Monday, January 21, 2008

Things I don't see any more...

I'm not feeling myself today. Which is just as well says you, you'd hardly like to look at a thing like that. Instead, I'm actually feeling nostalgic for no particular reason and have been thinking about stuff I used to see about the place quite a bit and now don't see so much any more. I have a bit of a yearning for the old times, a touch of a hankering, you know, for stuff like doggy poo and women with beards.

Men combing their hair: My Dad and others of his generation (approx. Jurassic) used to comb his hair incessantly. He, therefore, always carried a sober black comb in his arse pocket so he could slide it out and languidly coiff himself back to a state of debonair elegance (or so he thought), whenever a mirror presented and he realised he was a bit shy of his usual slick sheen. (Just for fun, try reading that really quickly with a mouthful of jelly).
Like, he'd hop into the car, take a glance in the rear view and suddenly produce the comb to lick that drooping fringe back into place. Or if he happened to break the habit of a lifetime and go into a changing room in a clothes shop, (as opposed to sitting around outside one waiting for my mother), he'd always emerge with the hair perfectly set after encountering the mirror inside.
I've just realised he doesn't do it any more. He looks a dreadful fright.

People using proper hankies: I've always found the use of nice linen hankies something of a strange juxtaposition. On the one hand you've got these nice, folded, clothy/lacy things and then you go and do a humongous, trumpeting green honk right into the middle of it. The logic behind fancy hankies, when you think about it, is as misplaced as cutting up your best table cloths and using them as toilet roll.
Some fancy dandies even used to embroider their initials on them as well. So if they dropped their hankie, anyone who picked it up would know who owned it and could return their snots to them quick-smart.
Speaking of dropping hankies, what do women do now to give a handsome suitor a token of their affections? It used to be a perfumed hankie, (presumably stained only by the plaintive, mewling tears of her heartrending love, and not a stupendous blast of anything nasal), but what do they give now? A lock of hair? Knickers? A kidney?
I assume everyone just uses tissues now, or some bog roll. Which reminds me, it's quite some time since I saw an archetypal snot-nosed kid as well. Sigh, the memories. Didn't we all know a child at school that was permanently scarred with two silvery green streams under his nose that never seemed to go away? And is still probably called Snotser to this day?

Women with beards: I used to know a whole gaggle of bearded ladies and they weren't considered in the least bit unusual at all. I think they'd been showcased at just enough circuses and festival sideshows to steadily erase their novelty value, and after a time people just thought of them as normal. For instance, there was a woman used to work occasionally in the post office at home with a fair bit of a sprouting on her and although she was no Brian Blessed or anything we all still called her George Best. It was a bit of a dare to go in, buy a few stamps and then say "Thanks, you're the best," before bolting out the door, hand clapped to mouth in a fit of hysterics. I think sprouting a bit of a (nanny) goatee was considered a sort of late-onset puberty for female pensioners and nobody really batted an eye. Irish women are far too sophisticated to allow this sort of thing now though. Well, apart from John Waters.

Women wearing headscarves: Back in the 70s and 80s, Irish women everywhere used to love a good headscarf, for all kinds of weathers. Preferably a paisley one paired with a nice long trench coat of dull colouring suitable for the era. Then these old biddies could caper about from shop to shop in the rain, with their heads down and always, always, a hand pressed in front of their groin even though the coat was buttoned up. I never could understand that.
My Ma used to wear a headscarf but doesn't any more. Between the ould fella not keeping his hair in check and herself not making the effort any more, they're downright filthy crusties the pair of them.

White dog's poo: What's the deal here? I remember as a kid hanging about the village with the lads, and practically everywhere you went, you'd encounter a white dog turd up an alley or somewhere. And sometimes, a black and white one, together. Like the mystical ying and yang of dog shite. Was it a special diet dogs were on back in 80s Ireland I wonder, or were they just regular doggy poos that had been bleached by the sun? Maybe people just clean up after their dogs nowadays.
And I know it's an odd bit of nostalgia and you won't exactly hear old men leaning across gates bemoaning the loss of the white poo, sure it's all that modern brown stuff now, but I thought I'd throw it out there for debate like. And anyway, you don't see old men leaning across gates bemoaning things any more.

