I suppose to know more about what makes me tick, you’d have to meet my parents. Mum was days away from turning 40 when I was born and Dad 41. They have both passed away now but between them they left enough stories to fill 100 blogs like this one. Add my slightly senile grandmother who lived with us and you have a sitcom that could run for 10 years. You”ll hear more about my grandmother, Gargie, as time goes on.. but today, I want to tell you about Mum & Dad.
Mum was second oldest of 9 kids.. a feisty Irish mother and a father who died when they were all young. The 9 kids adored their mother and although she called a spade a spade and was as tough as nails, she would have laid down her life for her children and they paid that devotion back everyday. They were a close family and to this day, my generation and the next are still all close. Dad on the other hand was one of 2 children. His mother and father divorced and put Dad in an orphange and his brother, my uncle, out on a working farm. Both boys were led to believe that their sibling was with my grandmother and held resentments that lasted till they were men in their 60s when many truths came out. They loved each other but it was despite their mother not because of her. I never knew my grandfathers on either side, though Dad’s mother remarried and we all loved her husband Pop. She, however was the coldest woman I can think of. I think Dad fell in love with Mum’s family as much as her and they decided right away to have a big family.
Mum & Dad were the classic depression era parents.. They never threw anything out (including old false teeth but that’s a story for another day). They also had to have every gadget that was invented. I think we were the first kids on the block to have a TV. Now that was probably more to do with the fact that I’m one of 12 kids and they knew a tv would just shut us all up for a while but never the less, we still had one. We progressed quickly to color tv, videos etc. They may have been of an older generation but were keen to keep up with technology even if they struggled to use it. Mum had a microwave which she mastered quicker than me and she could set her video player to record her favorite movies.. Not that she needed to record them as she bought every movie she’d ever seen and most that she hadn’t. Mum was a bit more capable when it came to new things whereas Dad wanted things more for prestige than convenience. This was a man who couldn’t even open a glad wrapped sandwich, so dexterity wasn’t really his thing… And to watch him untangle Christmas lights was the highlight of our festive season every year. He was the biggest tantrum thrower and would yell, scream, swear, throw the lights across the room and altogether have a melt down over them while Mum sat calmly on her chair, slowly untangling them with a slight smirk on her face. They were polar opposites. Mum, the most patient and calm person I have ever known and Dad, the dummy spitter of the century. The perfect foil for each other.
What they had in common was their love of crappy gadgets. They never owned shares but if they did, it would have been in the KTel corporation. I think they may have actually boosted the coffers and profile of KTel more than anyone I know. Now, far be it for me to diss their beloved KTel.. I’m sure some of those products were superb. But in the hands of my parents, they turned to the most useless pieces of plastic that ever graced a home. Who can forget the innovative and totally necessary KTel Record Selector. The perfect place to store all your KTel compilation albums. Hymns of Gold and 25 Great Country Artists Singing Their Original Hits were just two of the many we possessed. Remember the ad?? “Are you fed up with constantly searching for the records you want? Are you tired and frustrated from constantly straightening out your LP’s? “ They must have been although I don’t think they realised they were until they saw the ad. “Now with KTel Record Selector this will never happen again. To choose your favorite music, tilt the first record forward, the others forward automatically. Pick your selection when it appears.” So of course, they would carefully fill the magnificent record selector with their amazing collection of vinyl albums and hey presto, just flick the first one forward and the theory was that it would save you so much time and effort by simply moving the albums for you until you found what you wanted. And as for putting them back in some semblance of order, this amazing gadget AUTOMATICALLY stopped where you’d taken the favorite music from. Wow!! What a timesaver.
To be fair here, I do keep my vinyls and CD’s in alphabetical order, so I understand the need for wanting to put a record back where it came from.. but the magical KTel Record Selector never seemed to quite work as it did on TV. They would load it, just like in the ad, tilt the first record forward, just like in the ad, then it would all fall over.. That wasn’t in the ad. So Mum would patiently pick up the records and carefully reload it all over again while Dad had a dummy spit. Tilt forward again… mmmm working so far… stop to get a record out, nope.. it toppled again. But to give them both credit, they never stopped trying. The records were all damaged from being constantly dropped and reloaded but it took them a long time to give up on the record selector.
You would think that would be the end of their love affair with all things KTel wouldn’t you? Well you’d be wrong! Because the company brought out another AMAZING and necessary invention… The brickmaker.. Now this handy little gadget was going to be the end of messy briquettes. Great news for us as our hot water heater was run on them.. So a-bricking making we go! All you had to do was tear up old newspapers, soak them in water, load them into the brick maker and press the two handles and HEY PRESTO…. a paper brick.. nice and compressed.. let it dry and voila, no more messy briquettes or splinters from wood. We tore up mountains of newspapers because (a) it got rid of the newspapers and (b) we were going to make thousands of bricks as there were so many of us, we’d need them. Next we soaked them, just like in the ad…. then loaded them into the brick maker.. then pressed… and pressed.. and pressed.. mmmmm.. the handles dont want to move.. try again.. press harder.. nope.. still not moving.. so Dad put pressure on with one foot on one handle… trouble was, that made it tip up spilling soggy newspaper all over the floor.. so we loaded it up again.. then he got 2 of us to stand on a handle each… and still nothing.. I think from memory we progressed up to heavier kids each time.. until finally the handles squished down enough to make him happy… Then of course, you had to try to get it out of the contraption.. Not as easy as on the ad either.. But eventually something vaguely resembling a brick (albeit a soggy, inky one) was proudly sitting in the sun to dry.. I think maybe only around 5 were ever made as not only were they too hard to make but they took a decade to dry completely and then burned in a smouldering smokey mess rather than the bright, clear flame they advertised. Their KTel buying days were surely over………
Until…………………. The KTel glass maker. This incredible product would enable you to make beautiful goblets out of drinking bottles. No waste.. no fuss.. simple really.. You just etch around the bottle then light a candle and rotate the bottle over the candle around where you’ve etched it…. then it simply breaks away neatly… a quick sand around the edge and OH MY GOODNESS… a beautiful large tumbler.. if you REALLY got creative you could stick the neck of the bottle onto the bottom of the glass and you have a gorgeous wine glass. mmmmm.. and noone’s going to know that its a beer bottle they’re drinking out of..Of course not! Now my Dad loved a beer so there was a ready supply of these amazing amber tumblers or goblets (depending on the creativity levels on the day) that we could have had.. So Dad opened his first beer, drank it then we set to work.. Okay, now maybe on a thinner bottle, the etching might have worked a lot easier, but on thick bottles (which nearly all bottles are) it just didn’t cut through properly… so by the time we ran the candle round it repeatedly, the bottles were also burned. Dad then started to get impatient when they didn’t snap cleanly as in the ad and started to put a bit of extra pressure on. Yes it finally snapped through with a few rough edges from the pressure… a light sand and hooorayyyyy! we have our first tumbler. Unfortunately we also had our first split lips by trying to drink out of it.
I could prattle on for hours about the brush-o-matic, the BeDazzler, the Bonsai Blade and the plethora of KTel compilation albums but I’m sure by now you are all reaching for the Danoz Direct number to buy a steam mop or an Ahh Bra. My parents have given me so many more stories and I’m sure over time you’ll hear more (even the false teeth story). Till then, happy travels…. Livvy 🙂