At the Seaside

I nipped down to PC World the other day and purchased a CD cleaner. When I got it home I found that removing the thing from its packaging was a task akin to something that would not have been out of place on 'The Krypton Factor.' Back when I was a kid if you bought something and it wasn’t in a brown paper bag, the thing you had bought was not wrapped. I think it was sometime in the early sixties when packaging got silly and I recalled an incident back at 28 Connell Road one Friday night in the summer, the day we set out for our annual holiday in Cornwall. That summer was hot and Dad had spent over an hour loading the Morris Oxford with all manner of luggage, holiday paraphernalia and of course the blow lamp for tea the next morning. As a consequence he was hot and bothered. Dad decided he would take a quick bath prior to setting out and as a result he could use the last of the hot water to save wasting it.

Now the bath tub back then was nothing like the ones we use today. It was enamel, very large and very deep. It was so deep in fact that when it came time to get out of the bath one had to be very careful that you didn’t succumb to the effects of the bends. Back then we cleaned the bath with a product called Vim, which was a scouring powder which contained various chemicals and came usually in a cylindrical cardboard container about eight inches high. That particular week however Mom had seen the new improved version of the product in the local shop. This new version came in a pink plastic container and although the powder was still white, for some reason it turned blue when it became wet or even damp. Mom figured that the new container would look far more appealing on the bathroom shelf than the old one, a fact I seem to recall that the manufacturers were keen to promote.

And so Dad went to take a bath. The atmosphere in the house was electric as we were, that evening, setting off on an adventure to the South West. Mom was damping down the living room fire which she had lit to heat the water for Dad’s ablutions even though the temperature outside allowed you to fry eggs on the garden path, Grandad was explaining to his friend how to manage his pigeons while we were away and I was in a state of giddy excitement. It was during these pre holiday chores that Dad emerged from the bathroom wearing only a towel around his waist to protect his modesty. I recall the conversation that then took place as though it was only yesterday.

Dad: “Joan… don’t buy any more of that talcum power. I don’t like the smell and to be honest it itches. Was it cheap ‘cause it’s turned blue as well?”

Mom: “What talcum powder?”

Dad: “The stuff in the pink plastic container on the shelf.”

Mom: “That’s the bloody Vim you daft bugger.”

It was around this exchange that the chemical reaction started to take place. The hot bath, the hot day and Dads open pores did not help the situation in anyway. He had liberally sprinkled the ‘talc’ in some, if not all of his intimate places and it was clear even to a boy of about 10 years that Dad was in some discomfort. The words, “Bloody hell, Joan, it’s really starting to burn”, confirmed my original suspicions as Dad headed back to the bathroom for another bath. The second dip in the tub I am sure was not as pleasant as the first, as Dad had emptied the hot water tank when he first bathed. So as Dad took his cold second bath Mom, Grandad and me had a quiet giggle. It had to be quiet as to this day my ‘Old Man’ can’t see the funny side. Pain has that effect on people I suppose. Well the outcome was we were a little late setting off but we all arrived in St Agnes the following day but I am certain Dad did not enjoy the drive down.

The weather that year was not kind to us, but as it was in those days, Mom and Dad had booked a chalet by the sea and we would spend time on the beach taking in the sea air even though it was pouring down and we were confined to sit in the Morris. As we looked out over the Atlantic breakers we saw a number of surfers taking advantage of the large waves. Surfing was a relatively new sport in the UK at that time and it really took Dad’s fancy. There was a surf board hire shack on the beach and Dad decided he wanted to try out this new sport. After changing into his swimming gear he made off in the pouring rain, hired a board and made several successful surfs runs. It was at this point he wanted Mom to record the event on the ‘Box Brownie’. So Mom stood on the waters edge with Dad posing in thigh deep water with his surf board. After the photo session Dad held the board out in front of him and turned to face the open sea. It was at this point the Atlantic breaker hit the surf board with the force of a steam hammer. Once again Dad drove himself to hospital where he was treated for a broken nose and severe facial bruising.

Well I could go on and tell you more but I really do have to open this CD cleaner and the only way I can see it being done is with the aid of power tools, so please excuse me till next time.

Copyright © Bob Edwards.