through the book and decide to buy their own copy rather than miss the second course of dinner. On the other hand, cor blimey. “My Book” - which took me the best part of a year to write and in which I have laid bare my soul - is in the toilet. My seven-year-old and five-year-old sons were nonplussed when they went in later to wash their hands of grey clay gloves. My seven-year-old said protectively: “Mummy your book is in the toilet. Why are they keeping it in the toilet?” I smiled brightly, pressing down the plunger on the rose pink liquid soap and said: “So that everyone can see it before they leave darling.”

56 comments:

softinthehead said...

Judith - in my house it is on the bedside table - I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe your friend just couldn't put it down!! :)

Fenland female said...

Loved the book. I'd take it as a compliment if your book is the cloakroom!

angie said...

i do my best reading in the loo - and have to confess to reading some of your book in that quiet, private room. the rest of it i read politely, either in bed, on the tube or stretched out on the sofa. loved it, didn't want to get to the end.

Pam said...

Congratulations on discovering your book's prominent position in an an upper-middle-class loo. If you read Kate Fox's excellent book "Watching the English", you will be able to confirm that this is a compliment.

Kaycie said...

If a book is left in our little half bathroom, it means it is being read. Take it as a good thing.

Sarah said...

I know I have prints of mine hanging in peoples downstairs toilets. It gifts a minute, or so, to an individual with little time on their hands; a blessed moment, perhaps, without a small child's demands (if you can get the bolt across before they notice you've gone.) That 'sit down' might be their only time to enjoy a paragraph or two, without feeling like they've lost the plot of the book, thanks to the diary-style layout.
Saying that, it is still the toilet, and I know how you feel.
x

Frances said...

Definitely a compliment -- the loo is where I read all kinds of entertaining things, most recently short stories by Joan Aiken, and Shirley Jackson's hilarious Raising Demons.

LifeBehindTheCoach.com said...

Ah Judith, having coached several famous celebrities in their homes, their most prized possessions are found in the loo...It's where only the VERY famous end up! It's a good thing x

Yvonne Young said...

Don`t take it too hard. A family I knew all read sitting on the toilet, it was the only place they could get any peace from eachother. One of them even took a cup of tea in there!!!!

Ciao said...

I can never understand why some people have books and magazines in the loo I think its very unhygenic, and I'm not houseproud. I suppose we all have our different ways.... We only have 1 loo so I suppose I never wanted to have the kids staying in for too long. I enjoyed your book I asked a couple of friends if they would like to read it but they already had bought their own, all the better for you. I'm off to sort a wasp out the place seems to be alive with them this month xx

Frances said...

The poor woman is probably too wrapped up in her own domestic chaos to find a moment to read at any more opportune time of the day or night! I'd be flattered if I were you. Being read in a state of total concentration! Mind, you, I do like the sound of that loo....

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Maybe they were so enthralled with the book they couldn't put it down and even had to take it to the loo? See it as great publicity. Probably the most visited room in the house..

mutleythedog said...

I got it for £3.86 in Asda... I have already read it so I cannot promise not to read it while having a dump.

Swearing Mother said...

That's appalling, although some people do like to read in the loo, I can't understand why unless they are chronically constipated and fear they might get bored without a good book to read in order to pass the time. I'm amazed that anyone with children has time to read in the toilet, when my kids were little it was a miracle if you even managed to sit on the loo without someone battering the door down.

Frankly, my dear, I think it's a disgusting habit and can only think that your lovely book was taken in there because the reader couldn't put it down, even for a few minutes, whilst answering the call of nature.

I hope you stole it back.

Kitschen Pink said...

I have always enjoyed seeing what books people have in their loo. I have never, ever thought of it as a judgement upon the author! My hubby does 90% of his reading in there! Lets face it, if you want some peace and quiet and you're too tired to read in bed where else can a parent get the head-space! t.x

ItsFairComment said...

Darling diva,
FYI I have children too. Youngest is two. No nanny, plenty of playgroups, community work,and no pats on the back. x

Heather Bestel said...

I think your friend has the right idea putting your book in the loo - more traffic in there! She doesn't have to think of a way to bring it into the conversation - just wait for her guests to mention it. It will almost sell itself.

It could have been found in worse places!

We discovered a friend's first novel in the bargain bin in 'The Works'.

It wasn't a complete disaster as, we bought as many as we could carry and she signed them and sold them from her website. Result!

Expatmum said...

Absolutely. That's what I do with the books I want to show off.

Charles said...

did you check to see if any pages were missing...?

Steve said...

At least I hope there weren't missing pages!

