WEEKEND WEB: A thing of the past?

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

How things change is so evident nowadays and not for the better all the time.

‘Where has it all gone indeed?’ I thought when I overheard somebody say that recently or to be precise what they really said was: ‘weirs it all gorn den?’ but I think you get the general idea.

The lady in question was discussing the merits to her friend in a well known supermarket about a tub (as they are called these days) of assorted chocolates, toffees and general teeth-loosening suckables that are part of the build up to the Christmas ritual as she waved them up and down and generally tried to fathom the unfathomable, before saying: “They used to be bigger than this not so long ago – didn’t they?– but the price is the same and the size of the tin (tub) has shrunk a bit, innit?”

She may well have a point, no she has a real point but as with a lot of things these days they are changing as time goes on but its amazing how things tend to creep up and try to catch us unawares.

As a slight aside to the above, some years ago my gran, whom was related to my mum by a sort of family arrangement, was given a box of chocolates that were of Bulgarian manufacture and I do mean manufacture as they were what could be termed as being of ‘robust construction’ if the following incident is of help.

I had popped in one evening to see her as she unveiled a box of choccies that somebody had given her.

It was a breed I had never heard of and neither had she, but with the ingrown family tradition of being test pilots in assorted matters, quests into items ranging from sink plungers to crutch-less wellington boots, she was prepared to try them out – from a quality control viewpoint you understand – and she offered me one, but trying to decode the supposed ‘menu’ as in the inlay card as to which one was the one with the nut in it, I gave up and left her to it.

A few days later I went to take something round to her and I saw her sucking away on something and I inquired as to how the said choccies were going to which she said she was still on the first one as they – quote – “ich tec a fur bit of sucking deese Bulbearing chuckies’ (decoded: “It takes a fair amount of time sucking these Bulgarian chocolates”).

We later found out that somebody on the local market was selling them off cheap – what a surprise – using the by-line of ‘Specially imported connoisseur chocolates for the discerning palate’ although a better description might have been ‘A right pile of whatever by the pallet load’ if the then- Trade Descriptions Act was applied.

For nature lovers everywhere who might be concerned about the above revelation, it took the best part of five weeks for her to suck them to oblivion, working on a double day shift basis.

Strangely things get smaller these days but the prices are still high.

Yonks ago the basic mobile phone was something that fitted in your hand and was realistically priced, then it went through a serious makeover and can now be a communications centre the size of a paving slab or fridge door and hellishly priced in that you could buy a reasonable second hand car and drive it home for less money in comparison.

Another era we went through, us of a certain ongoing age I respectfully wish to point out, was the then trendy ‘black watch’ phase where the word digital was just starting to bare fruit as rather than just stare at that thing on your wrist that you wound up to know the time, it was turning into an assault course.

You had to press a button on what looked like a small black or even dark coloured thing on a strap bound to your wrist, then small digits lit up that gave you the hours and minutes, then two jabs of the said button gave the seconds before then following on with three jabs that gave the date and was handy should you have been caught up in a landslide for a few days, trapped in a derelict mine shaft or in the audience at a Ken Dodd show.

Adverts on the television then were a mere few trifling minutes spread about a bit within a programme as opposed to nowadays where the adverts are the programme.

There was a different quality of life years ago as instead of swiping fingers over small or large screens or pressing buttons to communicate, people would just walk across the room and ask if they wanted another cup of tea or coffee as they were making one.

I remember mum, of the people for the people, saying that her friend Enid’s husband Frank had lost his job and was cutting back from smoking the cigarette brand he normally did, so instead of smoking cigarettes he then smoked something called Woodbines instead.

Although the coughing was louder than when he smoked his usual cigarettes, his pigeons in their loft kept their distance when he was near them.

Perhaps hard to believe that deodorants were thin on the ground many years ago as I recall because you didn’t see them as much as you do now where a whole line of shelves is devoted to the ‘smellies’ ranges of spray, roller or poured through a colander by a careful hand while you stand in the shower tray/bath/ pond liner as many ‘made do’ with the following being an example.

Now for another in our ever popular social history moments.

Many years ago, there was a device called a ‘Flit’ gun that was used to squirt insecticide to kill assorted insects and mosquitoes plus their similar sized bothersome close relations off.

It looked basically like a large bicycle pump with a small container or tank at the business end that you filled with your preferred ‘Kill ’em dead, Fred’ fluid, aimed the nozzle of the said pump at the pesky little blighters as you pumped merrily away to hopefully, depending on your aim, kill the said insects off.

This simple idea was not lost on a family in our area who took this ‘pump, squirt and kill’ concept to the next level.

I won’t mention their name as I believe some of them still roam the earth in one form or another, but it was their mother’s idea that if you filled said ‘Flit’ gun with, say, a weak solution of disinfectant and then stood somebody in front of it and as they twiddled around, or twirled if late out the bath, you then pumped and squirted like mad to get a good overall coverage on whoever was standing in the firing line.

It was worked out that a single squirting of disinfectant for ‘going out’ and a change over to a weak solution of after shave if they were expecting ‘company’ or relatives to call on them.

One bottle of ‘Zal’ disinfectant lasted quite a few weeks if used carefully and a bottle of ‘Old Spice’ aftershave watered down not quite so long, however I would advise you not to try this now at home, or anywhere else, for safety and other common sense reasons.