When was the last time you went to a dinner party and spent a good chunk of the time talking about toilets?
If the answer is: a) not recently,
b) not ever, or
c) not ever – and, frankly, I would rather put pins in my eyes than do so .. .
... then I can only assume you haven’t (yet!) been invited to dinner by the hugely-charismatic Gill Silversides.
If you are thinking ‘why would I be invited to dinner with Gill Silversides when I don’t even know the woman?’ then I’m afraid this is not a get-out – because nor did I. And yet, I spent last Thursday enjoying a fascinating evening with Gill plus five other complete strangers where the subject of toilets was spoken far more than any of the usual, jollier dinner-table subjects.
It was a sort of Come Dine With Me night with added loo roll.
The reason that I was seated in Gill’s Bath home was as part of a new charity initiative by the excellent Freshford-based charity Wherever The Need to get random people together to enjoy good company and great conversation but also to discuss one of the subjects that none of us really likes to talk about.
The scheme is called Dinner For Dignity and it relies on people such as Gill and her charming partner inviting strangers into their home, getting them to talk about important issues over a lovely meal and then inviting them to make an anonymous contribution for the food which goes directly to the charity and its ambitious plans to bring loos to people who need them.
It is a simple idea but, then again, most of the best charity ones are.
The subject at hand was the startling facts about the number of people who die across the globe because of poor sanitation and the lack of clean toilet facilities. I always remember being somewhat taken aback to read somewhere that only a third of the earth’s population uses toilet paper and it seems that some 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to what we would regard as a ‘proper’ loo.
If even this talk is making you feel uncomfortable, then imagine how these people feel about this issue every single day of their life.
Not nice is it?
During the course of our meal we were shown a video produced by Wherever The Need about the type of toilets they’re trying to bring to certain communities in India (see pic) , and although you may feel that the sight of a functioning loo while you’re eating your dinner is a bit of an odd mixture, strangely it works.
It was serious stuff but in a fun environment – a genuine case of toilet humour if you like.
So I hope it may inspire others to think about holding their own Dinner For Dignity. If you can cook and can find enough people willing to risk a night with a stranger who might just talk about (ahem) ‘waste disposal’, then just contact wherevertheneed.org.uk.
At your convenience, of course.