Sunday, 10 April 2016

LAYING OUT THE RED (ORANGE & YELLOW) CARPET...



Hard as it may be for some of you less ancient readers
to believe, fitted carpets in houses were not always the norm
back in the 1960s and '70s - at least, they weren't in my house.
We didn't get our first fitted living-room carpet 'til 1972, when
we first moved into the very house in which I now reside
as I type this strange, but hopefully interesting post.

Until then, we'd just used the same carpet from one
house to another, quite regardless of whether it adequately
fitted the floor space or not.  Any recesses along the sides, or
extra space at the back of the room were filled with linoleum,
providing a flat, smooth surface on which to play with wind-
up robots, DALEK ROLYKINS, or toy cars by CORGI,
DINKYTRIANG, and MATCHBOX.

Regular readers will be fed-up hearing how my family
moved to another house in 1983, but 'though it was a much
larger house, it had a smaller living-room, so our fitted carpet
from '72 was cut down to fit the dimensions of the new room.
Regular readers will doubtless also be equally fed-up hearing
how, in 1987, we moved back to our former home.  We got
a new fitted carpet for the living-room, and our old one
was used for the hallway and staircase.

Until then, our staircase carpet, as was common at
one time, ran down the middle of the stairs and was held
in place by sliding clamps, embedded in the painted wooden
margins on either side of the carpet.  Perhaps the concept of
carpets that don't fit from wall-to-wall will seem like a sign of
poverty or deprivation to anyone under 30, but it was once
quite standard in British homes, regardless of a family's
income or perceived social status.

Now, if you're a mere youngster, the dates I listed
will seem like prehistory to you, but, to someone my age,
they won't seem like that long ago.  So, to recap:  First fitted
living-room carpet in 1972, and first fitted stair carpet in 1987.
(And just to complete the picture, we didn't get our first colour
TV until 1975 or '76.)  If you're a similar age to me, does this
match your experience of growing up, or did you live in
opulent splendour, with fitted carpets and colour TVs
in every room?  Do tell.

What I find hard to get my mind around is that our
old living-room carpet served that purpose for 15 years
(in two houses), before changing careers and becoming a
hall and staircase carpet, a position it's fulfilled for nearly
29 years now.  Yet it seems like only a few short years
ago that it was covering our living-room floor.

  How time flies, eh?   

24 comments:

Dunsade Dave said...

A while back, while reminiscing about something or other at work, I mentioned waking up in the mornings as a child and finding ice on the inside of the windows where condensation had froze during the night. Some colleagues in their early 20s, who had never known life without central heating and double glazing, were amazed at this and seemed to think I grew up in some Dickensian squat. I actually remember those mornings, cold as they were, with fondness, getting dressed under the bedclothes was a favorite way to conserve heat.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that people who grew up without central heating are more aware of feeling cold- I do tend to moan about the cold in work more than younger folk, so that either backs that up or shows me as a miserable sod. Probably a bit of both, i reckon.

Graham said...

I remember getting a color TV when I was around four or five, so that would be around '68. My folks rented a house until I was ten, then they bought a house and installed shag carpet about a year later or so. That stayed in place for until about fifteen years ago and it was replaced with a different style. Color TV was becoming the norm in '68 or '69, as was air conditioning, given the hot temps and humidity in the summer around here. When my parents got married in the early 60's, the first thing my Mom bought when they moved into a house was an air conditioner. Her in-laws were stunned at the extravagance, but soon they were regular visitors. :)

Kid said...

What amazes me, DD, is seeing younger folk (teenagers and the like) walking around in the town centre with t-shirts and shorts on, yet I'm bloody freezing. I also recall with fondness mornings like those you describe - they've got it too easy nowadays, I reckon. Remember going to primary school as a kid with shorts on when it was raining or snowing, your knees exposed to the winter elements? I doubt that parents would be allowed to send their kids out like that nowadays.

******

If we wanted 'air-conditioning', G, we opened a window - but that was in summer. The rest of the year, we didn't have to worry about things like that - not in Scotland anyway. I think colour TVs were more widespread in America than they were in Britain, probably because of the TV license, which you don't have. It was cheaper for a license for a b&w TV than it was for a colour one. (Still is, actually.)

Graham said...

It stays in the upper 90's here during the summer, with humidity hitting in the 90% range, too. It can be pretty brutal from early June until mid September. When I was a kid, most houses had attic fans, which we would turn on at night and leave the windows open to bring cool air through the house. No one hardly uses those anymore, but they were pretty nice and inexpensive to use.

During the winter months, it goes from 30's and 40's during the day to 60's and 70's, sometimes in the same week, so we actually keep summer and winter clothes available during winter. :)


Kid said...

