Whistling For You


Ireland welcomes the electric kettle.

It shaved literally seconds off previous tea making times.

Life would go rapidly downhill from this point on.


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11 thoughts on “Whistling For You

  1. Cian

    It shaved literally seconds off previous tea making times.
    Up until then you needed an open fire/range to boil water.. which wouldn’t necessarily have been lit (or hot enough to boil water).

    It’s also crazy that a house might only have had one or two sockets in total!

    1. Slightly Bemused

      My Dad still has one of these (maybe not an ESB Showroom one, but from the same era) in his shed. A beautiful copper thing with a wooden handle. I still remember using it as a kid before they got a newer one.
      With the handle over the lid, I forget how many times I burned my fingers as I poured. When we got the first “upright” kettle, I and my fingers rejoiced.

      With regard to the sockets, my first summer job was with an elderly landscape gardener who lived in an old, traditional, thatched cottage that was still wired from the original ‘Electrification’. It had only 2 sockets, both in the same room one either side, and halfway up the wall above the dado rail. Still the old 3-pin round sockets, and never used.

      Only electricity he used was the light in the central room (which was the kitchen and ‘living room). One side room was his bedroom, one had not been entered in years, by the look. His heat, even in summer, was from a turf fed round stove, which took forever to get the kettle going.

      I started bringing my own boiling water in a flask from home, when I realised he drew his water in a bucket from the little stream that flowed past the front of the property. It even had a little step, well worn with years of use – likely an original feature.

      The… other facility was his compost heap. Part of my job was turning it every day. Not very pleasant, but likely very green.

      Despite this, I remember that summer with fondness. He taught me to drive (an old Vauxhall Avenger estate, with weird rotating switches by the wheel for lights and wiper – single speed). I had to till between the rows of plants and trees in his nursery with a rotovator, and finally put on some upper arm strength.

      With the money I earned, I bought my brother’s old, mono radio-cassette player and finally got to listen to the station I wanted. Made many mix tapes over that summer, all of which I still have. When pressing record, it did a weird ‘blat’ before recording.

      And that year, over that summer, my voice broke. Not being around pretty much anyone, this meant I was saved the embarrassment of many of my classmates whose broke during the following school year.

      1. Mary (Never) Wong

        Are you saying that he did his number two in the compost heap there Slightly?
        I’m sure that’s against regulation. Sorry if I misunderstood you.

        1. Slightly Bemused

          Sadly, that is exactly what I am saying. There was nothing about that place that was regulation, but it was more than a few years ago. And I guess it was better doing it in the compost than in a heap in the back field.
          Believe me, I learned to wash my hand very thoroughly that summer!

          Just checked Google Maps, and it seems the house is gone, there are new neighbours, but the plot I tilled so diligently seems to be still there.

          1. Mary (Never) Wong

            When you mowed Pat Murphy’s Meadow in the sunny long ago?

            The thing is Slightly it’s definitely not recommended to do that.
            Any organic gardening book you read etc.
            In terms of public health etc. Same with dog and cat excrement etc.

            Yet I was reading a blog the other day about this and the recommendations were that cat and dog is perfectly fine to use for flowers and even with some vegetables. I think the actual issue is that the composting process must fully take place in order to complete the bacteria killing stage, but with other foodstuffs there is less harmful bacteria on them, so if they are not fully rotted you can still just dig them in with little harm. Well that and the flies and smell potentially I guess.
            It obviously did this guy no harm at all and here he had Santa’s little helper to ensure the full cycle was completed before being re-used. Really interesting, thanks.

          2. Slightly Bemused

            Heh! We sowed Pat Murphy’s meadows :-)

            I know better now, but what was I, a mere strip of a lad, to say or do? Thankfully, I never needed to use those facilities. Even the thought of it made my personal control wonderful until I got home.

            Over the course of that summer I never needed to use any of the compost heap. I added the weeds and mulch when I turned it over last thing before heading home. There was this tarp I had to pull back, then replace afterwards. I guess he knew his stuff and was waiting for it all to break down, and the tarp stopped it getting wet from rain, and kept the heat in somewhat.

            How did we get here from a kettle? :-)

  2. ciarán cahill

    With a kettle, at least you can boil water! Make it safe etc. But, I suppose that doesn’t matter much… oh, is that a covid-wind that I hear?

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