By Roy Edmonds
We were watching a young barman laying a fire at our local the other day. He was likeable and willing but kept putting wood on top of coal – then wondering why it went out.
“I told him,” muttered a veteran regular, “but he doesn’t listen.”
In the end someone demonstrated how it should be done – which made us all appreciate the resulting glow even more.
“Remember how grim it was,” someone asked, “first person up having to light a fire, just to get the back boiler going? No wonder we only had one bath a week.”
Life is easier today but we forget old skills that might be needed again. Not just handwriting, adding up and mending things; but also making food, or surviving outdoors.
And it’s not only computer chips and frozen chips that have changed us.
A recent history of domestic life since the last world war concluded the biggest cause of social change in the home was central heating.
The combi boiler has revolutionised our lives. Not only airing cupboards are a thing of the past; tables are now used for many tasks but rarely eating – which is done in bed or on our laps. The former dining area might be a part-time guest room, gym, games centre or store.
Kitchens are still cooked in, but by different people at different times.
Rooms are more interchangeable: painted in functional cream with dark furniture but few soft furnishings – now seen as unhygienic clutter.
I fear it’s all heading towards those dull, efficient work and domestic places seen in Scandinavian detective films; where both sexes also appear to wear the same clothes, and seem to have undergone emotional bypasses.
Still, on the brighter side, energy is now so expensive we may soon have to go back to old ways.
That lad will be grateful for his fire-lighting lesson.
* For more from Roy or to discover his books, visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.com.