Reading about the Age of Austerity of 1945 to 1954 in Great Britain for those who lived through part of it inevitably forces one’s memory back if not to all of that period (after all I wasn’t alive for some of it) at least as far back as early memories will go. Specifically to the bathroom.
Which in our case we did not have.
The kitchen doubled as the bathroom and the bath (in the kitchen) had a hinged cover which made it into a sort of breakfast and casual meal table.
I can even remember having a bath in the sink! And my especial delight at the end of the cleaning process was to have a measuring jug full of cold water poured over me!
These specific memories have been prompted not only by my reading but also by my attempting to rationalize the number of bottles and jars that I have on shelves in the bathroom.
What did I have when I was a small (!) kid in the bathroom? Soap (Cussons? Imperial Leather? Lifebuoy?) a flannel; a nailbrush; a toothbrush and toothpaste (Gibbs SR?) – and that was it. Shampoo? Not always. Toilet paper? Not always and certainly not soft.
Yet now there is a positive array of soaps, unguents, oils and various other things littering the shelves. And this is not counting four drawers of assorted stuff elsewhere in the bathroom. On the principle of lightening the load of a 747 by emptying the ashtrays I pounced on something which seemed to be clearly sensible.
Ten drops and a splash of water and there is your oral hygiene. Done. One small 100 ml bottle sufficient for 50 odd mouthwashes.
The clever thing about this product is that when water is added the resulting mixture goes milky thereby indicating that something is happening. And its taste is revolting – so it is clearly doing you good.
I remember my grandfather’s toothpaste was Euthymol a revolting pink sludge with a taste of how hospitals smelled. My concentrated mouthwash is very much reminiscent of that: vile and it stings. For a boy brought up on TCP, who could ask for more?
I have been loaned the admirably quirky titled book, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The original story was by Shaffer but, before publication she was too ill to make the changed suggested by her publisher and she entrusted the task to her niece Barrows to see it through.
The novel uses the old-fashioned and unfashionable technique of the epistolary style but, as is usual with those fictional correspondents who are not averse to writing lengthy letters, there is little disadvantage to be found.
The USP of the novel is its setting in immediate post war Guernsey and much of the action of the novel is concerned with the description of war time experiences. There is a real experience of finding out something about a part of Britain which is much nearer France than England.
The love element reminded me of Bridget Jones and the whole tone of the story seems like an odd mixture of “Cold Comfort Farm” with “Goodbye to all that” and the literary references sometimes seem a little meretricious and self congratulatory, but the book itself is a charming and undemanding read spiced with interesting information. A good beach read for the summer.
And the rain is falling steadily and has been since just before the end of school. Not happy.