Minor British Institutions: Izal toilet paper

It is a discomfiting thing to learn that Izal loo roll is still available. Not as discomfiting as it used to be, in the days when this slightly abrasive product was routinely found in school toilets and public conveniences, the harsh price of spending a penny away from home. Today it is not – quite – so harsh.

San Izal has been rebranded Izal, and the tissue seems less unforgiving than before. Make no mistake, this is not the sort of roll that the Andrex puppy would like to romp around with, but it is just a little less austere than before. The scent of disinfectant seems also to have disappeared, which is a bit of a shame for those who like their khazi karma nice and traditional.

It is difficult to believe that, in a world of ultra-soft pastel-hued lavatorial opulence, such a throwback to the age of austerity will still be bought out of choice (it is not particularly cheap either). Some websites market it as a "novelty product". Nostalgia, surely, has its limits: there's no need to scrape the bottom of the barrel.