The Edmondson Blog

Wiping Your Bum

In the classic sixteenth century novel Gargantua and Pantagruel, author Francois Rabelais gave careful consideration to the subject of alternatives to toilet paper. He explored many options for wiping his bum, until he finally arrives at what he found to be the best.

Among the items that he uses to wipe his bum, the following are included:
  • A lady's velvet mask
  • A lady's hood
  • A lady's neckerchief
  • Some earflaps of crimson satin
  • A page's bonnet, all feathered in the Swiss fashion
  • A March-born cat
  • His Mother's gloves, well scented with maljamin
  • Sage
  • Fennel
  • Anise
  • Marjoram
  • Roses
  • Gourd Leaves
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Vineshoots
  • Marsh-mallow
  • Mullein (a tall herb with coarse leaves), which is as red as your bum
  • Lettuces
  • Spinach-leaves
  • Dog's Mercury
  • Persicaria
  • Nettles
  • Comfrey
  • His Codpiece
  • The Sheets
  • The Coverlet
  • The Curtains
  • A Cushion
  • The Hangings
  • A Green Cloth
  • A Table-cloth
  • A Napkin
  • A Handkerchief
  • An Overall
  • Hay
  • Straw
  • Litter
  • Cow's Hair
  • Wool
  • Paper
  • A Kerchief (again)
  • A Pillow
  • A Slipper
  • A Game-bag
  • A Basket
  • A Smooth Hat
  • A Velvety Hat
  • A Hat Of Taffeta
  • A Hat Of Satin
  • A Shaggy Hat, which he though the best
  • A Hen
  • A Cock
  • A Chicken
  • A Calf's Skin
  • A Hare
  • A Pigeon
  • A Cormorant
  • A Lawyer's Bag
  • A Penitent's Hood
  • A Coif (a padded chain-mail hood)
  • An Otter
  • A Well-downed Goose
Some of these options, he found, were not so good, for instance the ear flaps of crimson satin, of which he stated:
...there were a lot of turdy gilt spangles on them, and they took all the skin off my bottom. May St. Anthony's fire burn the bum-gut of the goldsmith who made them and of the lady who wore them!
As for paper, it left him less than satisfied with the results:
Who his foul bum with paper wipes will on his ballocks leave some chips.
But it is the last option, the well-downed goose, that left him most satisfied:
But to conclude, I say and maintain that there is no arse-wiper like a well-downed goose, if you hold her neck between your legs. You must take my word for it, you really must. You get a miraculous sensation in your arse-hole, both from the softness of the down and from the temperate heat of the goose herself; and this is easily communicated to the bum-gut and the rest.

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