3 Feb 2011

The (water) closet reader

I have not lived in share accommodation since the squats of university days, but I must say that our time sharing a house with other flood affected individuals over the past couple of weeks bears little resemblance to my memories of those days in squalid Uni terrace houses.

There have been up to twelve of us staying with our amazingly wonderful and long suffering friends about 15 minutes out of town. We're a disparate lot, ranging in age from 22-92. There is the student, the farmer, the teacher, the grandmother, the brother, the doctor, the girlfriend, the nurse, the computer expert and more. Some of us are victims; others are volunteers. All of us have been deeply affected by the devastation that affected our peaceful country town only a couple of short weeks ago.

We don't spend much time together. Most of us are up and about pretty early each morning. The farmers are busy repairing flood damaged fences and treating fly-blown stock. They have ruined crops to strip and damaged machinery to repair. The townies are busy ripping up carpets and floor boards, washing water damaged clothes and disinfecting floors and walls. When we do see each other emotions run high. Some days are good; some are terrible. We tready-tready carefully with each other, and try hard not to jump down each other's throats.

When you have so many people living so closely together under these emotionally fraught conditions, personality traits and habits - good and bad - are heightened. One of us is exceptionally polite, and I have been taken to task a number of times for my sloppy etiquette and poor posture. Some of us are organised; others less so. Some of us leave the bathroom in a neat condition; others...um...don't.

One of us is a closet bathroom reader. Who can it be? Is it the teacher? The farmer? The student? What I do know is that our secret reader is a man.

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with reading in the loo. We have a bookshelf in the ensuite bathroom of our peaceful home, and I often dip into the latest Asian art magazine or literary journal. Our mystery reader reads man-lit. Now this is a genre that I know nothing about, but I must say I have been really enjoying my foray into books-that-blokes-read each time I visit the little room in our home away from home.

His first choice was Dicky Bird's autobiography. Dicky Bird, I now know is an incredibly well known and much loved cricket umpire. I don't like cricket, and I had never heard of Mr Bird, although he did look vaguely familiar in his cover pic. Anyhow, it turns out that he happens to be a strong Christian and he had a particular interesting life. He also happens to be an excellent writer. Thanks to my closet reader I know that. I enjoyed his first literature selection very much.

Barry Dickins', What the Dickins! A symposium of pieces from the low life, was his next choice. Barry is an Australian author, artist and playwright, although the only thing of his that I'd ever heard of before discovering this book in the loo, was his play, Remember Ronald Ryan, which won him the Victorian Premier's Literary Award back in 1995. What the Dickins is a real Aussie bloke's book. It is very amusing and very well written. Whodathunk man-lit could be so much fun?

There was a new offering in the bathroom this morning. Something about things white men hate. I can't remember the title, but it looks awful. Then again, so did Dicky Bird and What the Dickins, and they were actually quite good. I'll give it a go. My closet reader hasn't let me down yet.

We're hoping that we'll shortly be able to move back into our own home, and I can't say I'll be too sad about that. Being with friends has been a great blessing, but there's something special about your own space, isn't there? Even if it is nothing like the peaceful home we knew and loved.

I'll looking forward to sleeping in my own room and listening to my own music. I'm looking forward to having Jemimah back where she belongs. I'm looking forward to cooking my own meals and getting back into some serious crochet. I'm looking forward to having broadband Internet and being able to read my email and keep up with your lives through your blogs. I'm looking forward to having my own books back.

I'll miss my (water) closet reader though. I've enjoyed his book choices and my foray into man-lit. It's been fun. I can't say that I'm a convert, but my introduction into the world of books-that-blokes-read has been quite an eye-opening experience. Thanks, Secret Reader. These terrible days have been the nicer for knowing you.


  1. Jeanne- you are amazing! I just loved reading this post, with it's air of mystery! It's hard for those of us unaffected by the floods to fully grasp just what you're going through. Your posts help. I take my hat off to you for trying hard to maintain a sense of humour through it all. Goes to show just what we can survive when we have to I guess. I am in awe of you. So hoping you will be back in your own home (and loo!) soon. Love Mel x

  2. I loved this post as well!
    I never could understand the reading in the WC thing. Where we live that little room is sooooo hot and humid, it's in and out asap for me!!!
    Always great to share but there's no place like home. Hope you get back soon.

  3. I can "hear" the strength returning to your voice and "see" the glint of humour in your eyes again. Merveilleux!

  4. It's nice to hear from you.

    Keep strong through this time of hardship. You all remain in my prayers.

  5. Yours is the only toilet humour I appreciate!

    Like Ruby, I'm in and out but our six-year-old is already a closet reader. Tin-Tin is his most current choice.

  6. Sooooooo nice to hear from you, even when you are in difficult circumstances. Great post and very interesting. xxx

  7. Thinking of you, dear friend! I can hear the longing for your own bed and pillow, perhaps cuddled next to your favorite two people for a bit of a read aloud. Light ... tunnel.

    I was once in a similar situation: life in chaos, living with strangers, not sure of what picking up the pieces will look like. My heart aches with you, but it's there, that light, and He's there, semper fidelis.

    A very well written post, by the way. The ManLit has blessed. :)

  8. Jeanne, oh you really brought it home again with this post! but good on you for keeping a sense of humour about it all! I really feel for you that Jemimah is not with you:( I agree it will be very nice for you all when you get back to your own home:) You have been in my thoughts a lot! Looking forward to meeting up with you again next month if it works out with you - I will be in touch via email before hand for sure to check:)

  9. Sadly, Laura, my own bed was destroyed in the flood. We do have our own pillows though :)

  10. We're not water closet readers either but it always fascinates me to see what's on offer in other homes. lol Like you I've got onto some good reads that way. Glad to hear you are nearly back into your own place. Soon it will be better than ever! ♥

  11. I enjoyed the way you built your post - made a really great read. You convey the harsh times you're suffering with admirable eloquence and I admire yours and well, everybody's! fortitude in these harsh, trying times. But yet on top of the difficulties you have humour which is just beautiful :D!Thanks for saying Hi :) today. I'm a frequent quiet visitor to your blog, usually searching for more CM Aus style wisdom. Thanks you so much for creating Peaceful Day, you've helped guide the Australian-ising process for me and I'm so appreciative. My heart goes out to you being separated from your precious daughter and I hope and pray that the situation won't be for very much longer. JM:)

  12. I am going to let you into a little secret, I sometimes take my iPad to the "little room" if I think I might be there for more than a few moments. Please don't tell anyone as they might laugh:)

    I can just imagine how much you want your own space back, there is nothing like home. The rain that is currently passing through Vic, will it affect you at all?

  13. Hang in there.

    You will make it.

    When the rest of the (media) world forgets about the flooding; and the adrenaline that got you through the first stages wears off; and you are left with clean up, financial burdens, and relationship strains, remember that slow and steady wins the race. Pace your expectations on yourself. Consciously choose to actively love those people around you. And, ah, watch that posture! ;) :P

    Hugs for you, brave girl!

    Mrs BB xx

  14. I just cannot imagine what you are all going through. I hope you look back on it someday and have good memories of getting to know each other. I love the secret bathroom reader story. So funny. We had an ice storm the other night and I thought about you. I was thinking...here we are, sitting here, just waiting... for the weather that you can do absoutely nothing about. I'm sure it will be nice to have your place back again.Take care and stay in touch with all of us.


  15. I agree with you, Jeanne, "there's something special about your own space"...praying you are back in your own soon and that God graciously guides you are you re-create order and beauty in it...much love to you...


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