Posts Tagged ‘Hoover’

What price Freedom?

February 27, 2017

Mum in Holland with a Hoover electric vacuum cleaner. (not cordless)

We are all not so sure anymore if it is safe to visit the US. A pity. We have never been there. Perhaps it might be possible take a cruise and visit New York without getting off board and risk going through Border Control and be detained. When Ali Jr hardly got through how about anyone with a non-Anglo name? I visited Egypt back in 1961. This might well come to punish me. No doubt the FBI or secret service have kept a tab on that visit.

While ‘Oosterman’ doesn’t sound Arabic, it does smack of something sinister. Oost is easily an East, and we all know what that means, don’t we? And what about that ‘man’ at the end?  A man from East? Say no more; detain him.

All kidding aside, and with all respect to my US based friends rest assured that the same is going on here in Australia. We don’t detain for a few hours, our prime minster Turnbull detains people for years if not life on Manus and Nauru. Woe those daring to enter Australia and not having drowned. You will be punished.

When I visited Egypt so long ago it was still allowed and possible to get right inside the Pyramid of Cheops. There was a tunnel that led one right up into the Queen’s chamber. It was quite a hike up and then down with a never ending stream of tourists doing the same. Afterwards there was the obligatory camel ride. I took a bit of stone from the pyramid and kept it for years together with a fez that I had bought in Port Said on our migration trip to Australia in 1956. So, our involvement with the middle East started early. The fez and pyramid piece of stone have long gone, possibly pinched by our children when young, showing off to their friends how well travelled their parents were!

Rumblings of Turnbull’s demise and Trumps impeachment are growing fatter and gets richly fertilized as time goes by. We shall see. In the meantime I am still kept busy with another type of freedom; the Hoover cordless ‘Freedom.’ I have just done ( vacuumed) our whole house with one charge. What do you think of that? Of course, the battery is a lithium. It is now the new catch word in electronic jargon. People ask ; How are your lithiums going?

We were in Sydney yesterday having a lunch with daughter and one grandson. The other one is fighting with his mother over not being home ‘on time’ as promised. We know that problem well. However, it is their turn now. We are old and beyond feeling guilty about grandchildren behaviour, especially teen-grandchildren. There are lots of books about teen problems now. Just don’t read them.

Ever since we started brushing Milo, the hair load on our floor has eased. We brush him twice daily. He likes it and actually leans against the steel rubber tipped hairbrush. I then have the job of unpicking Milo’s hair from the brush. It is quite a job. (twice a day) I was surprised therefore that even with all that brushing I had to empty the ‘Freedom’ cordless twice as the canister was chock-a-block with Milo’s dust and hair. Milo just studies my vacuuming and then yawns.

That’s freedom for you.


Mr Hoover; Look what you have done!

November 15, 2014

First flush of love

First flush of love

One of my all time heroes is Quinten Crisp. He proudly stated that in having lived for over four decades in a London bedsit, he never once cleaned it. “After a while, all dust just settled in the corners of my room just like snow.” You could not define this more poetically, could you? How utterly sensible and wise. The advent of so many suffering with respiratory lung troubles is now seen as a problem asescerbated by the overtly cleanliness and obsessive use of Pine-o-Clean and other disinfectants, killers of benevolent bacteria. We seem to kill the goodness in dirt and filth. The biggest problem and cause of this obsession though is the vacuum cleaner.

However, and here comes the catch. Dirt and dust don’t easily combine with domestic bliss. They don’t marry and live comfortably in the presence of conjugal stability and effervescent cohabitation between the different or not so different sexes. The Hoover Company knew that back in the thirties and cunningly took advantage of the hunt to eliminate dust and dirt. The broom was doomed! The original Hoover was called ‘a suction sweeper’ developed by a man called Spangler who suffered from asthma and blamed his lung problems on dust. The war on dust had begun.

And yet, what could be simpler and more aesthetically pleasing than to observe the workings and sounds of the simple broom. Remember this simple broom with willow twigs bound together around a nice and smooth handle? I remember the lovely swishing sounds it used to make. Now, one has to go to simple villages of Cambodia or Bali to yet see again, hear and get back into touch of the broom and their early morning swishing sounds. This sound and crowing roosters, how honest, earthy and essential.

