Let’s do the Time Warp again

Mention the term “time warp” in conversation and you will almost certainly be met with a smile, a few fancy dance steps, or if you’re lucky, a few bars of:
It’s just a jump to the left / And then a step to the right / With your hands on your hips / You bring your knees in tight / But it’s the pelvic thrust / That really drives you insane/ Let’s do the time warp again.

It is one of the most memorable songs from one of the most remarkable cult musicals of the 1970s, the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

You know the story. A straight-laced, square couple, seeking shelter from a storm find themselves in the castle of a transgender alien mad scientist, intent on creating a buff bodybuilder for his own fascination and entertainment.

It’s all pretty outrageous stuff – haunted mansions and secret labs, corsets and glitter, sex and the destruction of innocence – which brings me to the point of this new column.

Gather close and I’ll let you into a personal secret. Sometimes I feel like Janet attending the Annual Transylvanian Convention – so out of place, if you know what I mean.

Sometimes I wish I could just turn back the clock and stay right where my memories take me so often – the past. Now that would be a fine old time warp – an imaginary distortion of space and time that allows people to move from one period another.

Perhaps it’s a function of age, but the seemingly endless sunny days of my youth call me more frequently now that I’m in my 60th year.

(Perish the thought, I’m starting to sound like my mother, who with damp blue eyes would refer wistfully to “the halcyon days of yore”.)

“Back in the 1960s, Mum had two good frocks which were for church or school concerts”

But Mum, you were dead right. Back in the old days, things were easier and simpler somehow.
Okay, washing was an all-day affair and, sure, you had to stoke up the boiler or feed the ringer, taking care not to get fingers, thumbs or long hair caught in the apparatus.

But you didn’t have to spend half the morning in a knot of frustration talking to a Telstra “consultant” in some far-off land about the vagaries of your home internet connection.

Gosh, life in the ’60s and ’70s was good, which is not to say that life in 2017 is miserable. Life is generally better than the alternative but modern life is just different from how I remember life being.

Wardrobes were smaller when I was young because we didn’t have many clothes. There was no need to learn the “art of decluttering”. We were flat out having enough of any one thing. You would have to say that our propensity for accumulation is a recent phenomenon.

These days my clothes spill from one built-in wardrobe to another and then to another. I also have large plastic bins to house my winter clothes during the summer – and please don’t mention the shoe collection.
My better half and I can’t share a walk-in wardrobe. It’s big enough for his clothes only.

Back in the 1960s, Mum had two good frocks, which were for church or school concerts. She had two pairs of shoes, one of which she had bought before the War, one hat, one handbag and two pairs of gloves.

Socks were darned. String and brown paper were saved. Grandfather’s old trousers were cut down for the children. Stale bread was turned into bread and butter pudding. The combustion stove heated the water.

And without wishing to cause fright or offend sensibilities, sometimes (well often, if I’m to be completely honest) we shared the bath water. I always had first bath. It was a privilege of being the youngest and the only girl.

Dad always bathed last, but he smelled clean, just like Sunlight soap. If I close my eyes, I can smell him now.

Granny Smith apples came in boxes and, to prevent bruising I suppose, half the apples were wrapped in squares of green, wax paper. It was my job to collect the wax paper, flatten out each piece and then thread it onto a hook made of fencing wire, whereupon the whole kit and caboodle was hung in the outhouse and used for ablution.  

It all sounds rather appalling now, but it didn’t seem so at the time. One of the golden rules of joyful reminiscence is that it just does not do to apply today’s standards to the past.

And so, dear Reader, welcome to Time Warp.