Saturday, March 19, 2005

Facist Flush for John's John

Toilet paper bought for Mussolini’s visit to the loo at a remote castle in Umbria is being rolled out to visitors at a new military museum.

Eccentric Englishman John Tunstill, who owns La Preghiera – a restored 12th century monastery in Italy - has put the collection of loo rolls on display in the soldier museum he has opened within the monastery, now a luxury guest house.

John ran a thriving soldier shop in London’s Lambeth, near the Imperial War Museum, for many years before moving with his wife to Italy 20 years ago.

He has more than 25,000 lead figures covering the 100 years between 1880 and 1980, as well as rare and unusual Victorian prints of military scenes, medals, flags, books and other assorted memorabilia.



Another News Release, one day, the presentation “scroll” of all serving men and officers to the departing Colonel of the Middlesex Hussars, about 1880.
However, it is the remnants of Mussolini’s toiletries which are currently causing the biggest stir – even winning Il Duce or John ? a slot on Italian TV!

John, 65, was given the box of loo rolls by the former owners of a Palazzo at Pierantonio, which Mussolini visited in the mid-1930s.
The dictator was in town to witness a special military parade on the flat-bottomed valley of the Tiber but, in those days, toilet paper was rarely used in Umbria, not even by the gentry.

The bust of the Dictator was left on John’s doorstep one night by a local who preferred to remain anonymous. Later the phone rang, John answered and the voice asked if he had found a surprise, John said yes, and thankyou, John recognised the owner’s voice, but one doesn’t look the gifthorse…………………….

The Umbrian locals were happy to use soft leaves or old newspapers for their intimate cleansing, but the owners of the Palazzo clearly thought Mussolini so important that they specially imported a box of toilet paper (FROM WHERE??, probably Roma)

Some rolls were used by Mussolini and the Ducal entourage during their three-day stay, but the rest remained untouched in a box for more than 70 years. Now, they take pride of place in the soldier museum, (IN THEIR ORIGINAL PACKAGING, YES) but John is considering installing them in glass cases in La Preghiera’s luxury en-suite bathrooms “break glass in case of emergency!”

He said: “The owners of the Palazzo obviously felt Il Duce deserved royal treatment and ordered in the box of toilet paper specially for his visit. It is not recorded how many were used, but I’m delighted to have acquired the ones that were left!”

Visitors caught short in Umbria can see Mussolini’s toilet rolls personally at La Preghiera, Calzolaro, near Umbertide – or look at them on website http://www.soldierssoldiers.com/, http://www.lapreghiera.com/ !