Childhood adage comes good

Two to wipe and one to polish.

Every now and then our parents would go on a budget frenzy and we'd have the sit-down chat.

"Two to wipe and one to polish," Dad would say. And so this phrase has gone down in family lore and become a source of great hilarity.

I was that child who would delight in flicking the roll of paper, until it hurtled to the floor making a delightful whirring sound. Then I'd scrunch up the paper in a ball bigger than my fist and let it do its business. It was little wonder that my father would notice the rapid loss of paper and thus prompt our little family talks.

I have two siblings and was skilled at diversion, so I would look innocently from one to another in a bid to deflect the blame. Who knew who was responsible for such a loss of paper? It could have been anyone.

I also mastered this art in class, where there were about five Linda's, casting my eyes from one to the other when my teacher would yell out the name, visibly shaking and clutching the blackboard ruler.

I was a fairly noisy child, who sang a lot. My family were so used to blocking out the constant sound of my singing (my usual place in the family car was in the boot of the station wagon, not that that reduced the volume) that they kept their distance at most times. Hence I could create the toilet paper offence easily, my singing depriving others of that delightful whirring noise as the paper found the floor.

It's been a long time since we had these little conversations, but Dad's words have stayed with me. And as that person who has not panic bought courtesy of a burgeoning pantry anyway (refer to So It Goes, March 25), I have been exercising that frugality my father wished for.

I am no longer using the voluminous sheets of my youth. I tear off just two pieces, carefully fold (even that is new) and administer this new arrangement. And you know what?

It seems to be working. I am inordinately proud of the savings and the fewer inner cardboard rolls that go into the bin.

It's taken more than 50 years, but it seems that Dad was right.

Oh, except for the "one to polish". Most of the time, I don't even need that.