In My Day
the ramblings of Hubert James

In my day it was about this time of year that technology first entered the kitchen in our little council house.

Oh yes, electricity had brought us the electric kettle and there was talk of fridges and dreams of television to replace our trusty wireless, but this was the ultimate labour saving device.

In our case the arrival of this magical equipment was prompted by a trip to Finedon’s legendary cinema.

My dear mother’s brother Uncle Vic saw himself as a man of some education having passed his 11 plus and gone to Grammar. He’d read books and had a passing familiarity with William Shakespeare, so when, for one night only, Laurence Olivier’s film of Henry V. was being shown, Uncle Vic ‘treated’ me and my parents to a night out.

Now it has to be said that the three of us and my mother in particular found the trailers for coming attractions and the other adverts much more entertaining than Larry O giving it some welly.

In fact, sandwiched between the advert for a Curry House in Burton and the obligatory Kia Ora tempter, my mother saw the future and that future was a Hotpoint Twin Tub washing machine.

Her eyes lit up and were still shining when we left the cinema. Uncle Vic assumed that her warm glow was the result of the Bard’s stirring lyrics, but no, the twin tub had won her heart.

So with the help of HP she took delivery of the Rolls Royce of the laundry. To be fair the whole family were excited. As a child I was transfixed by the mechanics. In particular there was a rubber disc that fitted into the top of the spin cylinder which I was fascinated by and played with endlessly. With hindsight I think I probably invented the frisby. I know none of this sounds exciting nowadays but at the time we believed this contraption was the work of genius.

Every Saturday mother would drag it out from under the kitchen counter so she could attach the water-pipe to the cold tap. She would load up the washing tub, bung in some powder and set the cycle in motion. And it was literaly ‘in motion’. Once the spin cycle reached top gear the whole machine would set off across the kitchen lino like some demented Dalek.

Not satisfied with sitting back and letting the machine take the strain, mother liked to experiment with its abilities.. She occasionally substituted the powder with whatever she found lying at the back of the cupboard. Once she tried white vinegar but of course the clothes came out pickled. However, she did find that a tablespoon of bleach made the clothes a tiny bit cleaner. She didn’t seem to notice that it also rotted your underwear.

Uncle Vic always credited Henry V with mother’s renaissance. If he ever visited when the twin tub was performing he would quote Will Shakespeare; Once more in with the bleach, dear friends, once more; And clothes will freshen with our English Daz!