24 May 2012

You Never Know What You've Got Until You Look (2)

And oh, brother, do you not know!  I'm currently clearing space in the loft so that we can have some of it boarded, and so far have found many a forgotten item among the expected ninety gazillion tons of old cardboard boxes and polystyrene packaging:

Wire filing trays, 1970s vintage - the kind that stack together with spring clips, which is a nice theory, but...

Cassette racks - what?  Oh, yeah, like about three lifetimes ago we had these quaint little plastic slabs full of magnetic tape containing recordings of stuff.  GREAT fun if they lost the plot and spewed tape out, whereupon you would rewind them with a special technical tool called a Bic™ biro.

A Spong™ hand-operated food mincer, made of iron with a wooden handle.  Ah, antiques - even longer ago, when Keith and I were sprogs, we would watch as our mothers clipped one of these to a table or chair seat and minced up ingredients for cooking - typically meat for a shepherds pie.  And afterwards you could mince a piece of stale bread to help clean it.  Since they pushed the food down onto the mincing blade with their fingers, I have no idea how they didn't mince their fingers as well - but also remember a cookery page in a newspaper at the time advocating 'Try your hand with eggs and cut down on the meat bills', which may have been a passing reference to such things.

Some small bifurcated plastic traylets, purpose completely unknown.  Suitable make half-cylindrical ice lollies (to use advertisement-speak) but no slots for sticks.  Ah, more childhood memories...

A Philips Ultraphil™ Health Lamp, complete in original box (sadly not the rare early 1950s version, of which I've seen one currently for sale on the web at £240).  Wonder if our nearest 'Electrical Charity Shop' would be interested in it for its collectible status anyway?   

An exercise bike - yes, well...

A late 60s/ early 70s gas fire.  How we put it up there is a mystery, as it weighs a ton, and why we put it up there is an even bigger one.  Will probably act on the advice quoted by a friend who had a similarly redundant example - "Put it in your front hedge" suggested the gas fitter "the gippos will take it".  Now we used to have a perfectly good totter, aka rag and bone man, though I haven't seen him for a while.  He was always known as the Agbo man after his 'cry' of "Aggg.... Bo-o!" which he would shout in strangely lugubrious tones as he motored slowly down the street.  Perhaps in another life it had been "Bring out your dead!"?

The cats are quite happy, as ever, to take advantage help out of course...Harry decided to subdue a nice piece of 1970s wool carpet offcut by sleeping on it.  Only trouble was, it was at the foot of the ladder...

07 May 2012

The Stone Menagerie no 3

One of my favourite aunts was sometimes heard to observe "Some people aren't hardly human, are they?" - but this monkey from the Entrance Hall of the Natural History Museum in London looks all too human to me!  Here again I'm cheating a bit, as this is terra cotta rather than stone, but stone is definitely the effect produced, especially with its exposure to the gentle habits (and grime) of the visiting public since 1881.

The Nat Hist Mus building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse as (quote) "a cathedral of nature", so it's not surprising that I've always enjoyed its architecture, but I'd forgotten the amazing quality of the creatures that decorate it so lavishly.  I was charmed to learn that Waterhouse's intricate designs, many of them with a background of foliage, were translated into their 3-D form by the not inappropriately named Monsieur Dujardin - not that there seemed to be any info about the building on display, which is sadly quite usual for London's museums.  Happily the website is fairly forthcoming:

04 May 2012

You Never Know What You've Got Until You Look (1)

The other day I was repairing our coat stand for the umpteenth time and thought it might actually stay together a leetle bit longer if I used some rawlplugs for the fastenings. A quick rummage in the toolbox revealed that there were none that would do, but that there was a tin of something called Rawlplastic. I opened the lid and cautiously prooded the plastic-wrapped greyish contents: "Hmm, that looks like asbestos". I closed the lid again and looked at the instructions - yep.

CAUTION: This product contains asbestos, but will present no health hazard if used with care. Always keep container closed, even when in use, [now THAT is CAUTION - if I can't open the lid to get any out, then it's true that it's unlikely to do me any harm], and avoid inhaling fibres [true, never a good idea]. Dampen the product immediately after removal from the container [still haven't worked out how to do this while keeping the container closed, but I'm sure that's just a minor technical difficulty], and thoroughly wash hands after use.

 So it sort of isn't safe but is? But then as it came from the long-changed hands Homepride D.I.Y store in Greenford Road, and cost the princely sum of £1.27p, I would guess that we've had it for something above twenty years - apart from anything else, I can't imagine that any product these days comes with so much punctuation in the instructions - so I think I shan't be using it after all...