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If you're looking for a book about successful outcomes in the toilet department, you couldn't do better
on 5 September 2012
Well, here's irony for you. This book is currently in the smallest room in our house, alongside a TV listings magazine, a couple of joke books, and Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy, for those really recalcitrant movements. I have been reading it for the past three days - not the Vikram Seth, this book - and haven't quite finished yet, so please don't tell me what happens in the end. Mind you, I can guess, as Ms Whelen Banks (crazy name, crazy gal) sort of gives it away in the opening to her magnum opus.
She says (Spoiler alert, spoiler alert) "successful toilet training should be a time of celebration," leading one to believe that Liam's journey concludes in success, as he sees - if you will permit me a little levity - some close friends off to the seaside.
Well, if that is the outcome, Jane is spot on. It really is a time of celebration. We held a big party round our place, with proper champagne - none of that 14 quid stuff from the supermarket - and invited close friends and family to come and exult with us. We served them all with a delightful chilled flute of the bubbly, and some lovely canapes. There was a seafood theme to the nibbles with Pacific bay prawns on wholemeal toast, and various marinated herrings on sesame crackers. Once we had made sure our guests had a drink and a plate of nibbles - salted almonds and olives stuffed with pimento were on the agenda as well - we conducted them into the toilet in groups of five, having taken the precaution of not flushing our little boy's movement, so everybody could see for themselves what our little darling had achieved. I must say as we all stared down into the bowl, I was glad we had decided not to offer our fellow celebrants the chicken livers on matzo crackers that we considered at one stage. In fact, given the final journey our boy's product was about to take, seafood was undoubtedly symbolically the right option.
Describing little Liam's success, Ms Whelen Banks writes: "Memories of this momentous occasion will remain in our hearts," and how right she is. My little boy is 27 years old now, living away from home, but we often meet for lunch and talk about old times. I make a point of telling him of the pride and sense of achievement we all felt when he relieved himself for the first time in the toilet. He invariably replies, "What about when I was invited to join the space programme, or won bronze at the Sydney Olympics, or got an honours degree in astro-physics, don't those things make you proud?" "Oh yes, I remember, you won bronze," I say, "Of course that makes me proud, but not as proud as this." And I get out the photographs.