We usually get a variety of seasons daily where I live. Except for summer - even during summer.

Colin Jones said...

We had a black & white TV all through my childhood years but my gran had a colour TV which she kept in a cabinet and the doors would be opened whenever she wanted to watch TV - I always thought of that colour TV as being really exotic and I'd watch it whenever I visited, I particularly remember watching Joe 90 around 1971 or '72. The window in my bedroom also used to get frozen on the inside with condensation - but nowadays it never gets cold enough, even without double glazing, thanks to bloody climate change. In my current house I have fitted carpets but the staircase is all wood, painted white.

Kid said...

Climate change hasn't seemed to make winters in Scotland any less cold, CJ, so you're windows not getting frozen is probably due more to central heating than anything else, I'd say. And think of your poor neighbours, having to listen to you clumping up and down your wooden stairs throughout the day. Get a stair carpet and put them out of their misery. I think a cabinet TV is a good idea, as when it's closed, I'd imagine people are less inclined to idly watch rubbish just to pass the time.

paul Mcscotty said...

I had forgotten that we used to take the living room carpet with us when we “flitted” although I think in our family if it didn’t fit the new living room it would be used for a bedroom rather than put lino around the edges (and we got a new living room carpet in those cases - a massive purchase back then). We also only had carpet up the middle of the stairs secured with stair rods (still seems a good idea to me) for some time up until around 1972 when we bought our own house and got all posh.

When we were kids my mum or Dad would get up early and light the fire (coal or electric depending on the house) along with our paraffin heater (I still get taken right back to 1967-75ish when I smell paraffin (ESSO Blue etc) I must just have accepted the cold at the time but couldn’t face not waking up to a toasty house in the morning nowadays. I recall that it was so cold one winter that not only was ice on the inside of the windows but our poor goldfishes bowl was ¼ filled with ice (they even made goldfish tougher in those days as it had no ill effects, then again it was a Glasgow fish!)

I vividly remember as a kid my mum wrapping me up in a duffle coat, warm jumper, vest, balaclava , a scarf wrapped securely around me with a safety pin (so tightly secured that the teacher had to release me) idiot clothes (both gloves on a string threaded through my duffle coat arms) , thick socks and like you said sending me out it 3 foot of snow in wellingtons and short trousers (with a snake belt) and my feet filling up with snow and the “wellys” marking my legs, my knee’s freezing and horrible things happening to my nose! – (I got “hacks” - is that only a Glasgow term???)

I never felt the cold as a teenager early/mid 20s and used to go out dressed from summer in the middle of winter (in an vain attempt to look trendy)

Kid said...

When we got our first fitted living-room carpet in 1972, the old one would have become a bedroom carpet upstairs, McS, so obviously we Scots are thrifty people. Did you have lino in any rooms, apart from the kitchen and bathroom? Stair rods - that was the words I was looking for, couldn't remember what they were called. Or am I thinking of something different, as what I'm talking about wasn't a rod that went from one end to the other, merely a sort of clamp that held the stair carpet in place at each end of the stair?

Families seemed to congregate in the same room back in the '60s, because there was no central heating around the house. I've still got an 'Aladdinique' paraffin heater in my hall, the same one that's adorned the hall of every house I've ever lived in.

And I used to wear a duffle coat too, right up to my early teenage years. Not the same one, obviously, as I got a new one as I grew. I never bothered trying to look trendy, as I realized what was beyond me from an early age.

Ah, happy days, eh, McS?

paul Mcscotty said...

I only recall stair rods that would either hold the carpet in place from one end of the stair to another (even when carpet just ran up the middle) or just for the length of the carpeted area - and yes, there were stair clamps (or stair holds) that were 2 separate clamps (as opposed to the single rod) that you affixed to either end of the carpeted area or just at the end of the stair as you noted ( some you screwed into the stair others clamped around the carpet/ or stair itself) . I now waaaaaaay to much about carpets to be healthy!

We had lino in our cupboards (if we had any left over from the bathroom or kitchen) I can’t recall having it any other place but we may well have had it in the wee area when you walk into the house .

Kid said...

Ah, right, it was the separate stair clamps we had in all our houses. We had lino in a recess in our living-room where the sideboard used to fit, and at the back of the room. Also along either side of the fireplace, as the carpet only fitted up to the bottom of the mantlepiece, which jutted out from the wall (as mantlepieces tend to do). It never seemed odd to me at the time, although, when I think about it, some of my pals had fitted living-room carpets, and at least one had a fitted stair carpet. I wonder if they ever considered my family as paupers?

Colin Jones said...

