Monday, 17 October 2016

Polishing the memories

This brass standard lamp was bought by my parents during their tour in Hong Kong, between 1964 and 1967. It's been used in all of the houses they've lived in ever since. It has been the light under which I read countless books, it was probably part of the scenery as I learned to read.
We girls (there were four of us) would, now and then, be required to clean it. Either as an attempt by my father to make us help and learn the value of chores, or as punishment for some misdemeanour or other. Cleaning it involved a tin of Brasso, a cloth to apply it and another soft cloth to rub it off and burnish the clean metal. It really was a chore. It took ages. My father used to get cross at the time it took us, and one of the expressions I heard more than once was 'you've only got two speeds - dead slow and stop'. It wasn't helpful. Probably more infuriating for him because of all the delaying and sighing that went into us doing any chore, because he was the overseer. As an adult, I get it and ask myself - punishment for whom?!
This weekend, the lamp stand came to live at my house. It's caused no end of shifting and changing and trying of existing lampshades. And, it needed cleaning. Well, Mr Dunnit was busy knocking holes in the plaster and brick work in preparation for building work. I felt that sitting at my desk and having a bit of craft time was probably an inappropriate way to spend the afternoon whilst he was working so hard on my future comfort. I faffed about and took some photos, I tidied another room, I swept the kitchen floor. And finally realised that I might as well just get the Brasso out and clean the damn lamp. So I did. It took less than twenty minutes. Wilb would have dined out for another lifetime on all the learned lessons in that!

19 comments:

Barb said...

Your lampstand looks lovely all shiny and bright Julia. I'm sure you'll enjoy having it live in your home. Thank you for sharing the memories it held for you. Reading your post reminded me of when I was a child. One of my jobs was to clean the brass door furniture which was also brass. There was only one of me so I always got that job! I remember the door knocker was turned like your lamp stand and I used to hate that job. It always took me a long time to do but there was a great sense of achievement in seeing it all bright and shiny. Barbxx

misteejay said...

I think as a kid, any chore seems just that - irrespective of whether there is pocket money involved or not. We didn't use Brasso, we tended to use Duraglit (sp?) as Mum thought we would cause less mess.
Your lamp stand looks lovely Julia.
Toni xx

Sue said...

My mum had a lot of brass things and I loved cleaning them, as I loved the end result. Brass just isn't the in thing at the moment, which you can see by the amount of it for sale in charity shops.

I like the lampstand and nice that you have something to trigger your memories.

Hope you've had a good start to the week. Sue

voodoo vixen said...

Love your lamp stand Julia, it will give you many happy memories through the future... it was only after I read this post that I realised why I have no brass in my home.... we kids always got the job of cleaning the brass... my Mum had heaps of the stuff!!

Sylvia/LittleTreasures said...

Thanks for the smile ! Seems things of yesteryear come back to still mess with our lives. I still feel the after effects of cleaning out my parents 'Stuff" and thinking it be so useful. Memories yes, useful no. Updates in the world we live in are easy and disposable. I didn't play along with WOYWW this week as computer issues still plague me. Could not load photos that day, got that fixed and found out yesterday my son on Skype cannot hear me...I've no sound out. So researching, using youtube I think I've that fixed. I have done some creating for Halloween grand kids cards. My job for the day within the household frying a package of bacon so he has meat with his breakfast each day !! It's ALL I'm doing today. You have a fun week glad you are doing so well.

Annie said...

Love it. How lovely to have so many happy memories attached to it too.
My mum collected brass ornaments and I remember many a 'happy' hour spent cleaning those but I have to admit to getting rid of them because cleaning them with tears after she died became a real chore and a not so happy memory....plus they didn't fit in our home/lifestyle.
Hugs,
Annie x

okienurse said...

being a military brat my family picked up bits and pieces as we traveled from port to port/base to base. I used to hate having to polish the brass, iron the table clothes etc. I don't do much of it today as I didn't inherit any of the family heirlooms. I am fine with that…I think. I have a few small bits that meant a lot to me and that is what counts. I can remember feeling put upon when called upon to do the polishing too! We had huge brass trays and candle sticks etc. Isn't it amazing though the mumbles and grumbles over doing the cleaning probably took a lot longer then the actual job! Vickie

Kyla said...

Ah brass polishing that does take me back. So many memories wrapped up in that one item eh? Looks gleaming now.
Kyla

Helen said...

Lol! could it be the memory has warped the time it took to clean? well done, it looks gorgeous. Glad you have it to remember some good times (and bad!) by.

Chidkid said...

Fabulous job..well done. I remember similar chores when I was little. My Dad was a coppersmith by trade so you can imagine the amount of brass and copper that I had to clean! lol

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

As an only child, I can truthfully say we didn't have any brass in our home. We had silver, which my Grandmother had me polish once or twice, but never any brass. One thing I had to polish, was my Grandmother's treadle sewing machine. It was cast iron and took forever. Still does. And it's not waffling, either. It takes a long time to get in between all those tiny crevices that seem to accumulate dust from who knows where. I can empathize.

It's a beautiful lamp, and I think it will go nicely in your home. You will enjoy it, now that you know how quickly you can clean it.

Cardarian said...

That was a lovely walk down your memory lane. I enjoyed it very much and it made me think of my mom and the chores I was given. Thank you for sharing. Lots of hugs Cardarian

Cardarian said...

That was a lovely walk down your memory lane. I enjoyed it very much and it made me think of my mom and the chores I was given. Thank you for sharing. Lots of hugs Cardarian

donna garner said...

We got shoe shining chores as punishment but I loved it ...and polishing....in the end ma and pa realised the only way to punish me was to make me sit alone somewhere, even then I would daydream and not realise I was supposed to be reflecting upon my misdemeanours , but a harsh look of public disapproval would render me tearful and penitent!

LisaDV said...

Yep, two hours in youth to 20 minutes in maturity sounds about right. In my house, we were "slow as molasses". It's a wonderful lamp. So glad you shared your memories of reading under it and cleaning it. Enjoy!

Princess Judy Palmer said...

Good memories indeed! My parents had two similar tall (but not as) candlesticks like this. I don't remember them playing much role in my life but polishing the silverware! Oh my, that was punishment. I remember as an adult my mom calling to ask if I'd done anything wrong lately that I could be punished for so I could come polish her silver. LOL!

Craftychris said...

Ah, lessons and memories, wonderful! As is that lamp! xxx

Zsuzsa Karoly-Smith said...

It looks lovely and shiny and what a precious memento of your childhood! I know what you mean about the inappropriateness of crafting while hubby is grafting, LOL!

Shoshi said...

Lovely lamp, Julia, and thanks for the lovely story about it. Brass cleaning has been part of my past as well (and should be part of my present but I'm too lazy lol!) - we always used Duraglit too. I remember the smell, and how long it took to wash your hands afterwards, and even after you'd washed, how they went on smelling of Duraglit! Lovely shiny slippery brass as a result though, with an almost silvery sheen. So glad you've got that lamp now and I hope that cleaning it in future will no longer seem such a chore!

Shoshi