Dulltown, UK: Today’s unusual china teapot is the one shaped like the continent of Australia – the boiling water is introduced via the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the tea poured out from Cairns, but this design is, in my opinion, not likely to be a very good pourer.
It’s a pretty boring looking volume, but perhaps long ago it used to have a glossy dust jacket printed in bright encouraging colours. As it is, it just sports a dull reddish-brown linen-like cloth, with a rather unpleasant cream spine that might be trying, in desperation, to look like some kind of leather.
Yes, it’s my copy of The 1954 Gadgets Annual, a compilation of the best items from the previous year’s popular Gadgets Magazine.
Ah, Britain in the 1950s, not that long after the austerity of WWII – make-do and mend, when people repaired things rather than throwing them out as we do today; they pottered about in their little workshops and gardens sheds happily making useful things for the home and garden.
Here are the titles of a few randomly chosen projects from these fusty pages: How to Save on Shelf Paper; Magnet Becomes a Dumb Assistant; A compact String Cutter; Novel Weatherproof Magic Lanterns; The Lazy Man’s Garden Dibber; A light-Proof Screen for Camera and Experimental Work; Boring Holes in Corks, etc.
Hm… Let’s have a look at this on page 114:
‘Eh?… Yes dear what is it?’
‘You were mumbling and grunting under your breath.’
‘Mumbling? I don’t think so Madge.’
‘Yes you were, I definitely heard you say the word “plywood”… Are you reading that silly magazine of yours?’
‘It’s not silly Madge, it’s full of very good ideas and wheezes.’
‘I was thinking about something nice for Jimmy and Violet’s wedding present.’
‘Oh yes, what were you thinking Albert – something made of plywood?’
‘Well, as a matter of fact dear, I was, you see…’
‘How about a pair of interesting and attractive wall plaques? Eye-catching wall plaques are very fashionable at the moment Madge.’
‘Who says?… Show me a picture of the thing.’
‘Here, look, it would be pretty simple to make, we have some plywood in the shed, and I think there’s some of that lino left from when we did the back bedroom, and…’
‘Yes, no… As a wedding present?… Is that shape supposed to be a bird?’
‘Possibly, but I think it might be “abstract” dear… And as for the brass or copper decorative feature I could use some of that…’
‘They’d look very good in the alcoves each side of a fireplace dear.’
‘No Albert, it’s a horrible thing, made from horrible materials…’
‘They could be painted in nice cheerful colours… I could easily have them done in time for the wedding.’
‘Don’t you dare! We’ll get them some crockery.’
‘Crockery… oh, that’s a good idea!… Actually, I wasn’t really a hundred percent sure about the aesthetics of plywood and lino together in one piece of work, even if it was “abstract”.’
‘Good, that’s that settled then…’