Dulltown, UK: Today’s Raymond Chandler quotation is from the novel The High Window (1943):
‘Your powers of observation startle me’ I said.
He looked surprised. He almost forgot to fingernail the ash of his cigarette. But not quite. He was careful to not get any of it into the ashtray, however.
‘About my mother,’ he said patiently.
‘A grand old warhorse,’ I said. ‘A heart of gold and the gold buried good and deep.’
I am never happier than when I have a little practical task to do – in my little workshop, with the radio on, cup of tea on the bench, sawing a bit of wood, smearing a blob of glue with a forefinger, tapping in a couple of panel pins, a quick rub with a piece of sandpaper and…
I suppose that’s why I like that old junk shop book of mine The 1954 Gadget Annual – not that I have ever made anything from it though. The cover is pretty drab affair, but here is a photograph of the title page. I wonder what W. N. Shaw looked like – I picture a stooped, but wiry, unsmiling short chap in shabby tweeds and waistcoat, with round glasses, thinning hair, and with a well chewed tobacco pipe in his mouth…
As you see this is a yearly compilation of the best items from the popular Gadgets Magazine. The early 1950s in Britain was a time when money was short and people mended things when they broke or wore out, rather than throwing them out and buying new ones as we do today. They were quite practical back then and would also make useful items for the home, garden and workshop.
Here are a few randomly selected items from these yellowing pages:
How to Make Fireproof Paper, A Transparent Wallet, A Non-Spill Ashtray – Easily Emptied, Home-Made Electrical Plugs, A Popular De-Rusting Process, A De-Luxe Set of Matchbox Drawers… etc.
‘Albert! Where are you?’
‘Where is “here”? You silly man!…’
‘I’m in the garden shed dearest.’
‘Albert, I just heard a really terrible noise.’
‘A noise dear?’
‘Yes, like… like, an elephant, in a rage… Mrs Pemby two doors up was hanging out of her upstairs window wondering what it was – she was looking this way Albert!…’
‘Elephant in a rage dear?’
‘Ah, that would be me.’
‘You? Did you hurt yourself?’
‘No Madge, I’ve just finished making a very clever gadget, a musical instrument… I was testing it.’
‘Is this from that stupid magazine of yours?’
‘It’s not a stupid magazine Madge, it is very informative. Just listen to how loud this thing is…’
‘Albert! Don’t you dare!…’
‘I was going to post it off to Leonard’s young lad Billy tomorrow morning.’
‘Good! Do that! No more testing though.’
‘If you say so, dear…’