So my ribs are a little poorly, and aside from the painkillers and the warmth of unconditional care, I had the pleasure of a nice little hot water bottle to hold against my bones, easing the ache, and, well, reminding me of another use for a hot water bottle…
I’m back where double glazing was reserved for the well-off, duvets were unheard of, and central heating? No chance. Under a pile of blankets we were as warm as toast in winter at bedtime, however, in the morning, our rooms were so cold that you could see your breath in the air and the tip of the nose would tingle with chill. Window-panes inside would be frosted just as much as the outside, and often there was the temptation to scribble with a pale, chilly finger, pictures onto the glass. In the evening though there was always a hot water bottle; this would be placed in the bed where feet would eventually rest, as the belief was that if your feet were warm, then the rest of your body would warm up nicely too. With little feet and toes blissfully warmed, the bottle, as it was fondly referred to, could be cuddled in against the tummy and chest.
I’m still not a fan of the cold but there’s something refreshing and energizing about being wrapped up cosy in winter time, and being out and about. Almost all of us have warm homes to nest in these days and most of the places we visit in our day and daily are heated; our cars too are luxurious havens, warming up in minutes, offering an oven-like solace from the elements; apart from a time when I owned an old Renault Five and recall one snowy, bitterly cold day, having to stop the thing every mile or so because the heaters didn’t work and the screen inside insisted on freezing over – so in winter, life seems to consist of hopping from one warm building or room to another – with the hops being as short as possible, wherever possible.
Sometimes you know, there were folk who didn’t enjoy the luxury of an inside loo; for a number of years, we were such folk. For the boys, having a wee wasn’t too bad. A short dash across the yard, then a short dash back into the house to wash up. However, for the girls, it was a little more uncomfortable – it could be that because of outside loos in winter time, the girls would have stronger legs than the boys – I’ll let you think about that… Now for both the boys and the girls, there were times when taking a seat just couldn’t be avoided. Have you ever thrown yourself into an unheated pool or the sea, even in summertime? That familiar shock to the system and several sharp intakes of breath – speech rendered impossible, words incomprehensible and being panted out! That’s the only analogy I can think of when comparing sitting on the seat of an outside loo, in the middle of winter. Not me though. Oh, no. No way would Robert suffer the harshness of freezing cold plastic – of course I know after a short time the seat would warm up but that initial shock of cold, tensing of the whole body, the held breath and the clenching of fists until brave enough to relax, was more than enough for me to insist that my seat was pre-warmed. I’m sorry but this is how it would be. I would have sooner suffered than put my soft little self through the torment of a freezing loo seat. I wouldn’t tell mum or dad that I was off out to the privvy, I’d simply chirp, “can I have the bottle?”.
Oh, and yes, hygienic measures would be taken to ensure that the bottle was rubbed clean with a suitable disinfectant. The difficult part was dancing around the legs of mum or dad, willing the kettle to boil!