Friday, April 9, 2010

If You Can't Stand the Heat - Get out of the Kitchen!

1947 was one of the coldest winters in history. My Mum was 14 years old and my Nanna had been widowed the year before. Two of my uncles were in the armed forces, but with 6 children still living at home, money was tight.

The toilet was at the bottom of the small yard - this kept freezing up. The only room that had any heat was the kitchen with its coal fired range.

All of the family were very cold. So cold in fact, that Mum and two of her sisters decided that they would be warmer if they all shared one bed.

They all had jumpers hand knitted by Nanna, but in the days before it was acceptable for girls to wear trousers, chapped legs were inevitable from the walk to school.

When my Mum eventually had a home of her own, she vowed that she would never be cold again.

We had an open fire in our living room when I was growing up. The fire was always well stoked.

The open fire had a back boiler, so not only was the room warm - we always had plenty of hot water too.

To have kept a fire going like that with coal would have cost a fortune, so Mum always found some wood to keep it going.

Early in her married life, she bought herself a small axe.

My Mum would chop up all sorts of things to put on the fire. In no time at all she would turn something like this...............................

into this............

Of course, with all that heat, it was a regular occurrence for the chimney to catch fire!

Our local Fire Brigade came so many times, my Dad always joked with us that we would be invited to the Brigade's Children's Christmas Party!

Everyone teased my Mum about her axe and the things she chopped up, particularly her brother-in-law, my Uncle John.

One day, my uncle popped round. They had just moved into a house in the next street. He asked Mum if he could borrow her axe to chop up their wooden tea chests.

At first, Mum refused point blank. There was always a personality clash with the pair of them, so she didn't like to do him any favours.

Eventually, she relented on condition that he took great care of the axe and also gave her the wood from the chopped up chests.

Well, my Dad has a saying that you should never lend out tools.

Wouldn't you know it - Uncle John broke Mum's axe!

At first, he didn't dare tell her, and kept making various excuses why he hadn't brought it back.

One day, he must have been feeling very brave - he decided to confess.

Mumsie hit the roof and called him a bleeping bleep bleep and other such similar names. She even accused him of breaking it on purpose!

Uncle John eventually managed to calm her down. He promised her faithfully that he would make a new handle for the axe, and if he couldn't mend it - he would buy her a new one.

A couple of nights after her argument with Uncle John, Mumsie had a dream.

My Mum hardly ever remembers her dreams, but when she does they are so lucid and vividly true to life that they can quite upset her.

In the dream, Uncle John brought back the mended axe. He was really teasing her, hiding it behind his back and up high in the air.

She finally got the axe off him, so he turned away and started to walk up the passage, still taunting her and calling her "Lizzie Borden". She became so angry that she threw the axe at him so hard - she completely lopped off his arm!
(You are remembering that this is a dream, aren't you?)

Mum woke up in blind panic - sweat running off her. It was 7.30a.m. and although she knew it was only a dream, she just had to go round straight away to check that he was alright.

Because my aunty and uncle were having a new bathroom put in, my uncle was having a shave in the kitchen. Not an ideal arrangement as this was in the days before shaving foam in a can.

So there's Uncle John, trying to have a shave, juggling with his shaving brush, shaving bowl, razor and towel when Mum knocks at the door.

Usually we would knock and walk in at their house, but because it was so early, the door was still locked.

Uncle John went to the door holding all of his shaving gear.

"Who is it?" asked Uncle John.

"It's me, Aud. Let me in!" shouted Mum.

Because he had his hands full, he couldn't manage to turn the key, so he shouted to his wife,

"Can you come and unlock the door for Aud - I can't manage to do it - I've only got one hand."

When they opened the door, my poor old Mumsie was lying on the garden path - she'd fainted!


karen said...

Love that story!!! My Dad used to tell a good story. I'm going to find a few from his diary he left me and put them in a post sometime. Life was hard back then, but I think people appreciated things much more than todayxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

Ah, thanks for my weekly dose of humour, I am still trying to work out if this is a true story, or one of your little jokes :)

BusyLizzie said...

fab & its the way you tell 'em!

Christy said...

Even a less than wonderful day is salvaged when I can read one of your fun stories! Thanks so much for the giggle this gave me today!

jackanne said...

i laughed so much i have now got hicups..................xx

Sophie - Chez Sophie said...

Oh I needed that, it has put a smile on my face.
Luv Sophie xxx

VintageWantsNotNeeds said...

You really need to find a platfom to tell your family tales on - have you ever thought of treading the boards as a stand-up comedienne. I for one would pay to hear some of your funny stories. Thanks for making me chuckle AGAIN.....

Menopausal musing said...

I think VintageWantsNotNeeds has a good point...............

You are very funny and a very good story teller....


Sandie's Patch said...

Brilliant! I love your tales!
I must tell you and other bloggers a few tales from our family's past!

Thanks for making me LOL!

Sandie xx

Taz said...

LOL that was an armless story :)