Keeping Clean

I was cleaning yesterday and, as I rummaged through my cleaning cupboard, looking through my vast array of sprays, wipes and cloths, it occurred to me that this is yet another way in which life has changed immeasurably since the 1950s. I’m calling this post ‘Keeping Clean’ because I’m looking at household products and toiletries.

I have often mused on the fact that everything is branded nowadays. We don’t just have milk, distributed by our local farm or dairy. We have the choice of branded milks – Cravendale, Arla, Dairy Crest. Water doesn’t only come out of taps, we can choose Evian, Volvic, Buxton, etc etc. In my childhood, dusters, dishcloths and floor cloths were unbranded and bought in a local hardware shop. Dusters were always yellow and square, floor and dish cloths were white cotton and sold in a roll to be cut into handy lengths.In our house, floor cloths were always recycled old vests discarded by the family when too small or worn. Everyone wore vests then, they were always white cotton and made ideal cleaning cloths. We now have a bewildering assortment of wipes and cloths to choose from – J-cloths, many brands of sponge and microfibre cloths, and even branded dusters e.g Swiffer!

Cleaning products tell the same story. In the very olden days, people used generic substances like carbolic soap, beeswax and bicarb. In the 1950s there were brands to choose from but far fewer than now. People had brand loyalty too. My Mum preferred Daz washing powder, other households used Omo or Persil. I remember Mansion Polish, too and Dura-Glit for cleaning brass. There was no fabric conditioner so, although I don’t remember thinking this at all, towels must have been hard and scratchy after being dried out on the line.

In the world of toiletries, too, there were fewer brands. We always had Gibbs SR toothpaste and Lux soap, some preferred Imperial Leather, Pears, Colgate or, from the early 60s, Signal. What did the SR in Gibbs SR stand for, by the way? Dry skin was moisturised with Nivea or Ponds. There was no such thing as hair conditioner then and getting a comb or a brush through wet hair after washing was a nightmare, especially long or curly hair.

Leibster Award questions

These are the questions Life Lessons, Scribbles and Musings put to me, and my answers:

If you could meet one famous person, who would it be?
I would like to meet (but would not enjoy meeting) Adolf Hitler just to ask him – Why? What for? Do you feel any regret? Can I explain to you, in everyday terms, why what you did was so very wrong?
If you could time-travel, what time period would you like to visit?
I would like to see what it was like to live in a much earlier civilisation such as the Anglo-Saxon or Viking age in Britain.
What would your ideal day consist of?
A morning walk or run, time spent reading and writing, meeting a friend for a catch-up or a visit to a museum, real or virtual contact with my daughters and grandchildren, food cooked for me and music, live or recorded, in the evening.
What is the simplest thing that makes you smile?
A hug from one of my grandchildren.
How many times have you fallen in love?
Many times because I include the love which comes with the birth of children and grandchildren as well as romantic love.
What would be your dream job?
I wanted to be an archaeologist from a very young age. I took a different career path but it still seems like the perfect job to me and I’d love to give it a try.
Who do you look up to or who inspires you?
My friend Trevor who is one of the most fun, creative, loving, caring, intelligent and positive people I have ever met, and who has overcome more obstacles than anyone else I know.
What is your favorite season and why?
Spring. It’s the ever hopeful season heralding the end of winter and our first glimpses of summer.
What book(s) can you read over and over again?
I rarely re-read books but I have revisited Maus by Art Spiegelman several times. We must never forget the Holocaust and this book tells the story exactly as it was, in all its horror, but through a graphic novel.
Android or iPhone….which goes nicely with PC or Mac?
As long as they all work reliably and do what I want them to do, I don’t mind.
What is your all time favorite food?
My daughter’s Parmigiana which is sublime.

Here are some questions for my nominees.

If you could meet one famous person, dead or alive, who would it be?
What question would you most like to ask
Where in the world would you like to visit for the first time?
What is the simplest thing that makes you smile?
What was the last book you read?
What would be your dream job?
Who do you look up to or who inspires you?
What is your favourite month and why?
What makes you angry?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself.
When and where were you happiest?

New blog post on the 50s and 60s coming later today.