Tuesday, 5 May 2009

MULTIPLY United Friends Challenge #141: Grandmother's Chamer Pot(s)


Tiger's Challenge

Write a story about a chamberpot, using the words:
- Teddybear
- 7 o'clock
- Locked door
- Surprise


Jean grew up with the chamber pot. Her family had them in different sizes, shapes and colours. The outside toilet was a bit dangerous to visit when the evenings began to get darker at 7 o’clock. She had to find her way down the stairs, exit through the door to arrive in the garden where the toilet was. Even taking her teddy bear with her for company did not help. She was at the age where she needed someone with her for moral support, and she just hoped that there were no encounters with spiders on the way.

The toilet itself was really unique. Probably Queen Victoria of England would have been proud to have owned one. The house was built in 1884 according to a stone plaque on the wall at the end of the street, and the toilet was still the original edition. The toilet tank was quite high up, fixed on the wall. Hanging from the tank was a chain, and Jean’s mother would always warn her to pull the chain after she was finished. This resulted in a flush of water down the pan of the toilet. The toilet seat was not exactly a seat. There were planks of wood fitted together which surrounded the toilet pan. The house was old, had withstood two world wars but nothing had been modernised. Jean often heard her mother mention that if the house had been destroyed in the war, they would now be living in something more modern. This was puzzling for a child to understand. If things were destroyed in the war, then people were killed.

Now and again there was perhaps a problem with the working parts of the toilet. That was when Jean’s father would stand on a ladder to see what was happening inside the flushing tank. She learned that the most important part of the mechanism was the ballcock. This word fascinated Jean, although she had no idea what it actually was. Her father was not a plumber, but somehow it seemed to her that all men at that time knew how such a gadget worked. He always managed to fix it.

The door was also wooden, and had a space below and above. Jean always locked the door when she was inside; after all you never knew if someone else wanted to enter. There was no key to the door. It was one of those old metal sliding locks, but it served its purpose. She never felt alone in the toilet, there was always a spider family living there. Not the small editions, but those that Jean would call daddy-longlegs. They were not poisonous, had a neat little round body suspended on their wiry legs and usually sat in the corner or on the wall. Jean always kept a wary eye on their movements.

When Jean’s grandmother passed away, there was suddenly a new collection of chamber pots in the house which were distributed beneath various beds. Jean remembered that a common name for the chamber pot in her part of London was the “goesunder”. It was clear to Jean that this was because it “goes under” the bed.

Grandmother’s chamber pots were really a great surprise. The ones that Jean’s parents had were just plain white china, resembling a giant soup bowl, but with a handle. From the visits she had made to her grandmother’s house, she knew that everything had its place. There were neat little ornaments sitting on the cupboards which her mother would never buy. Money was there to buy food and clothing and not for such ornaments was her mother’s way of thinking.

Grandmother’s chamber pots had flowers painted on them and the china was moulded with various shapes on the surface. As time went on Jean grew up and made her way in the world. Her father had already died and one day the news came that her mother had also passed away.

She attended the funeral and afterwards had to deal with the house. It was a rented house so she arranged for the furniture to be taken away. She was sorting through various items belonging to her parents, photos of day’s gone bye showing herself as a child in the garden of the house with her parents. She had a little laugh when she saw that the famous toilet always seemed to be in the background of photos in the garden.

It was then that she remembered the collection of grandmother’s chamber pots. Where could they be? She searched and found them in an old cupboard that was used for “things that might be useful” as her mother would always say. They were all there, even the one with the beautiful blue flowers and ornate carvings on the china. As a child she had not examined the chamber pot so closely, but now as an adult she found it to be a beautiful piece of work.

The house was cleared and she kept the chamber pots and took them home with her.

“How did it go Jean” asked her husband.
“I managed to get everything disposed of. I just thought I would keep these as a memory” she answered.
“Show me Jean, that is a beautiful piece of work. Did you see the name at the bottom of the pot. It is a genuine Wedgewood.”
“You mean it might be valuable.”
“Jean I am convinced that it is valuable. I will show it to a colleague of mine who is specialised in this sort of thing.”

The chamber pot was examined by her husband’s friend, who owned an antique shop and she was informed that it could easily be sold for quite a lot of money. Jean decided that the memories of the day’s gone bye in her the little house where she grew up were more valuable than a chamber pot and she decided not to sell. It now has a place of honour on the drawing room table. Of course she gave it a thorough wash before putting it there.

United Friends Challenge #141: Grandmother's Chamber Pot(s)

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