I have a memory of quicksilver, inclined to forget the most familiar of names but recall the most obtuse and immaterial of facts with almost perfect clarity. Today I was blessed with two such epiphany’s, one that was able to amuse me throughout a three-mile hike, the other a wholly miraculous piece of almost anamnesis, but from my present incarnations long distant past rather than an actual previous existence.
Whenever I am inclined to walk any sort of distance I am inclined to provide a goodly supply of what a dear friend recently labelled Grandad candy in my vest pocket. This morning having prepared myself adequately, or so I imagined for my happy trudge into town, I found myself reaching into my righthand bottom vest pocket for a ‘Werther’s’ and coming up totally short. Only being a few yards from my door I immediately spun on my heel and quickly corrected this wholly unacceptable circumstance. Retracing my path along the drive way I happened upon a goodly acquaintance, a fellow reprobate refugee from mine own dear isle as fond of a jolly chinwag as myself. He had of course noticed my boomeranging in and out of the cottage and so with a chuckle I offered up a piece of my gold wrapped treasure.
“A gentleman should never venture out without suitable supply! “
Came his quick as you like reply.
My chum was of course quite correct, was a time no gentleman would ever go out fully dressed without a suitable prophylactic carefully stashed in his wallet. Indeed so universal was this habit that not a gentleman’s bill fold existed that did not have the all too identifiable outline of a condom packet impressed in the leather of the inner change pocket. One memory thus recalled can so easily open the door to a whole heap of ancillary revelations, and thus did my now reflective stroll continue.
My first acquaintance with the realities of birth control came about at the tender age of twelve, on a visit to the village barbers with my dear departed father. As was always the case I had but the slightest trim round the ears, father however invariably liked to partake in a ‘hot towel and shave’ even though he was always meticulously clean shaven. On this particular day, the barber was unusually cordial, the very epitome of good humor, chatting quite freely to my father forgetting perhaps I was even still in the shop. As with all the other village businesses the barber submitted his account monthly, and presumably was paid quite adequality for his services so avoiding the need for the grubby finding of loose change before leaving.
“Anything for the weekend, Sir?”
The barbers request was something new to me and utterly mysterious, and presumably by my father’s rather piercing look something not only not meant for my ears, but the precursor to a chat father was really not inclined to have with me that sunny afternoon.
The answer to my puzzlement was simple, the sale of prophylactics was almost entirely the province of the barber surgeon, indeed a goodly portion of their income. The phrase I had by chance encountered was the code utilized to enquire inscrutably the customers state of rubber preparedness.
The following walk up the driveway was memorable for several excellent reasons, firstly because this was my first man to man chat with father, secondly because it was the only instance I ever recall him seeming the slightest put out or embarrassed, and thirdly because for all I understood he might as well have explained in Swahili.
As an interesting and somewhat telling aside the first time I ever recall seeing a best used before date was on a condom wrapper.
The other memorable happenstance of today was my recollection and use of the phrase, ‘Saint Vitus Dance’, not only in casual conversation but in correct context. I am quite happy to admit that my language, grammar, and vocabulary are dated, but equally I am hopeful they are explicitly related to my nationality, education, and upbringing.
I have no problem calling you thee or thou, calling a shovel a spade, Fall Autumn, or WorcesterSHIRE sauce Worcester(shire) sauce.