11 Dec 2010

And Then There Was Coal….

You’re probably eagerly awaiting an update on that ol’ dehumidifying fellow.

Okay then, so, well, moving right along then………

Talking to ‘her indoors’ during the cold evenings, her being from a warmer place, I got to talking about my childhood and younger days of winter time. As the inside of my head started to freeze over, I recounted the days I remember before central heating, or as she calls it, ‘Turn on the gladiatols.’ It’s hard to remember exactly what it must’ve been like back then, soft as I are now.

Remember that? One coal fire in the sitting room? Or if you were that posh kid, the lounge. Coal fires in the bedrooms that were never lit in my memory. The happy days sitting within two feet of the coal fire for warmth, being able to move out to six feet as the room slowly warmed up which seemed to be very close to bed time. The draughts. Oh dear, dear me, the draughts! They blew in from windows, doors, up between floorboards, from, it seemed like, the solid walls even. Those draughts!

Bed time? That freezing walk to a freezing bedroom and a freezing bed except for that wonderful area immediately round the hot water bottle, be he one of those new fangled rubber types or of the more conventional stone type. They never leaked did they? Oh.

Amazingly, we lived.

I do remember when we burst into the techno age with the installation of an all night burner. Baxi I believe. Luxury? Last thing at night, bank it up with coal, {or was it a coke burner?}, half cover the fire with ashes and do something cleaver with the under-floor flue. No waiting in the morning! Throw burny stuff on, reverse what you did last night with the flue and you could continue sitting close to the six foot off position. Utter joy! Still cold everywhere else in the house, but that six foot semi-circle was lovely.

You ever get seconded by the old man, on coal delivery day, to stand outside and count the sacks of coal?
”Okay boy, I’ve ordered six sacks. Come and tell me if they get ready to go and you’ve only counted five. Got it?”
"Okay, got it. What if I count seven?”
“If you count seven, don’t worry, just quietly come inside.”
”But if they leave seven and you’ve only paid for six, won’t that be stealing?”
”If they leave five, that’s stealing. If they leave seven, that’s a bonus.”

But will anything ever, of a winters evening, compare to the gorgeous taste of those wedges of fresh bread toasted on the ol’ toasting fork in front of the fire and smothered in fresh butter?

I have to stop now as I’m dribbling on the keyboard. Also, strangely, my head’s started flooding with milk. I’ve just remembered the milk man coming round – with a horse and cart – measuring out milk from the churns into our jug.

Amazingly, we lived.

Quote; Norman Wisdom.

“As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and…. I can't remember the other two.”


Caratacus said...

Sat here in slight wonder - could have been me writing that...

Except for the hot water bottle, never had one of those (pause for self-pitying snivel). But lying in that fridge-like bed waiting for it to slowly (oh so slowly) warm up; trying to keep still but every now and then sending out - or sacrificing - an exploratory foot to see whether the warmth had spread yet, then whipping it back to the foetus shaped area that was just able to support carbon-based life forms... I remember that. O Yes.

Now I am married to a lady who has recalibrated our thermometers so that 20 degrees Centigrade is now 0degrees Memsahib...

Mac said...

I guess you’ll also remember those ‘chilly’ mornings throwing open your bedroom curtains to find, not condensation as we do now, but a sheet of ice. What to do? Scratch your name in it is what to do!!

Let’s not forget those dreaded winter words, combined with the immersion heater being on for an impressive and totally useless 15 minutes, “Come on, it’s bath night!”