So said a cousin to me recently. We were discussing the carpets in his home that he had been renting out. It brought back to my mind my childhood. We were renters until I was 12, when my parents bought a home. There were quite a few that I remember and some I can’t however one of the enduring memories was the cold floors. Insulation in homes at that time in the 60’s and seventies was unheard of. The homes we rented were old, and generally had no curtains, perhaps roller blinds (that’s another story). Invariably they had some sort of a passageway which as soon as mum was able would be furnished with a runner of coconut matting. This was hard wearing very coarse fibre, it served a couple of purposes, one was decorative. Greeny blue kind of hues from memory, bound down the edge either side, it was probably sold by the yard. It did a good job of trapping dirt, akin to sandpaper it would scrape the sand or dirt of your feet waiting to be gathered at some stage. I have vague memories of a very old vacuum cleaner, electrolux most likely but I remember the carpet being taken outside and beaten and the remaining dust and dirt being swept off the floor. It also served as an instrument of torture, ideal for dragging siblings along resulting in some pretty impressive carpet burns!
I did not equate bare floors with poverty, not one of the things in my mind really, most of the houses I have lived in as an adult have been carpeted including one which had shag pile in the dining room…. go figure. these days I equate carpets as places where dust mites can congregate, at some stage i am most likely to pull up the carpets in my wooden floored house. The native tongue and groove flooring is too beautiful to be hidden really. I prefer wooden floors, they have spring in them, perhaps if I owned a house with concrete floors I may have a change of heart. Poor curtaining I certainly equate with poverty and other more nefarious and darker things. There are some things that I equate with poverty. Boiled mince is one of those things.
I remember with some shame in the early days of my marriage my wife (now ex) served up boiled mince for dinner. I was how shall we say this, intemperate in my response. You see it provoked a reaction in me. We as children ate pretty well, the staple meat was sheep meat, rarely beef,chicken was even more scarce and pork well I remember roast pork for New Years Day, I don’t remember it any other time. Mum was an enthusiastic cook and everything was made with love, which made up for most things, dad made a superb gravy! Potatoes came in a sugar sack 40 pound at a time, when dad didn’t have them from his garden. We were never in danger form under-cooked vegetables! Desserts were simple, My favourite was bread pudding, dago, rice and tapioca well not for me is all I will say. Home preserved fruit and fresh cream straight from the dairy factory where dad worked well that was something else! But I remember boiled, grey, gluggy,glutinous,mince on occasion and to my mind that was poverty.
I cook mince often these days but it is varied from sphag bol to lasagne, mince chowmein hamburger patties, meatballs. More versatile than sausage but good value and quick to prepare. Today as I thought about this post i was thinking of how much I would like a leg of Mutton, not lamb or even hogget but old-school mutton. Way beyond my price point these days the cheapest meat would have to be chicken, a far cry from my childhood.
Tomorrow I become unemployed my contract is finished at school. Right now if I were a horse I would be shot, I have a couple of severe injuries and according to the specialist probable permanent nerve damage, it is frustrating to sit around, and be able to do so little at the moment. i rebel against it every now and then but then pay a high price for even very moderate activity, the other day after i got out of a swimming pool, ( a hot soak after a gentle 4 k circuit around Mauao or Mount Maunganui or the Mount as it is known by many) I had to sit down where I was before I fell down. I contemplated seeking assistance, however the thought of getting a wheel chair and the attendant fuss of that gave me determination to grit my teeth and make it to the changing sheds. the narrative of disability like that is really unpleasant.
Unemployment in the past has not particularly bothered me. I am versatile I have earned money in various ways from milking cows, swinging a hammer, driving trucks. it doesn’t matter i like work. Not even being able to mow my lawns that is another matter. Not working equates with poverty in my mind. I hate it and the attendant issues it brings. The pressures and lifestyle choices that it impacts upon one and my family above all is particularly unpleasant.
I know we will be ok,I know how to live cheaply, I have good friends and great kids that has to be enough for now and i am grateful for it in my life.