The Great Bogroll Falacy (Second Outing!)

I had hoped to write about the travel options and my thoughts on these after the Moot Monday. Well. For those who weren’t there, it was a surprisingly heavy one. Lots of information came very quickly – far more details than I was expecting at this stage, and so there’s an awful lot to digest before I write. In part to fill the gap, and in part to make a point or two that I’ve been considering for a while, I’ve decided to up-rev an old post from the last Jamboree.

This is a “top tip” that appears before every event I’ve ever been on. From Jamborees, Moots and even some of the smaller events around the UK (and world) I’ve been to. It’s one I have, in the style of Mythbusters, debunked a few years ago, but thought it worth another visit in the run up to the Moot.

This is a slightly tongue in cheek post, but I think does serve an important purpose. I am of course talking about the Great Bog Roll Fallacy.

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As I said, it crops up before just about every event. Without fail someone decides to impart something that was once imparted unto them as a pearl of wisdom, and I paraphrase:

“As soon as you get to the site, go to the toilet block and take a toilet roll. Put it in your backpack and carry it round with you. That way you’re guaranteed to have it when you need it.”

On the surface, this seems a somewhat sensible suggestion. There will be occasions where the toilets are out of commission because there are fewer bog-rolls than there are toilets. Having your own, independent, supply is fairly forward thinking. Be Prepared, Skills for Life, She’ll be right Bruce, etc.

The problem is, that scenario is likely to be about two hours into day 1 of the Moot if everyone follows that advice and more than 75% of the Moot is going to be faced with an absence of Bog Roll. Simply, if even a significant proportion of those attending followed this advice, the Moot site will run out of bog roll before the first night between pilfering and legitimate usage.

Because the Internet is a weird and wonderful thing, I’ve found a website with some statistics about toilet roll use.

It suggests that the average person uses around 2 toilet rolls per week. Unsurprisingly females tend to use more, but 2(ish) is what I’m going with for now because it’s a nice round number and I’m going to eliminate all the calculation error with some handwaving when I start rounding later on.

Given there’s about 6,500 folk going to be on site for near enough two weeks, we’re talking about 26,000 toilet rolls being on site for the Moot I’d guess the actual number is closer to 40,000 with all the day visitors, VIPs and a sizeable contingency – because lets face it, who wants 6,500 Scouts and Guides to run out of toilet roll. I for one, don’t/

This sounds a lot. It is a lot. With an average mass per roll of 0.227Kg (again, I love the internet…) that’s between 6 and 9 metric Tonnes of toilet paper. Based on the average dimensions of 11cm diameter (5.5cm radius) and 10cm length a volume of a single toilet roll (2πr(^2)l) is 346 cubic centimetres, which multiplied up (and allowing for packaging/pallets etc.) is the equivalent of around one sixth to a whole 40ft ISO Containers rammed full of the stuff. To put it another way, between a long wheelbase Mercedes Sprinter and an articulated lorry full of bog roll.

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A Standard 40ft ISO Container. Image Courtesy of Cleveland Containers

For this reason, I rather suspect that not all the rolls will be on site for day one. They are likely to be part of phased, scheduled deliveries, with a quantity arriving either daily or every couple of days so that quantities can be adjusted as necessary.

Which means, there is not likely to be enough toilet rolls on site for one each at any one point. Suggesting, if people start “misappropriating” toilet rolls, then we may end up with issues across the site. Issues where the brown sticky stuff has hit the big whirly thing, in a manner of speaking.

As toilets use up all their roll, they become less used, meaning a greater burden is put upon those which are still in use. This leads to increased queues for the toilets. As toilets are used more, and more, and more, they become what I can only call “grim”. There were certain toilets in Japan, through overuse and the heat, that I’m fairly sure score as illegal in terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and certainly the Geneva Convention.

Unlike the last Jamboree, I suspect these toilets will not be permanent features but instead will be the usual UK Festival hot-box type portaloo. I don’t know how many of you have been to a festival, but after a long weekend’s misuse, those things aren’t much fun. Even at the “family friendly” Bearded Theory of Beautiful days, you don’t want to be camped anywhere near them.

What I’m trying to get across is that the offered “Top Tip” is meant well, and it kinda makes sense. But taking a toilet roll from the site to carry round with you is going to have knock on effects. We have all (well, most of us) promised to be Friendly and Considerate as part of our Scout Law, pilfering bog roll is not being this.

I’m sure many of us remember scenes like this from last year….

It also puts undue pressure on the Bog Squad. I’m not sure of the exact arrangements, but these could be IST just like me and my friends, who have paid a huge sum of money to go and become intimately familiar with the U-bend of toilets in a foreign field. These guys don’t have a great job, so if we can make it as easy for them as possible, I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

So, what can I suggest?


Bring Your Own Bog(roll).

It might take up 0.227Kg of your luggage allowance, but if you have a particularly favourite brand, it might not be available in Ireland, and having a roll of Andrex ultra-quilted (or whatever, I am, surprisingly, not a connoisseur of bog roll) might be something that’s useful to have. It’s also worth noting that for most of the Participants, weight isn’t a massive issue.

Given the other uses of toilet paper, from blowing your nose through to first aid equipment or wiping surfaces down, it’s probably something useful to have about the site.

This will ease the use of such a vital commodity on the Moot site, and mean that when toilets do start running out, you’ll have a spare in your rucksack that lets you jump to the front of the queue and enter what is likely a cleaner, less used toilet because you have the power. The power to wipe!

The other point I’d like to make is simply, “Be careful what you read on the Internet”. It’s a great and powerful tool – who knew there were websites devoted to statistics about toilet paper! – but it’s easy to read advice that appears useful at first glance but actually has consequences you might not have thought about.

I’ve said before, I write in Good Faith. I write based on my own experiences and opinions. I’m not omniscient, I don’t know what your thought process is, or what your individual needs are. No stranger on the internet professing self-proclaimed wisdom does. I think anyone with a platform like mine has a responsibility to be, well, responsible about what they say and how they say it. I’m not contingent official, and I absolutely shouldn’t be – but folk need to remember that when they read what I write.

But to quote Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Sometimes I will get it wrong. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t know everything – even if I do have an opinion on it. This event is shaping up to be very different from any other I’ve been on. In part due to the whole pandemic thing, in part because of the way it’s being organised over in Ireland and in part because of the way the contingent is being led.

One of the best bits about the Moot as an event, in my opinion, is that we’re all adults. We have the power to vote, to drive, to drink etc. etc. etc. We come from various backgrounds, from all around the UK and have lived a little, or in some cases, a lot. We’ve built a bank of memories, of experiences, and opinions. We are, most importantly, capable of making our own informed decisions based on the evidence presented to us and our interpretation of that.

No one knows you, or your needs better than you do, and you need to take all the well-meaning advice as just that. Take it all with a pinch of salt. I was once told by a friend who studied philosophy that people are either trying to sell you something or lying – I’m not really selling (unless folk particularly want a t-shirt or mug with “Martin’s Top Tips” on it) and I don’t think I’m lying, so I’m not sure if that statement’s entitely true, but it’s a good litmus test on advice or guidance.

Read everything twice and understand your sources. A lot of opinions will be flying round before the Moot – this all included. The only official stuff comes from the Contingent Website, everything else – again this included – is rumours and speculation and should be treated like it.

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