Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Don't hold Mammy's hand when she's being electrocuted by the radio

Ready-brek. Take a bunch of oats and mill them so fine they're powder, package them up in a bright breakfast-cereal packet and put them on the market as "central heating for kids". You'll have a winner. Only Ready-brek did it already.

1970s TV adverts showed kids in duffle-coats with bright protective auras around them in the winter weather. My experience of duffle-coats was that the aura was probably the smell visualised, but however. I feckin' loved Ready-brek. Made up on milk or part-milk and part-water, the thin, sweet porridge went down a treat. Must have ate a hundred-weight.

Mornings getting up in the cold and hovering over the hot water in the washbasin, half-asleep. Taking in the heat with one's bare hands in the soapy water, unwilling to shift. My mother roaring in time-checks as minutes ticked by. The BBC was on the radio, with Terry Wogan purring out some whimsical nonsense that invariably tickled our fancies. How great it was if, looking out at the frost along the trackway to the middle gate and down to the school, you could develop a sore throat or cough that meant you could stay at home that day and listen in to the daily diet of regular shows and pop music from across the water.

We had a transistor radio that used to abruptly find its way onto the floor from time to time, with the result that its battery compartment would end up broken and have to be rigged up to an alternative battery supply. My father commandeered some large 6V lamp batteries from work -- the kind used to power roadworks warning lights at night -- and our tranny worked away for weeks at a time on batteries bigger than itself. When it finally went to the great cupboard in the sky, someone found an old valve radio and set it up on a shelf.

Switching on was fairly simple. Just turn the knob and step back and wait while the valves heated up and the music became gradually louder. The only health warning was that one of the bacalite control knobs had fallen off, leaving a metal spike sticking out. It was advisable, we were told, not to touch it. Electricity, and all, don'tcha know.

Anyhow, boys being boys, and affectionate to Mammy up until a certain age, I was holding her by the hand one afternoon when her knuckle strayed to the right as she was adjusting the volume on the radio and the two of us took a jolt that stood our hair on end...

There's nothing better at weaning off Mammy than 240 unexpected Volts of Alternating Current up the right arm. Boys of all ages take note.

Maybe that explains what happened to me. Things were different in all kinds of ways after that. Heh.


Anonymous said...

Love it !

Anonymous said...

Love it !