I'm reading
The toilet
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
The toilet
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
The toilet
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
15 November 2020

The toilet

A regular column from our friend Lentil Purbrick about her experiences moving to a small village in Italy with her husband Matt.

Written by Lentil Purbrick

This story originally ran in issue # of Dumbo Feather

Discussed in this Story

It began with the toilet delivery, to the middle of the Piazza. We looked to each other, wondering how we would climb the six flights of stairs between us and its final resting place.

Today, it was Zoro who delivered our renovation items. In my opinion, delivery drivers are gods – without them, our house would not have its white “eco” paint or bamboo folding table. This village stocks only the essentials. Additional to being gods, they are also our friends, visiting our houses often, and it is custom to adorn them with treats of fresh fruits and coffee to ensure not one delivery driver feels less valuable than the others. But today there was no house visit, as the toilet, with its new modern flush function, was too heavy to be lifted by Zoro alone up the several flights of medieval stairs.

So we sat together – the toilet and I – in wait of a solution. The passing residents offered their numerous suggestions, and after much discussion, we settled on Josto. Josto drives the local Ape (pronounced “app-aye”), a mini-3-wheeled-truck, perfect for narrow streets.

“OK, OK, I will tell Josto to collect your toilet when he comes home. After he eats lunch!”, his mother replies as I call to request his services. Josto’s mother is his administrative assistant, and obviously the 40-year-old man must have lunch before attending to any future appointments. I relay my exact location, and prepare for a long wait, perching myself atop the toilet.

Hours pass. A Piazza resident brings me a coffee and a mandarine; I peel the layers and add them to their gardens. A woman requests the toilet’s outer cardboard shell. We unravel it, the toilet now sitting naked in the open air. A friend passes, delivering to me a panada (a small pie of the region, filled with seasonal ingredients). I salute the local residents who are eating on their balconies, and the sun begins to creep into the Piazza’s gaps. I adjust my position for comfort, and admire how the toilet has now been welcomed with such great ceremony. We continue waiting.

At last, the bright red, three-wheeled Ape arrives. Unashamedly, its loud scooter-like noise fills the streets and Josto spills out of its door. Together we lift the toilet into its tray, but it bows under pressure, too heavy for its small wheels. So the residents, Josto and I come together and carry the toilet, winding through streets by foot. Small chips are taken from its sides as the uneven stairs are navigated. The village whispers as we pass, speaking of the toilet’s lavishness, and the residents postulate its cost and surmise, unsurprisingly, that it could have been bought cheaper.

As the sun drifts downwards, the toilet arrives at its final resting position, having grown in character and aged in looks.

The sunset falls and the red mini-truck brazenly zips home through the narrow streets. I fall into bed, wondering if the convenience of the “flush” function was worth the adventure, and cursed the medieval stairs and narrow streets of my village. Yet, at the same time, I am awash with gratitude that despite the promises of 2020 modern conveniences, my village does not adhere.

Instead, it insists on life being a series of thoroughly human moments of community closeness. Where one can fall asleep with their front door wide open, knowing that the village has its watchful eye over everyone within it. Where you are never alone.

This story originally ran in issue # of Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue # of Dumbo Feather

Lentil Purbrick

Lentil is the co-author of two books: Grown & Gathered: Traditional Living Made Modern (2016) and The Village (2018).

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