Cars with different coloured panels: There was a car round our way when I was a nipper and it had so many replacement panels on it we couldn't actually tell what colour it had been originally. It was a local mystery for years, still unsolved. The car itself was a really loud, rusting old splutter-farty VW Beetle driven by a skeletal 400-year-old man with no teeth and it had one green door, one red one, a brown bonnet and a mustard yellow front wing. And no door handles. And I think the boot-lid was brown. We called it the smartie box, because, er, it looked like a smartie box. Ireland is too affluent for people to drive cars like this any more but you used always see multi-coloured vehicles bombing about because whenever anyone had a minor accident, it'd be too penal to claim on the insurance and when they'd go to the scrap yard for a cheap replacement, they'd have to take whatever colour they had in. Hilarious.

Fianna Fáil church gate collections: I'm open to correction on this one seeing as I haven't been to Mass since Mammy McDanger's maternal right to drag me along to places I hated going to was revoked circa 1996, but even prior to that particular watershed, I hadn't seen a church gate collection for quite some time. Of course, as in the ancient joke about someone calling to the door collecting for the old folks home and the homeowner donates his grandmother, it would have been funny to actually present them with the church gates and tell them to fuck off.
Come to think of it I recall something about these being banned a few years ago and now you have to get a Garda permit. I just can't be arsed doing the googley thing but Fianna Fáil have more creative ways of getting their money anyway.

Old people boasting about not washing their hair: "Oh God yes, years ago people had no shampoo and never could wash their hair. Old Maggie McClafferty over in Bognamucky there, washed her hair just once a year with a raw egg, some Jeyes fluid and a bucket of butter milk. And she had a head of hair on her was the envy of all around, snow white it was and fluffy and tufty like a duck's arse. People nowadays have themselves ruined washing their hair with all that shit."

11 moos and woofs:

Grandad said...

I always carry a comb around in my back pocket. I keep it there with the mouse-trap. Though I mostly use it on the beard.

I agree about the hair washing too. More than once a year washes all the natural oils out. At Christmas I give it a good dose of slurry-leech, which acts as a great fertiliser.

Herself asked me not to mention her beard.

I can't answer about white dog poo, though I remember it well. It was always very dry.

Terence McDanger said...

You have mice in your beard? Mad. Do you stow much stuff away in your beard generally, or just pets?

Paul Heron said...

Ah good old nostalgia, there's nothing quite like it to kick start a mid life crisis ;-)
Can't wait to see your posts over the next few months, lots of stories about fresh young nubile swedish chicks :-)

Terence McDanger said...

As soon as I can make enough stuff up about my exploits with nubile Swedes, as in the ladies and not the turnips, I'll certainly dash off a few posts no worries...

Susan said...

Ah, such a good one! I've gone all misty-eyed with the Remember Whens.

You can still donate to Fianna Fail and any old whoever, in Glangevlin after Mass. But then, time forgot everyone 'round the Mossy Bottom bog long ago, eh?

One of our neighbours has a tractor I love: it's blue when it goes to Dowra, then yellow coming home again. Took me months to catch on to that, after moving here.

*sigh* said...

Kath Lockett said...

Sadly we here in Oz are still hosting quite a few bearded ladies - especially in my last job, admin-arse-wallah for the Gender Studies School at the university. I've noticed too that lots of my Mum's mates (late sixties)have whiskers that Worzel Gummidge would envy. It must be the bad eyesight coupled with the new-found ability to strain one's soup before eating it.

Cars with different coloured panels are de-rigeur here too. It was reported a while back that Australia has the oldest cars on the road out of the 'industrialised nations' and South Oz, where I'm from, have the oldest. You just aint a local if you don't have at least one grey door that was part-way through a panel beating eight years ago and if your plastic bumper bar's still on, you're a dead cert with the ladies.

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