Writer in Residence – Post from Your Archives – The Do-nut in Grannie’s Greenhouse by Paul Andruss | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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I thought I’d share a little informative, yet, humorous article written by Paul Andruss – Writer in Residence, regularly featured on Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Invitation. 


Okay, yes it may not be pretty, but I found it an interesting read with plenty of chuckles along the way. Ever wonder where we get some of those slang names for toilets and bathrooms? Well read on and find out!


Writer in Residence – Post from Your Archives – The Do-nut in Grannie’s Greenhouse by Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss will be back in a couple of weeks with one of his exclusive posts but I have taken the liberty of helping myself to one of his earlier posts.  Having had problems with asking for the Loo when we went to live in Texas…. I thought that this post might be educational for us all when referring to the “servicios”  when we lived in Spain.

The Do-nut in Grannie’s Greenhouse by Paul Andruss


Unlike Otto Titzling, or even Herr Bustenhalter, the mythical inventors of the modern bra, Thomas Crapper was a real person; a plumber who opened a London bathroom fittings factory and warehouse in 1861. The quality of his porcelain ware gained him recognition in a rapidly modernising society. But it was the future Edward VI who cemented his reputation by asking him to fit the bathrooms in the newly purchased Sandringham House.

The Victorians were nothing if not social climbers and crashing snobs. What was good enough for the future king was good enough for them. Although having recently learned about the copious amounts of red meat in the upper class Edwardian diet, I think the certified robustness of Mr Crapper’s facilities must have also played a part in the choice.

Thomas Crapper is often credited with inventing the toilet.

Not true.

The lavatory starts with the Romans, who had communal public toilets, but not for the riff raff, built over natural streams that emptied into the sewer. Senators would send their slaves to keep their place and warm up the marble seat. Medieval castles had indoor toilets, chutes that emptied outside. Urine was not wasted. Laundrymen called fullers had large pots outside their premises to relieve yourself and used the ammonia to bleach your clothes.

A water closet was invented in 1596 by John Harington. In 1778 Yorkshireman Joseph Bramah patented the first practical water closet. George Jennings in 1852 took out a patent for a flush-out toilet.

No invention comes from thin air. The idea of containing the smells under water was already used with chamber pots – I mean who wants to sleep with that in the room. Chamber pots were not usually kept under the bed but in closets, originally a chest with separate lid, concealing the seat.

Thomas Crapper’s plumbing skills did improve the toilet by adding a ballcock to automatically regulate the water level in the cistern.

His sanitary ware was stamped Crapper and Company. This was believed to have given rise to the euphemistic term for a ‘pooh’ or ‘poop’ when American GIs stationed in the UK during the World Wars took to referring to the restroom as the ‘crapper’ after seeing his name stamped on the facilities. It later gave rise to ‘taking a crap’.

Unfortunately it’s not true.

Krappen is an old Germanic word, crappe in old French, meaning to reject or waste. Shit is another old German word meaning dung. Originally it was not rude. A good example of how words only have the value we put on them and change over time. As words acquire rudeness… another good example, rude just means hearty or peasant-like… we look for polite substitutes or euphemisms.

Virtually every word describing our bodily functions is a euphemism.

Pooh A 16th century expression of distaste as in… He pooh-poohed the idea Continue Reading . . .


Source: Writer in Residence – Post from Your Archives – The Do-nut in Grannie’s Greenhouse by Paul Andruss | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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  1. Hi Debi – it’s always interesting to find out the derivation of words and ideas – thanks for reposting … cheers Hilary

    1. HI Hilary, thank you. And btw, did you get my reply last week? I’m trying to follow your blog, but it won’t allow me to comment?

  2. Thanks for resharing this Debby, certainly got the discussion going.. hugs ♥♥

    1. Lol, I know Sal. And my pleasure. <3 xxx

  3. Yep–I chuckled too. A few I knew; most I didn’t.

    1. Glad you were entertained too Jacqui. 🙂

  4. Much to think about here, Debby – not too deeply though, I think. 🙂

    1. Lol Judith. 🙂 xx

  5. Can you imagine being born into the Crapper family nowadays? I wouldn’t be able to get to the courthouse fast enough to change it! I enjoyed the chuckles just as much the second time around 🙂 Great reblog, Deb ♥

    1. LOL T. No kiddinggggg! I’d be running with you. 🙂 😉 xxx

      1. Be sure to kick off the heels and put on your sneakers 🙂 ❤

        1. On it T! 🙂 xoxo

  6. This was a funny one. I love learning about word origins. Not only are there surprises, but they give insights into the past. Great reblog!

    1. Thanks Diana. I too enjoy word origins, and Paul did a fabulous job. 🙂

  7. Many thanks for this share Debby.. and yes so interesting, I remember going to Cyprus and to some archaeological ancient ruins, where it was thought a huge sort of village along with amphitheatre was still in evidence, So was the communal toilets At least 12 all in a row with stone seats still in place along with a gutter in place which would have had running water to take the waste away.. Pretty impressive I am sure I have the photos in a suit case some where 🙂 A memorable time.. 🙂
    So thank you Thomas, John and Joseph for tapping back into that invention.. What would we be without it.. 🙂

    1. Wow, how innovative for back in those times. Thanks so sharing that Sue. And maybe you will find those photos! 🙂 <3

      1. They are there somewhere.. 🙂 lol and one day I may get around to scanning them all… One day! 🙂

        1. Lol, I know that someday. 🙂 xxx

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