Elsie Button said...

I think that it is a massive compliment that it was in the toilet! - many people (including my husband) find that reading a book on the loo is the best place in the world - the locked door, the peace and quiet, full concentration, no chance of interruptions etc.

In fact, i think that your book (which is bloody brilliant btw) was even in our toilet for a time!

Jane said...

As your friend has four children, the toilet is probably the only place where she gets a bit of peace and quiet, and can enjoy your book. I used to pretend to have all sorts of tummy trouble just to sit on the loo for a while, reading undisturbed. Consider it a compliment.

Annicles said...

All the best books find their way into our loo as who-ever is reading it can't put it down. It's a compliment!

Helen Rewse said...

This isn't a comment on this particular blog but I just wanted to say how much I loved your book. I have just read it whilst on holiday and I laughed and cried and became totally absorbed in your life in the North. We uprooted ourselves and moved to Dorset 17 years ago with our two little girls and so much of what you write about brought memories flooding back. Take heed however - one of those two little girls has just got married, the other is about to go to University and my husband has just taken early retirement. Our lives will never be the same! I may even start a blog about it!
Thank you for a wonderful read and all the best for your future in the North!

justme said...

Be Proud! They probably put it there to show you that they had read it, without being too obvious.
Loved the book by the way.....and led me to your blog, which I hadn't found before! So, all good!

merry weather said...

But where else would a sensible parent go for a sit-down and five minutes peace and quiet in the day?

Although, personally, I keep you in here, in the kitchen, next to the coffee...

Just like me ... said...

Hello dear one ... I think the thing to remember here is you actually have a book ... published and in print and selling for real money .... stored in the posh bathroom or not ... you still have a book and we are all still thrilled for you :) my best le

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Hmm - I can see what you mean, and what if you get totally engrossed and maybe helpless with laughter, would you be able to perform (if you see what I mean). Feel sure though that it is there for the best of reasons. And it was on top of the others!

On the subject of your book Judith, I'll take this opportunity to let you know that my copy arrived safely in the post, thank you. You may be relieved to know that it will going into my hand luggage this week - in readiness for my holiday in September.

A x

Hadriana's Treasures said...

At least she had your book! Does it matter where it is read?!! I think I would be more concerned if my book (sic) was only seen in closing down second hand bookshops...

Laurie said...

Should I be embarrassed to admit that whatever book I currently have a moment to read it in the bathroom? It's a busy mom's only quiet place. Can we look at this as a supreme compliment, then?

Retiredandcrazy said...

A book in a friends loo is not such bad thing wifey. A book with many rejection slips in no-ones loo would be worse.

Gentle Reader said...

To look on the bright side, I might take this as a compliment. I only bring books to the toilet when I'm so involved in them that I can't leave them behind. You might say that only my favorite books end up in the toilet!

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

Many Oscar winners display their most prized award in their downstairs toilet, I hear. I mean, let's face it, everyone is going to pay a visit there during their stay and your life's work gets their undivided attention!

Miriam said...

Don't know if this is any consolation, but my very dear friend was mugged the other day,and had her hand broken. I bought her a copy of your book (not willing to part with my own copy)because I know it will cheer her up. Your book is brilliant!mimi

occasional northerner said...

I've put yours on a shelf but, without it being a reflection on the book, have put Noel Hodgson's poems, which I bought at Glendale Show on Omnday in the loo.

Adventure Mother said...

I think is rather nice to have books in the toilet, quite welcoming. I am sure she just wants to show off her famous friend and hence proudly displays it at the top of the pile!

Julesritter.com said...

Perhaps if you had looked under the magazine you would have seen a copy of Tolstoy but then again perhaps not. Toilet reading/beach reading the important thing is you are being read. Your next book should be entitled This Book is Far Too Serious for the Loo. Julesritter.com

Pig in the Kitchen said...

First off, I'm reeling from the activity that you were all engaged in. I'm feeling very worthless and crap mother-ish.

Secondly, the book in the loo thing...good methinks. She's obviously a busy woman, she barely gets time to, well, you know, so when she IS doing that, she wants to be thinking of you.

Yeh, now you mention it, it is a bit weird.
Pigx

Mid-life Minerva said...

I have been wondering where to keep my copy now that I have finished it. Not in the loo, definitely, but the bookcase with all the others seems a little impersonal for a story I identified with so closely. While I decide, it is lying snot and tear-stained on the floor beside my bed with a pencil which is a stub from underlining so many passages. I have considered putting it in the drawer with my children's teeth and the photo of me with my son straight after he was born and my granny's earring. I've been in the country 11 years now, even further north than Northumberland and I still miss London every day but I fear you're right - you can't go back. Not yet, anyway.

