They say if you wait long enough, everything comes back into fashion.
Here’s a case in point, last Sunday, while flicking though the newspaper magazines, I spotted an article on twenty and thirty-somethings going crazy for ‘retro’ interior decoration in their homes.
Psychedelic, flowery orange wallpaper from the seventies and avocado bathroom suites with corner baths are, apparently cool among this age group.
I guess, they don’t remember them from decades ago. To them, it’s all new.
Which makes you wonder, whatever next? Ceiling to carpet pine wardrobes and drawers with pink shag pile carpets?
One thing I hadn’t imagined making a comeback is… wait for it… the outdoor loo.
I’d love to know if you remember the originals. It’s not that long ago since many Dundee homes had no inside toilet and everyone trooped outdoors to a Victorian outhouse with a loo in the garden.
There will be those of you who remember a toilet not just outside but shared with neighbours.
Anything in the paper?
I can’t figure out if it’s a genuine memory of mine (or a story I was told, perhaps by my gran, and imagined so vividly I think I saw it) of climbing stairs as a wee girl outside Dundee tenements while visiting a family friend.
Inside was a toilet where newspaper masquerading as Andrex Quilted hung on the door by a nail. Neighbours, visitors, everyone took their turn. In my mind, it was winter and freezing.
It’s astonishing that this is within living memory. And every time I see an outdoor loo on Homes Under the Hammer, I get excited.
Of course you want one indoors, but I’m all for keeping the outdoor offering – because getting rid of it demolishes a tiny bit of our history forever.
No more muddy shoes
And now we’re all accustomed to lockdown, when having friends and family outside is the new norm, what better time to renovate an old outdoors loo – or even build a new one in the garden?
Pandemic or not, it sounds like a brilliant idea to me.
For starters, it’s a remedy for not having kids’ muddy shoes traipsing through your house. And given recent events, guests might be altogether more comfortable not coming inside.
I mentioned this idea to the BBC’s new show Morning Live and lo and behold they signed me up to make a short film on the comeback of the outdoor loo – to be shown on BBC1 from 9.15am on Thursday.
Alas, the filming wasn’t in Dundee (though I have been back since and will keep you posted as to when it’s on) but we visited Blackpool, where I chatted to a lady who had restored a Victoria toilet on a shoestring budget of around £100.
There is also a lady who planned to create a new loo next to an outdoor sociable area for family gatherings.
I’d love to hear your memories and stories of Dundee outdoor toilets – and indeed, if you still have one in your garden – or perhaps have built one.
It’s a niche passion I grant you – but maybe together we can celebrate the humble outdoor loo.
Table for two (hours) and then two more please
I hear you can’t get an outdoor table in Dundee for weeks. They’ve all been booked up by eager diners keen to enjoy a tipple with some food.
And why not? No wonder people are determined to have some fun after a year like the one that’s ebbed by?
Thankfully, quite a few pubs and restaurants are operating at least some of their outdoor seating on a first come, first served basis – giving hope to the disorganised and spur of the moment types.
You have to feel for those eateries which don’t have outdoor space as they can’t take advantage of what is bound to be a deluge of customers. But hopefully their time will come soon.
I also hear there’s a trend of booking a table for the two hour limit – then booking two hour slots in succession in various nearby pubs to allow for a whole day, or day and night, out.
I’m guessing there might be a sales surge in Lucozade and paracetamol around Dundee for all those morning afters too.
Heat of the moment
Around this time in this column every year, I ponder whether we’ll have a blissful, warm summer.
Much like only believing your horoscope if it’s good, I tend to hold on to all the positive forecasts so I am pinning all my hopes on the prediction of a long, hot British summer I heard the other day.
Wouldn’t that be just the ticket?