A need for mild detergent

Thursday December 1, 2005

It was my catch-up day today. Catching up with shopping. Catching up with cleaning, and catching up with Graham, too.

The highlight of the morning, standing out from house cleaning chores, was the arrival of a “vintage” lamp on which Graham had set his heart when he found it on eBay before setting off for his Somerset visit. It’s a blast from the past, mid-1960s or very early 1970s at the latest, when these crushed coloured glass in resin things were popular. I didn’t much like them back then and I can’t say I’m so very keen now. I suspect I’ll come to love it to pieces for Graham’s sake, though. He’s been looking for a good example for years.

I opened the parcel to check that it hadn’t been damaged in transit, found it very well wrapped and perfectly fine except for a slight tilt to the wire framed shade. A little nudge here and a careful pull there and it’ll be perfectly straight again but that’s a job for Graham. I know of no better way of wrecking a shade than submitting it to my ministrations.

“It’s awfully orange,” I said when we spoke during Graham’s train ride from Taunton to Boston.

“How do you mean, orange?”

“Well, orange. You know. The colour. And the feel.”

“Does that mean you don’t like it?”

“No, of course it doesn’t. Simply that it’s… well, orange. You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Actually, there’s one thing about it I really do not like. It smells and it’s very dirty, with that distinct don’t-care oiliness that comes from grubby, sticky hands and fingers. Years and years of them. I think it came from a house-clearance sale via at least one auction sale and it’s a long time since it was familiar with good housekeeping, leave alone any kind of association with a gentle detergent. That’s easy enough to put right, though, and the smell, if it’s not of the dispersible kind, will disappear under a gentle spray of Fabreeze.

It’s not an obsession, but I do like things to be clean. I’ve trained myself to it in recent years, having a horror of the way some older citizens sink into a smelly, grubby state as they age, and being determined to avoid falling into the same trap. Seems to me, the closer you get to an encounter with godliness, the more careful your attention should be to cleanliness. On the day when, finally, you fall under the cosmic bus, you don’t want to have missed changing your underwear or skimped on your shower and shave.

Anyway, the housework got done and then I sat down to a light lunch, and took a short nap before setting off to the station to pick up Graham when he arrived in the late afternoon.

“It’s beautiful,” he said when he inspected the lamp. “Don’t see what you mean by orange, though.”

“Might be a 60s thing, hanging like a windmill in my mind,” I said. “There was an awful lot of orange around back then.”

“How do you mean, windmill?”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. You had to be there. More wine?”

And so, the family was back together under one roof. Dolly the Mega-Cat is pleased. I’m pleased. Graham’s pleased. All’s well.

Except I can’t get memories of wine and oranges and the 1960s out of my head. I recall the period with a mix of strong affection and slight aversion. At least I know now what the unpleasant smell is that came with the lamp. Stale patchouli, that’s what it is. Yuck. That’s a memory I’d rather leave in the past. I shall do my best to eradicate it with vim, vigour, and a mild detergent. Graham will clean the lamp.


Old lamp for new



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