One of the worst feelings in the world is when your on the toilet having despatched a very satisfying number two only to discover there is no toilet paper resulting in having to holler for help.  Now this may work if there are others in the house, which still proves to not be the easiest transaction in the world. 

Gentle coaxing commences with a loved one to come to your rescue, but not without an onslaught of resistance and the inevitable moaning until you can take no more!  The goal of wiping your bum, leaving the vicinity of the bathroom and the stench to which your nostrils have acclimatised to seems like an unobtainable goal as you realise you have more chance of a Labrador puppy bringing it to you than anyone related living under the same roof! 

The alternative is to lose your rag rising your bum cheeks slightly off the comfort of the seat aware of the imprint from overstaying your welcome on this plastic throne and threaten this act of disobedience with withholding all domestic duties forever unless they carry out your now frantic demand for bog roll.  

After the awkward negotiation of requesting for the door to be opened temporarily and the toilet roll preferably handed to you in person, you eventually settle for it to be left outside after their cries of horror and protest reiterating their reluctance to enter this no go area due to the disgusting odour which still lingers in the air courtesy of the vegetable tart and large portion of brussel sprouts covered in garlic consumed the evening prior!

But an even worse scenario than the above is to find that there is no toilet paper(regardless of how many people may or may not be present), absolutely nothing!  

And normally this latter disastrous detection happens on entry to the bathroom as soon as the empty loo roll comes into view.  But the timing couldn’t be worse for this sort of encounter as it usually happens when you are absolutely desperate to go having left this visit to the last possible minute.

A special kind of panic sets in, and you find yourself doing a weird little dance, jumping up and down and reverting to holding onto those parts you feel are having a temporary breakdown with the message your brain is sending them, like don’t wet or shit yourself as you scurry around the house to try and find something as a plan B 'Operation Bum Wipe' and potential substitute for toilet paper. 

It becomes a race against time as you become more than aware your body can only hold it in for so long while your desperate search plays out. 

The obvious port of call in this situation is kitchen roll.  Bigger sheets needed for a big job ahead. 

But blast no kitchen roll!  Tissue – bless you!  Who keeps tissues?  Towel, flannel, tea towel, sock or just jump into the shower – the possibilities are endless, but none are ticking the box, and nothing quite compares to those familiar little white squares. 

No one likes to experience the above and that is why we go to great lengths to ensure that it never happens. 

This brings us to the current toilet paper shortage stemming from frenzied panic buying and the extreme hoarding of toilet paper and displays of irrational herd mentality and behaviour.  

Behaviour begets behaviour.  If you see me buying a shed load of toilet paper in this uncertain time where our independence and choices may need to be put on hold to keep each other safe and halt the rapid spread of this deadly disease, panic sets in.  You know that all the delivery slots for home delivery in your area have a 4-week waiting period so there must be a reason, the likelihood of you doing the same thing is high! 

Seeing empty shelves in supermarkets up and down the land doesn’t help either, giving the impression that things haven’t even got tough and for these supermarket giants, they cannot seem restock or cope - what will happen - we just cant take the chance - can we?  Or can we?

Although if we thought about it logically which at the moment is not something coming to the forefront of any of our minds as what is happening doesn’t define any logic, we would realise that the absence of toilet paper in our local supermarkets is much more noticeable than that of handwash – perhaps not the greatest example in this current climate!  But any of the smaller items!

Logical and rational thinking wont happen for a while and certainly not until the panic declines, which when you stand in a supermarket the size of an airplane hangar surrounded by empty shelves and only the likes of beetroot pesto remaining, it is hard for those feelings of desperation and panic not to surface and irrationality to take over!  

So why toilet paper – are we all planning to sit it out literally or perhaps there’s some blue sky thinking that its more versatile than just to use to wipe and flush away?  It can be an alternative for tissues or paper napkins and could be used to make makeshift masks or perhaps in those hours where time seems to drag in the weeks to come, a crash course in origami. 

Or is it that in our minds to regain control we can prepare which in our world means stocking up on all the essentials.  The toilet roll is one of the old and regular favourites making a weekly appearance on all our shopping lists and sitting comfortably in-between the various other items in our baskets and trollies!  

As a nation we are not used to having to cope with shortages and scarcity!  Normally we have everything we need.  We live in a world of convenience and choice, so to have that taken away even on an unpredicted timeline, we panic!   This type of danger sensed from Coronavirus is new and appears to be spiralling out of control all over the world and now spilling into the UK causing further panic!

In the run of things in terms of survival or if you find yourself in a life or death situation, I am certain Andrex won’t be featured in the recommended top 3 items!  But it appears its more about comfort and standards of hygiene that drive us to desire its constant presence! 

It also has a longer shelf life joining other items like pasta, rice, pulses and tinned food.

We are not just wired any more to imagine life without it or prepared to go back to the basics in getting down and dirty without it! 

However, panic buying of toilet roll apart from leading to an inconsistent distribution is also leading to blocked sewers because those left without toilet paper are being forced to use alternatives like wipes, kitchen roll and newspaper and are disposing of them incorrectly.  It is fact that wrongly flushed items are one of the biggest causes of blockages as they usually clog up inside householders' plumbing and sewer pipes. 

The answer?   To be sensible.  How many toilet rolls do you really use in a week?  With rationing coming into force in shops – the decision has been taken out of your hands allowing rationale behaviour to resume! 

Think of others, think of those who perhaps cant get to the shops or do an internet shop; buy some to share, take care and stay safe!