Saturday, January 31, 2009


Thought all you people living through a properly cold winter (and taking beautiful pictures thereof) would appreciate the humour in the UK media's prediction that tomorrow night temperatures here will 'plummet' (!) to minus 4C!

I know! You BARBECUE in that in Ohio, right?!!

Anyway, Mrs H, ever the loving and dutiful mother, today bought our two girlies a fluffy hot waterbottle each. Such excitement!

These things (in their primitive, unfluffy, versions) were standard issue in my UK 70s childhood.

It was cold there.

Central Heating was a concept unknown; we had an open fire in the front room and a stinky paraffin heater in the back, and that was it. Rooms and heating sources would never be used simultaneously. Basically, you shut the door on your room of choice for the evening and you Stayed In There. If you had to go to the toilet (best avoided), you ran upstairs (ascent of The Eiger), did your business and ran back down again quick as you could to rejoin humanity and re-shut the door, repositioning the crudely-fashioned-by-auntie sausage-dog draught excluder swiftish, or there'd be trouble.

At bedtime you cleaned your teeth in 30 seconds, sluiced the coldest tapwater you'd ever tasted down your throat and dived under the blankets; and you clung to that hot waterbottle for dearest life until the bed, or at least 10 square inches of it, became (allegedly) warm.

Meanwhile, as you struggled to sleep, frost spread like streptococchi across your bedroom window. On the inside.

Pah! Young people today!

White Stripes - 'In The Cold, Cold Night' (2003)


  1. Everything about the 70s memories chimes out loud and proud and true (the smell of paraffin heaters still gives me the most astonishing memory rush) EXCEPT that unlike you (clearly) (adopts yorkshire accent) we were so poor that going to the toilet meant going outside. And, for that matter, having a bath involved a tin bath in front of the fire on the kitchen lino floor (which was fantastic). Not only that but for ages (possibly only very briefly but it felt like for ever) we had a colony of toads living in the back garden so going out to the loo meant risking treading on a toad. This happened quite often. Either that or you'd get to the loo and there'd be a couple of them staring at you and, as every gentleman knows, you simply couldn't go then. Actually I don't think we were poor at all but instead suffered from that problem of my folks having fallen for a house so heavily that they stared straight through its failings. This is all true.

  2. *sometimes he still dreams of the toads*

  3. Oh my dear, once again, you are way too kind. And speaking of having grown hellishly used to the cold, I must admit, today I ventured out early when it was 4 degrees (fahrenheit of course) and thought "hell no." Especially when the asthma kicked in.

    A couple of hours later, at 12 degrees, I stepped back out, and ... "oh yes, this is MUCH better."


  4. P.S. I covet the girls' water bottle. I'd really, really like a water bottle, any old one, but that is too cute.

  5. You should have mentioned Chilblains, no one gets those anymore.

  6. Or gammy legs. They've gone out of fashion too. Once I was in the market here and The Old Bloke on one of the stalls actually said 'my gammy leg is giving me gyp'. Made my day.

  7. Hot water bottle, luxury, we had a clay pig that my mother filled up with hot water and put in your bed until you got in.

    We, however did have electric storage heaters which would give you 3rd degree burns if you touched them but were effective in heating about 1 square metre of the room.
    Did you lot have those brown and orange bed covers (what was it about colour schemes in the 70s) and itchy rough blankets as well?

    I also still love the smell of paraffin but the heaters must be banned on health and safety grounds these days.

  8. 'Boom boom boom boom. Esso Blue'.

    Keep your wick damp davy, we can get thru' this.

    Itchy rough blankets drew - spot on. Candy striped sheets and a candlewick bedspread. Helped if you had a pot to piss in .. which is more than I have today! (Just don't kick the fucker over in the morning).

    My brother half pissed and half asleep one night, staggered across the bedroom, lifted the lid on my prize Dansette record player and pissed in it. Utter utter Twat!

    Stand by for a country brought to its knees again by 3 cm of snow on a Monday morning.

  9. Just keep wearing the mouse hat Dickie.

  10. I was always the one sent out to buy the bloody paraffin.....hate the smell of it then, hate it even more now.

    Great bit of writing Davy.

  11. I know you're sick of me going on about it but it was a lovely day here today, didn't even need a jacket.

    I think Chilblains ceased to exist in the 90s.

  12. electric blanket. bed heaven.