I grew up in a village and we had no gas supply so we had a coal fire - back in the '70s we had lots of power cuts and the coal fire was very handy as we could make toast on the fire using the grill from the cooker and we could boil water for tea. But I'm glad I've got a gas supply now as coal was really dirty. I remember once when we were making tea and toast during a power cut and we'd run out of butter so my father suggested spreading a thin layer of lard on the toast and sprinkling it with salt - it was really nice !!

Kid said...

We had a coal fire too, on occasion, CJ, and I remember the coal shed/cellar in the back garden. One side was for coal, the other for garden tools, etc. Each side had its own door, 'though it was one structure. I remember those '70s power cuts as well, and having to read by candlelight or torchlight, etc. Happy days, eh?

Dunsade Dave said...

McScotty, you might be right about hacks being a glaswegian term, I remember using them as an excuse to try to get out of swimming at school- the teacher, who was English, didn't have a clue what I was talking about. And still made me do swimming, too.

Colin- I remember those tellies in the wooden cabinets too- we had one with a kind of miniature sliding louvre door that covered the screen. It had a dial too, instead of buttons.

Speaking of tellies, when I was a bairn it was only posh people who owned TVs- everyone I knew had a rented telly. Hard to imagine now, when you can pick up a decent quality telly in most supermarkets at affordable prices.

Kid said...

Maybe your English teacher had difficulty understanding a Scottish accent, DD? I've no idea whether 'hacks' is a Scottish word or not, I'll have to look it up. We rented our TV right up into the '80s, I believe. It was because they became more affordable over the years that it eventually made more sense to buy than rent, I think.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, it's strange getting nostalgic about power cuts but it always makes me smile when I remember us huddled around the fire in the dark eating toast and drinking tea - can you imagine today's youth surviving even 30 minutes without their computers ? Of course they'd still have their phones...until the battery ran out and it needed recharging. I'd completely forgotten about renting TVs - we did that too. But I'm pretty sure my gran owned her colour TV - obviously another "Poverty-stricken pensioner" !!

Kid said...

Today's youths wouldn't last 5 minutes without power, CJ. Incidentally, just because your gran may have been relatively well-off doesn't mean that ALL pensioners are. Poverty-stricken pensioners DO exist you know. (Although poverty in the west isn't quite the same thing as in other countries.)

Colin Jones said...

Well, I refuse to believe any modern pensioners are "poor" what with the minimum income guarantee, winter fuel payment, free bus passes, free TV licence and so on - my late mother was just an ordinary pensioner and she had more money than she knew what to do with. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that, like Dunsade Dave, our TV had a dial rather than buttons - it's funny how you forget these things !!

Kid said...

Well, when pensioners retire, they don't benefit from the minimum income guarantee, CJ, and your mother may have been in the fortunate position of having a good pension from your father after he died. However, it's a bit silly to assume that all pensioners are in that situation just because your mother was. And, as demonstrated by you not believing the widely-accepted fact that Star Wars saved Marvel, there's a huge difference in what you believe and what is actually the case. As for dials on TV, mine had them as well, but I hadn't forgotten them. I also recall having to fiddle with the aerial in order to get a better picture from channel to channel - and we only had three back then.

paul Mcscotty said...

I had totally forgotten about renting TVs etc and there used to be loads of TV rental shops in the High street as well like Rediffusion, Visionhire, DER, British Relay, Granada and Radio Rentals.Yeah moving the ariel around to get a good reception was always a pain.

Dunsdale - glad someone else had heard of "Hacks" as in a nippy wee rash on your legs from the cold or not drying them properly /in time.

I agree the new pesnsion (£155 a week if eligible for the full rate) is not bad Colin but I agree with Kid that not all pensioners are well off some struggle and £155 a week does not buy a lot today if not backed up by a private pension even taking account of free bus passes and reduced rent . Remember people pay NI to get their pension its not free.

Kid said...

And as we all know, McS, there's nothing free in today's world. If all pensiors were as well off as CJ believes, then none of them would be dying of the cold because they can't afford to heat their houses, and that certainly happens. Free TV? Big deal, it's mostly all sh*te nowadays.

Phil said...

Yes we rented our tv. And it had the six buttons or four or whatever it was for the different channels. Oh for the days when you got back from school and BBC 2 had the test pattern, BBC 1 had cricket Lea I got you with ITV.... Ok some things were worse back in the day.

Kid said...

I think I preferred when there were only three channels, Phil. They should have stopped after Channel Four, 'cos there's far too much crap on nowadays. A greater selection of crap is hardly a good thing in my view.

Kid said...

Oops, that should read 'pensioners' in my comment above Phil's, not 'pensiors'.

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