It was lovely to hear from Shirley, whose relatives used to splurge out on socks and gloves, but decided this year, due to the current circumstances, to make the heart wrenching decision to downgrade from socks to soap. What sort of gift tag would you write to go with that?
‘This is soap, dear. You take the wrapper off first. Then you put water on your hand (warm is best) and rub it on the soap. Then you rub your hand on your face. Next you splash water on your face and then dry it on a towel. Gets rid of the soot round your nose lovely. We use it up to twice a week without embarrassment.’
I have met Shirley on several occasions at the Min. As well as being comely and a cracking miniaturist, she is noticeable clean, not the sort you would pass soap to under cover of darkness, murmuring, ‘feel better,’ as you melt into the shadows.
Nevertheless Shirley is putting soap on her gratitude list.
By my reckoning it is 55 years since soap was aspirational. In the mid Sixties my mother had the man, the house, the flower arranging classes and the dinner parties. What she lacked was soap.
Yes, indeed for a couple of Christmases she was upgraded by gift from the cleaning edge of a block of green Fairy to a selection of multi-coloured gift soaps in an artfully undecorated wooden (so authentic) box of guest soaps.
Always referred to in the plural, the guest soaps were aspirational because of the implication that you had a) many guests and b) a special place for them to wee. We had passed a landmark in history from ‘indoor toilet’ to ‘extra indoor toilet’.
Oh the choices! Shall I go in the upstairs toilet in the morning and save the downstairs one for the afternoon,or just go ad hoc as the mood takes me?
Not only did the guests have their own toilet, they had their own towels, toilet paper, and, of course, their own plural soaps, displayed on the windowsill in the box, so that guests emerging, relieved, could say, ‘Oh I see you have those soaps!’ Giving them the opportunity to show that they were absolutely au fait with what was de rigeur. (Soap, in case you’ve forgotten.)
The following Christmas my mother was gifted two boxes of soaps from two different gifters. There was a lesser box, which was square and had, I think, nine soaps in it. But the superior gifter had stretched to the top of the range box (afterwards referred to as the big oblong box) containing soaps too numerous to be enumerated (possibly twelve).
We should probably join Shirley in gratitude for soap at present. My grandchildren know how to wash their hands with soap while singing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ in Welsh, twice.
Right now the virus situation is not hopeless as long as we are not soapless.
I could have called this
The Joy Of Soap but you might have got the wrong idea. What are you grateful for in January? Click the link below, where it says ‘Leave a comment’ and let me know.