The squeal-inducing excitement of spending my pocket money!

Pocket money? My first memories of it are five shillings a week, later increased to ten shillings a week (due to my good behaviour and fewer buildings in the neighbourhood being subject to arson). Ten shillings that then, quite often, became ten shillings from Dad and ten shillings from Mum, both left on the mantlepiece for me to find.

A matchbox car was two shillings. There were eight blackjacks or fruit-salad chews to the penny. Large fizzer blocks were a penny each. Gawds alone know what the going rate was for fish, which always seems to be the yardstick of adult choice.

These days I get to spend my pocket money on more prosaic items.

If you ask me, and you really should, any “toilet fresh[en]-up kit” should really be just two gallons of Napalm and a long-handled brush.
You can tell that this beastie hails from the land of Uncle Sam by the poor grammar evident on the packaging! Freshen-up kit, if you please. Verbs is awesome [sic], when formed and used correctly, and I wish that every country respected them.

It seems to be impossible to buy just the you-know-what-goes-in-this tank on its own, it must come as a kit with an (unwanted, unnecessary) new toilet seat and two bottles of something that will doubtless be non-biodegradable and thus unusable on a canal boat. No idea why the advertising shows two cassettes, since there’s only one outrageously-priced one in the box – and nor have I any idea how this illustration, thus, passed under the attentions of the Advertising Standards Tribunal.

I assume that it is a “tribunal” these days, since we are all being so post-sanity un-de-re-contructed and generally, in terms of human society, “the last days of the Roman Empire” about everything.

This will, when it arrives, be marked up as “Thunderbird 4”. Thunderbirds 1, 2 & 3 will doubtless take it under their wing and instruct it in its duties.

Yesterday I did a load of washing. The silly wire-frame arrangement that I have previously attempted to use as a clothes airer collapsed under its own weight no fewer than three times. The silly wire-frame arrangement is now in the marina’s rubbish skip, and from there it will doubtless go to languish in some land-fill for a couple of thousand years.

I’ve spent some pocket money on this lovely old-fashioned thing.

When not drying clothes I shall be able to use this as a framework and build a nice, comforting den to play in.

My mother used to have one of these. When not used for drying clothes it  was a damned good framework for a den made by draping blankets over it.

Wood, mortise & tenon joints, canvas web hinges. 1.1 metres tall, 0.6 metres per panel, three panels. Simple, solid, old-fashioned and it will fold into the corner of a wardrobe on the Cardinal when not in use. This, at least, can be relied upon to stand upon its own six feet and not collapse at every opportunity.

I shall not resist the urge to stain and varnish it to match the rest of the Cardinal’s woodwork.

Such larks, eh, Pip?

Oh for the days when I could nip along to the local shops and blow everything on two matchbox cars and a sack of sweets!

Actually, it’s not all practicality and domesticity. I found these on the charity book-swap shelves of the chandlery the other day. Most splendid, most splendid indeed. Three good-condition hardback Sir Arthurs. I think I may get some sweets and read them one after the other, in my den…


And there you have it, folks, I’ve taken you from alimentary to elementary in one blog post.

Do you appreciate it? Do you ‘eck as like.


Ian H.


    1. There are some lovely working boats that zoom up and down the canals carrying fuel and gas and wotnots – and they will also empty the gazunder, for a fee… Everything that comes onto the boat has to be equally manually taken off the boat. Tis fun!

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    1. My parents used to make money hand over fist. Seriously, I mean they printed and minted it, we had machinery hidden in the basement. 😉


  1. I’m so excited by this! You can still get one of the old Clothes horses – yes that’s what we called them and I did make a den out of my mother’s! The clothes airer of my acquaintance collapses as described when laden too heavily and when assembling or collapsing catches your fingers quite nicely for a blast of “£$%^&*! Ah, nostalgia how I love thee. And on the issue of pocket money, mine was 2/6d and to the chippy of a Friday night for chips, batter bits and a glass of dandelion and burdock! The other half spent on a carrier bag of sweets! As to toilets, I leave that issue to the lad from Bolton! Jolly good show!

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    1. This style of clothes horse was (is, will be!) great for making dens. Well, I call them “dens” but we are talking about the Cold War era, so it was more like “nuclear shelter”. Two blankets over the top with one side made out of the settee would stop any amount of blast or fallout… 😉 Chips from the chippy were so much better when they could still make ’em with e-numbers and serve ’em in newspaper!


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