Feb 18 2012

The Old Metal Bath

Published by at 1:31 pm under News

Isn’t it gas all the same how the ould memory works. A friend of mine sent me this photograph and it sent me poor memory into a tizzy. At first I stood lookin’ at it with a grin on my face and then I started laughing out loud as the memories came flooding into my head. Well I can tell you I had to sit down eventually because I was laughing so much. You see, the Ma’ had one of these years ago and she used to  wash her ‘Smalls’ as she called them in it. They were never hung out on the line to dry you know. She’d pin them to the back of the ould armchair with nappy pins and place them in front of the fire to dry. Not like the oul one next door I can tell yeah, she hung her big bloomers out for all to see. You know the kind, big heavy navy blue ones and salmon pink ones. The Da’ used to look out the kitchen window and laugh at them because they looked like flags on a ship.

We were never washed in  the metal bath because there were too many of us and anyway we were too big. But I remember the Ma’ always gave the baby of the house a wash in it. She’d place it in front of a blazing fire and pour pots of scalding water into it and then top it up with cold water. Do you remember the Ma’ rolling up her cardigan sleeve and sticking her elbow into the water to make sure it wasn’t too hot for the baby? People back then were gas all the same with the different things they knew about and they’d no fancy gadgets or anything. We’d all sit around the kitchen watching the Ma’ washing the baby and we’d be dying to get into the water as well. Do you know what I used to love most, the smell of the talcum powder that the Ma’ would shake all over the baby’s little bum. Now isn’t that strange or what? Then a clean nappy would appear out of thin air and the Ma’ would have one of my sisters put it on the baby. And there’s another thing, didn’t the Ma’ always have one or two nappy pins pinned to her cardigan or smock?

I remember one day in particular when the ould family dog was sitting beside the fire scratching at the fleas that were eating it to bits. The Ma’ took the baby out of the bath and told my two older brothers to throw the dog into the water for a wash. Well bejakers all hell broke loose. The ould dog tried to make a dash for the back door and the two brothers jumped on him. They were like Audie Murphy and Gary Cooper wrestling a steer to the ground for branding. Well the howls and screams out of the poor ould dog as the brothers shouted at the rest of us to help.  We all grabbed onto whatever we could of the dog and dragged him screaming and howling across the kitchen floor. I remember I had him by the tail and I was walking backwards towards the tub of water. The next thing I knew didn’t the dog give a jerk up into the air and I fell back into the bath of water. In the confusion the dog managed to escape and bolted out into the back garden and away it ran. I sat in the tub crying with fright as the coal fire behind me hissed from all the water that had splashed up onto it.

Of course I got the blame for the dog getting away. The brothers were none too pleased either because the Ma’ made them clean up the mess on the kitchen floor. We didn’t see the dog for days afterwards. And strangely enough the dog was never around anymore when the baby was getting it’s bath. These are the things I was laughing at when I looked at this photograph. I wonder does the ould dog remember that incident…

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