Now look what damage you have done Mr Hoover. Please, go and ponder the hideous looks of the modern vacuum cleaner. A monstrous design. Mr Alvar Aalto would turn in his grave. The bulbous multi buttoned rocket look. Is it meant to land us on a comet or double as a spare bazooka trained onto foe and neighbour? This hideousness is rampant in the world of so many household aids but especially vacuum cleaners. It is promoted as having ‘cyclonic and climatic ‘ properties. Cyclonic? All those buttons and twisting hoses, wheels and gyrating whirling motors, just for dust? Give me back my willow broom!

My mother and Hoover

My mother and Hoover

But, in the quest for domestic harmony, I too have succumbed, like my parents did, back in Rotterdam, to a vacuum cleaner. I too do the rounds, listlessly but with enough determination to fill the bag. I too pull this machine around obstacles and sincerely lie, when asked if I have removed all the bedside tables, or vacuumed under the bed. (I avoid doing that because it always sucks up a sock.) It is painful and mind dehydrating. At the end, the machine disgorges its bag with dog hair and grey dust, a strange pink rubber ring, a hairpin or Milo’s abandoned crust of Pane di Casa into the bin of discontented household garbage.

Look at the happiness on the faces of my parents, seduced by a new Hoover. The newly weds. They would have been the last of the Mohicans in willow broom usage.

It makes me weep bitter tears.

Parents wedding and large Bloomers

November 6, 2013

Here the wedding photo of my parents. They look happy and my mother’s pose is suitably coy and modest. Modesty was the norm then. I remember Princess Diane striking similar stances. The eyes heaven-bound and face slightly askew. My mother looks ravishing and dad wishing to get to that. Their lives at the very beginning. It was love after dad walked into a tram while looking at the sky and mum helped him with some kind words afterwards. It was destined to happen. It was true love. Dad never gave up looking at the stars and heavens. Mum never gave up caring for him and her brood.


Perhaps a gift to the couple was a vacuum cleaner. The machine was packed in one of the cases and I remember dad on board forever getting the crew to lug up the cases from the ship’s hold so he could do yet another inventory and precious allocation of what was in each case. The cases were numbered and in my previous post some of those numbers on cases are visible on the photo where we are all horizontal. The vacuum cleaner was a Hoover and the pride of our early home life. Here my mum in action still in The Hague. You could never get dad to vacuum. As in my own house-hold, suffice Helvi would not know how to switch it on! Show me dust and let me loose. Not a corner or nook will escape the wrath of our Niffisk ‘meteor’ even without cyclonic power.


The photo of mum vacuuming is a charming insight in their domestic life but even more so the next picture of both of them in utter contentment. Both are shining with happiness and nothing is indicated yet of any future drama, let alone chuck it all in for a chance to a better life down under to Australia. Surely owning a Hoover would not be regarded as slumming it as it was some years before during the war. They were bad times but things were looking up. However, as the number of children grew almost yearly, the income of dad became sparser as it had to be spread between increasing numbers of stomachs to be filled and bodies to be clad.


You can tell that with the flowers on the little table (Now residing with my brother in Brisbane) that life must have been so fulfilling. Just look at my dad’s face and the confidence of mum reading with him the paper.

I never forget my mother’s pragmatism. Some years later when I was about 12, she made me go to a shop called Vroom & Dreesman. A bit like DJ’s here. Thursdays were ‘special’ days. The Newspaper would advertise a few days before all the ‘specials’ in fashion or other domestic items. This certain Thursday it was the turn for Women’s underwear. I was to be sent and get women underpants that were apparently a bargain. I duly walked to this store with my mother’s money and order for a normal size medium underpants. Two pairs, she reminded me.

On arrival at the underwear section there was a windmill of flailing mother arms digging into a huge pile of underpants. I managed to get two pairs with the help of a kind lady. My mother was happy. Good boy, Gerard. I am so proud of you!

I have often wondered why in the building of my future considerable inventory of erotic phantasies, female lingerie loomed and still does,large. Was Miss Oedipus already knocking on my pre-teen sexual doors? Onanism had not occurred as yet.

It will take years on a large couch to unravel this one.

It’s all so mysterious.