Thursday, 27 January 2011

Looking at things we take for granted

I do like to take a long, hot soak when I'm feeling a little out of sorts.

While soaking in the bath, yesterday, I thought how lucky I was to have my own centrally heated bathroom with a constant supply of hot water on tap.

It brought to mind an online conversation I had recently about the things most young people in the West take for granted. The Monty Python 'shoebox  sketch' was referenced as we reminisced about the houses in which we were born and/or grew up.

I was born into a Victorian end-of terrace 'two-up-two-down' in Manchester. We did have a flushing lavatory, but it was in the yard. There was no hot water 'on tap', it was boiled in the kettle or the large 'copper' that was heated by gas.

I don't remember the bathing arrangements but have one memory of being taken to use the 'slipper baths' at  Gorton Baths (a long walk or a bus-ride away). Taking a bath there was rather like using the showers at the swimming pool. We went into a little cubicle which housed the bath tub and locked the door.

Heating in my first home was by open fires. I remember the one in my Granny's house ( just around the corner from us). There was a coal-fired 'range' in the front bay-windowed parlour which had a little oven on the right hand side with a hob for the kettle. I don't know if Granny used the range for cooking. We had a gas cooker in our back room (the living kitchen).

When I was about five, the family moved to a 'new' house on the Garden Suburb estate in Northern Moor on the outskirts of Manchester. By comparison to our old house, it was palatial. It was a pebble-dashed end of terrace with front and back gardens. More importantly, not only was there an indoor lavatory, there was a separate bathroom. Heating was still by open fire in the parlour but this came equipped with a back boiler which heated the water. Taking a bath became less of a luxury and, eventually, a 'taken for granted'.

"And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you."