Friday, March 03, 2006

My Kingdom for a Hot Water Bottle

I’ve been suffering from some minor sneezy/fluey/achy/earpy thing for a couple of days. I feel a lot better today, though the thought and sight of food is more than I can tolerate. Yesterday I spent the entire day in bed, mostly dozing and asking Ernie pitifully from time to time if he had any idea where the hot water bottle was.

Growing up in England, we needed hot water bottles every night just to get in bed. Remember, most of us lived in houses with small coal fires in one room, around which we would huddle (any one remember chilblains?) Shortly before bedtime, my mother would boil water and put it in our hot water bottles. The first bottles I remember were not the rubber ones, but big, stone logs with a bung in the top. I seem to remember a tendency to leak. When we ran upstairs into our frigid bedrooms, there was a warm patch in our bed which kept us comfortable until our bodies warmed up the sheets.

These days, and especially in a world of central heating, flannel sheets and flannel pyjamas, hot water bottles are an anachronism. I know we had one, but I may have given it away when a friend was sick. But yesterday, when I felt so miserable, it would have been so wonderful to curl up with a hot water bottle. And though I really wasn’t hungry, a soft-boiled egg with toast soldiers might just have done the trick.

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