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How, exactly, did toilet paper come to capture our headlines and attention?

In the earliest days of the coronavirus health emergency, long before any thoughts of self isolation or even stock piling pasta came to mind, people were stocking up on toilet paper. Call it what you will bathroom tissue, loo roll, bog roll, toilet roll or toilet paper it was one of  first things that hoarders looked to covet as news of Covid19 broke.

Apparently, the thought of an emerging pandemic without anything to wipe ones bottom is of major concern to the Great British public and so as toilet paper is now as rare as hens teeth it raises the question whatever happened to Izal?  Whilst staring at empty shelves where toilet rolls were once offered for sale I couldn’t help wondering if the toilet roll hoarders would have been as keen to have hoarded the waxy, rough Izal loo roll. A far cry from the soft toilet tissue available in pastel shades, quilted, scented or decorated with printed designs, the slightly abrasive, medicated Izal loo roll was commonly found in school toilets, pub toilets and in public conveniences. I can’t imagine that this austere product would have needed any rationing.

Indeed Izal was always a far cry from the fluffy, soft products that a puppy would want to bound around with and the whiff of disinfectant was a stark reminder that needing the toilet whilst out and about was never a good idea. Indeed, I can’t help thinking that newspaper would have softer than the scratchy, waxy paper that was Izal.

In this era of soft, quilted bottom friendly toilet tissue it may be a surprise to find out that Top of Form our vintage memories of school  loo roll can be re-lived as Bottom of San Izal has been rebranded Izal, and is most definitely alive and kicking. It has however, become kinder with age. Whilst it is not an opulent toilet tissue it is a little less scratchy and it no longer smells like pine disinfectant.  It’s not only going to give you a sense of nostalgia, but it makes for great tracing paper.

In an age where we have gone soft on loo roll I somehow can’t imagine Izal becoming hugely in demand. However, as people run out of loo roll and start playing havoc with our sewerage systems through the flushing  of baby wipes, kitchen roll and newspaper perhaps the historic idea of a sponge on a stick may return.

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One thing that has returned to popularity is Shield soap, suddenly this soap that was marketed as Fresh Aqua Deodorising Soap is commanding £29.97 for four bars on Amazon. I recall this being a soap that was in all the shops and it was cheap and something frequently found in bathrooms twenty odd years ago, until of course we all wanted silky smooth soaps with moisturising qualities rather than soaps that washed away muck and bacteria.

In our extraordinary climate where anything that suggests anti-bacterial is selling out and we scrabble around to buy a bar of soap, I wonder when we will begin to returning to good old fashioned cleaning techniques such as salt, lemon and bicarbonate of soda.