Stinking Billy said...

Judith, although I personally believe in the hygiene thingy about not having or taking reading matter into the toilet, I do believe your hosts were attempting a little bit of flattery in this case. How could they not like your book? I think it is quite brilliant and am still looking forward to you signing my now dog-eared copy.

Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

I do feel for you!
My husband is a writer, and i always find episodes of things he has written for on sale in charity shops...in the video section.
I get a swell of pride whenever i see his work on sale- i just wish it was on dvd, and not hidden on the top shelf of a shop with a price tag of fifty pence!

cheshire wife said...

I think that I would be annoyed if a book that I had written ended up in the toilet. You handled the situation very well. I would be tempted to ask how many toilets she has and offer some more copies of the book for each toilet.

Mom/Mum said...

Ahh but that's a compliment. One can and lock oneself away from the family racket and read your lovely words in peace and quiet, something hard to find surely in a house full of kids? Did you look to see if it'd been thumbed?? (I wouldn't have been able to resist!)

Stinking Billy said...

Judith, what's going on? I left you a nice comment here yesterday and it hasn't appeared?

If you catch my blog of today "Wee MOB" you will understand my concern.

Are my comments being censored by Blogger.com, for example? They never respond to my baiting, so be a pal and get onto them, would you? If wifey hasn't got any clout there is little hope for the rest of us.

Okay, I'm pulling your leg about approaching Blogger, but it's wierd, isn't it?

Clara said...

I to0k your book on holiday. It made me laugh & cry and think thank god it's not just me. Thank you.

PS i won't be leaving it in the loo. x

Livvy U. said...

I honestly do think that finding your book in the toilet - a nice shiny new copy with the celebrity magazine - is better than finding it going for 50p in the charity shop... Hmmm. That was meant to be comforting but on reading it back sounds vaguely depressing. Ah well.
Livvy

BearLady said...

This means it must have been taken there by a Man. That's good isn't it? Mine searches high and low for the right thing to take to the loo and if its really good it gets left so he can pick it up where he left off, so to speak

wife in the north said...

Sorry about that. Did something to the template and didn't realise I had put on moderation. I thought it had gone a bit quiet.

Litdog said...

Your book is epistolary, so easy to read in small chunks - an obvious loo book. Defo a compliment.

I am just reading your book at the moment - picked it up in the bookshop after reading about it in one of the papers. Interested as I'm a journalist turned mother, but the difference is I'm longing to move to the country [have to admit I'm thinking West rather than North]. One thing that strikes me, reading it, is that your husband doesn't come across much - and when he DOES feature, he doesn't sound very brilliant. So you wonder what on earth there IS about him that made you ready to give it all up for him.

I'm looking forward to reading a bit more to find out what it is about him that's so great - I think it's interesting that your friends don't like him. However I feel a bit sorry for all the flak he gets when the car runs out of petrol - don't you look at the petrol tank when you get in and notice you're nearing the bottom?!

However your husband beats mine in one major respect - he obviously agreed to baby #3 - how on earth did you do that? I'm stuck after two - there's no persuading him and I need some tips!

Mu Tai Dong said...

You sold them books I never sold one Peloop TM yet! You the reader can find it by me on blog?

Ciao said...

Hi wifey, just waiting for the "lord and Master" to finish his tea then we'll be off to Tescos.... Isn't this rain aweful? The L&M has rigged up a Heath Robinson affair to the water butts which are overflowing and all night long I could hear the overflow running down the drain, from a great height.... Hope the bairns settle down at school, they'll be going in like drowned rats if this continues, xx

Kate Lord Brown said...

All the best loved books end up in the loo (the only place where you can read in peace in a busy household!)

Isobel said...

Very Upper Middle to have favourite books in the loo! Take it as a compliment. The book is fab.

Iota said...

53 comments and only 2 of them (both male) had the same rather horrible thought as I did, to do with use of pages once read.

I love the book, and have already given in to 2 people for their birthdays.

Tismee2 said...

I don't know how I would feel about it either. I have bad memories of having to wait to use the toilet while my dad sat there reading the paper - and when I got in there, it wasn't a very pleasant experience. He always read in the toilet, so did my grandad.
Better there than in some dusty cupboard though.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

...Also if your book had been around in Roman times...the Romans did not have a hang up about privacy and loos. Their latrines (multi use and occupancy) were all about having a chat, catching up on gossip...so there would have been free advertising there for you! There's always an upside...