Sunday, 8 January 2012

The fur lined belly button warmer

So, I know what you are thinking, that I look nothing like Princess Di.  Well that would be because my grandmother had a more striking resemblance to Winston Churchel than to Princess Diana!!!  How unfair was that!!!

I actually know very little about my father’s side of the family as he rarely speaks of them.  What little information I have I mostly gleaned from my mum and nana.

As a small child I thought my grandparents lived the other side of the world, because our visits to them were quite infrequent and their visits to us were even rarer.  I remembered passing through narrow lanes with fields and cows which made it seem so far away to me, as we lived in the centre of town.  But in actual fact, they lived in Knutsford and we were just a mere four miles away in Altrincham.  I later learned that dad visited them regularly but mostly at night after work so we kids seldom had the opportunity to go along.

As a child I never heard any negative comments about my grandparents and we kids held them in high regard.  I treasured each moment with them and considered it a rare privilege whenever I got to visit.  I used to think they were quite well-to-do too, because Grandma spoke ‘posh’ as compared to my nana’s Geordie accent and they owned their own home as opposed to Nana’s rented house with an outside toilet and they also had a car (which was quite rare in the sixties, though we had a couple of cars too).

Dad had one younger brother whom we saw even more infrequently than my grandparents.  If dad didn’t have the opportunity to visit his brother at Christmas, gifts were not exchanged.  So we usually got to tag along with dad on his annual visit to uncle Stan’s house.  Again our visits were at night so our younger cousins were always well tucked in bed and had it not been for the photos on the TV I wouldn’t have known what they looked like.

Uncle Stan was a successful businessman and accountant and we always got to see the latest gadgets on our visits, (which would always whet dad’s appetite).  Dad, unlike uncle Stan, would study reviews and the ‘Which?’ magazine for months before risking purchasing anything of value.  He would let his brother be the guinea pig while Stan would get things hot off the press.  So our annual visits were usually consumed with talk about gadgets and we learned nothing of how the family feared only about the latest gadgets.

Though our visits to uncle Stan’s were rare, it was enough to get dad started on the road to gadgets.  He got every gadget that came out.  Everything in the house was electric or some latest technology.  We had an electric garbage compacter, an electric egg boiler (which incidentally still took 3 minutes to boil the egg!!), an electric plastic bag sealer and more.  Even our bins (trash can), and the toilet seats way back had some kind of hydraulic mechanism so the lids didn’t make a noise!!  When it came to Christmas, my poor mum found it so hard to find a gift to get him that he didn’t already have.  Then she eventually found it, it was 'a fur lined belly button warmer'!!  So then he finally had everything!!  (At least until the next gadget came out).  

Dad is now 79 and you would think that he'd have gotten over the 'gadget thing' by now, but not at all.  Now there is QVC and online shopping and dad has lots of time to shop in the comfort of his Bowdon home.  He even learned to like coffee when those handy dandy gourmet coffee machines came out!! 

Me?  Gadgets?  Please!!!  I had to go right back in time, to something I had never known before in my lifetime, which was a time of washing clothes by hand without the luxury of hot water!!!  Hydraulic toilet seats??  Our WC is made up of three toilets of differing sizes and colour, and only flushes on a good day!!  All this of course now that I find myself living here in the Philippines (though lately mum has been shipping me all the gadgets dad's finished with- but not the fur lined belly button warmer, it's too hot for that here!! So now I'm reaping the benefit of dad's little pastime. Thanks mum!!).

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