Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s interesting fish names are: the Australian Prowfish, the Cobbler, the Glowlight Danio, the Cutthroat Eel, the Mola Mola, the Peacock Flounder, and the Zebra Turkeyfish. Which one of these would you not be embarrassed to be seen walking in the park with after church on Sunday?
It’s slim volume, bound in dark red linen with a yellowing cream-coloured spine; externally it’s not much to look at, but inside it is packed with ideas for fascinating gadgets, clever solutions to workshop problems, and sensible labour-saving hints for the home and garden. Yes, this is The 1954 Gadgets Annual, a compilation of the best items from the year’s editions of Gadgets Magazine. It is one from my collection of old tatty junk shop books. Here’s a photograph of part of the title page.
The 1950s – a time when people repaired broken items instead of cheerfully throwing them away into landfill as we do today; when people had learned practical skills and regularly used them in and around the home. This book was a boon to the householder of that period.
Here are a few items from these pages chosen at random: More Shelf Space in Your Car; A Useful Modification for a Wheel Brace; Illuminated House Numbers; Aspirin and Paint Brushes; Boring Holes in Corks, etc. But today, let’s have a look at this very nice item on page 80:
‘Do we happen to have any almonds in the house?’
‘Yes, dear… or perhaps a walnut or two?’
‘Well, I don’t know… What’s that, your are messing with on the dining room table? Didn’t it occur to you to put an old newspaper down first to protect the varnish?’
‘It’s an apple dear. It’s a large Cox’s.’
‘So I see… Look, here’s a copy of last week’s Radio Times, slip it under… You seem to be making a right mess of that apple, are you going to eat all those pieces?’
‘Er, eventually Madge… I’ll need a bit of suitable nut though – apparently it has to be an oily one.’
‘Yes, dear, the oilier the better I think.’
‘Is this something from that silly magazine of your Albert?’
‘Actually yes, it is – but it’s not a silly magazine dearest – it is a very intelligent and erudite journal!’
‘You may scoff Madge, but…’
‘I will amaze our friends!’
‘Oh? I think you already do Albert!…’
‘When they come round to dinner, or at Christmas or something, especially the kids, they’ll love it! They’ll roll about laughing!…
‘Look Albert, here’s a packet of almonds from the kitchen, how many do you need?’
‘Oh, just the one, there, look, that one will do nicely! The wick-shaped one!’
‘The wick-shaped one?’
‘Could you get me a box of matches from the kitchen, please…’
‘Yes, er, alright… Albert…’
‘Will I be amazed?’
‘Oh, most definitely!…’