Hmm, do I pick two subjects here?
What we consider to be the modern-day toilet is often attributed to Englishman Thomas Crapper, yet whilst he was instrumental in developing plumbing and sanitary goods, Crapper’s involvement with the humble porcelain throne is perhaps overstated. Nonetheless, he set up the first public showrooms for sanitary ware, and was an advocate for greatly improving existing plumbing arrangements. In fact, his development of the U-bend was a major breakthrough for how toilets functioned.
Baths have existed for centuries, though they have dramatically changed over time. Once upon a time, bathing was a fleeting, rare experience, depending upon what part of the world (and what sort of social status) you were born into, though as far back as the Romans, a bath was considered an important part of one’s hygiene routine. Public baths were all the rage at one point, and in some parts of the world, men and women mixed freely, with predictable results! To this day in Japan, public baths require you to be, well, um, naked.
Bathrooms are big business. They can be something of a status symbol. Get the right brand, the brushed gold tap, the ornate, traditional-style slipper bath, and the patterned tiles, and you can create something truly beautiful. Fitting bathrooms is no small feat either. To install a bathroom properly takes time and attention to detail.
The history of writing books is greatly and obviously related to the history of writing itself, and to the development of paper and parchment. Once upon a time, clay tablets were used in parts of the world, particularly in western Asia, whilst in Egypt, papyrus was used for sacred texts. Rome is credited with the early idea of the book, and the Roman Empire spread the idea far and wide.
The first form of what we might consider the ‘modern’ printing press, developed by Johannes Gutenberg, revolutionised reading and writing across Europe, and indeed the world. In the mid 1400s, the printing press would enable the rapid spread of ideas found in books, and the rest is history, that thanks to books, we can record for posterity. The influence of Gutenberg’s invention cannot be overstated, and now, thanks to his work, modern printing can mass produce books like never before, though it’s not all about the paper book anymore.
E-readers have enjoyed a rapid rise in popularity in recent years. I, like many, own a Kindle, and let’s face it, they’re fantastically convenient. It is now possible to store dozens, even hundreds of books, onto a device that’s thinner than every book ever printed (well, more or less). E-reader apps mean people can now read books on their phones, so, potentially at least, anyone who owns a smartphone has a library in their pocket. What would Gutenberg make of that notion?