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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Monday, 28 November 2016

Ever try soot?

Did a post about brisket at the week-end; posted it; deleted it 24 hr later. Reason: bad taste.

No matter, I can write a post about anything. And I mean anything. Even if it's truly boring. Let's say tooth-paste.

Being old I have a historical perspective. I was born in an era when one didn't just squeeze flat the tube (seemingly made of lead), one slit it down the side and scraped out the last traces for a final economy brush-over. But economy could be pushed further. Tooth-paste also came in a flat circular tin which contained what can only be described as a chemical hockey-puck. These never got used up, mainly because they didn't create any foam; the hockey-puck could have been made of granite.

Another tinned tooth-paste was called Eucryl and I was astonished to see in Tesco the brand still survives. But not the original format. Old Eucryl came as powder; accidentally knock the tin over and, whoops! you were reduced to using soot (see pic). I never tried soot, thought it might be a hoax.

Smokers had their own tooth-paste. Possibly sweepings from the floor of a company manufacturing industrial diamonds. I didn't smoke. Didn't need to. West Riding air was an even more effective poison.

In the USA, as one might expect in such a health-conscious country, tooth-paste was sold in huge quantities with special plungers. Not quite as extreme as detergents labelled Large, Enormous, and Home Laundry. The latter was just this side of requiring casters for ease of movement
It's difficult occupying your mind while cleaning your teeth. You can't usefully read or sing. You can of course think: Ask yourself am I being taken for a ride with all this expensive, probably unnecessary stuff?


  1. Ok - it's not strictly toothpaste, but one of the "luxuries" I miss most when on a multi-day backpacking trip is my electric toothbrush.

    Here is Dropbox link to another take on teeth brushing:


  2. Oh shame, Robbie, if you are not still scissoring open the tube for the last scrapings?
    There was also, maybe specially for children, a flat pink puck called 'Ivory Castles' (I think). Not sure it ever did any good, tasted very sweet and, as you say, lasted forever. Unless it got dropped in the basin and left to disintegrate. And the tins rusted.

  3. Sir Hugh: Time to investigate the range of non-powered tooth brushes. There's a wide choice and the efficiency does vary. I fear I'm not familiar with dropbox so whatever it had to tell me was not disclosed.

    Fed: Tell that to our arthritic fingers. We have reached the age where saving the planet at the expense of physical and/or mental effort is now a no-brainer. I have just remembered the predominant tinned brand: Gibbs. Mainly for children I think.

  4. You've left out flossing, brushing's grotesque companion. Ribbon or string? Waxed or unwaxed? In a disposable plastic holder with a mini comb handle? Should one dispose of said tool as millions of others in the US do, by tossing them onto the parking lot? Brushing makes a soothing sound, it's soft and frothy, and one could possibly read while brushing, if one were inclined to spend a good deal of time at it. Try reading while flossing. And don't re-use floss unless ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

  5. Copy and paste the URL link into your browser and you will see a photograph.

  6. In the words of your friend Hugh, it's a LINK !

  7. Sir Hugh: Did that first time round. No go

  8. Just tried again myself and it works ok. I copied the link then pasted it into my browser and hit return.

  9. MikeM: The prophets of flossing were never able to reassure me that a little carelessness might not see the taut, reciprocating string rise up between the flossed teeth and saw a great crevice in the upper jaw. No use telling me that this could never happen - the envisaged image was far too vivid. Australian bushmen, I believe, use a twig, chewed into a fan shape, to achieve a much safer conclusion.

    Read what? The instructions that came with the brush? Perhaps a score by Erik Satie - one of the shorter Gymnopédies.

    Sir Hugh: Are you sure there's anything in this for me? Sounds like the first step in an irreversible trick to have me buy a Mac. I won't have it, I say.

  10. Sir Hugh: Hit? I never abuse any of the keys, I use all of them daily.

  11. I hadn't remembered Gibbs toothpaste for what must be nearly fifty years, that's mind-boggling.

    When we first came here we experimented with some stuff, I forget its name, that had a grotesque grinning manikin on the box and looked like it might have been on sale since Balzac's time. The figure turned out to be a bullfighter, not sure why, and the product turned out to be lurid, bright, opaque red. I then remembered one of my teachers telling us they used to use something similar as stage blood in theatrical performances. I don't know if you can still get it.

    Now I cannot envisage life without Sensodyne, a few days without it and I'm in neuralgic misery. Another small reason that, with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, I'm glad I live in the age I do.

  12. Lucy: Our blog-union is strengthening not weakening. Consider the links lately established: Me-and-Julio-down-by-the-schoolyard (Not forgetting the radical priest, never forget him) and now Gibbs tinned toothpaste. We're upheld by the columns of an obscure but shared culture; nothing may separate us.

    I think you'd better go out this very morning and buy a tin of Sang-o-Dent. Never a chance that conversation with guests Chez Kempton need ever sag again.

    Your Sensodyne-induced gladness becomes even more poignant. Not just "Glad I live in the age I do" but that exclusiveness now extends to the future.

    Does Brexit sound like teeth breaking off?

  13. "I can write a post about anything."

    This is a grand claim indeed. In my new (and yet to be voted on) role of 'copywriter' I have been called upon to write on such a weird and wonderful variety of topics that I fear most of them were hoaxes. So far I have accepted, "The Bengali Film -Raincoat", "Vanity Phone Numbers" and "PlayStation Virtual Reality Games". The latter went so far against my values that I struggled to be sensible. I couldn't turn it down though because it was the replacement for its completely undoable predecessor, "Something to do with Rugby."

  14. Blonde Two: A grand claim? A copywriter must be able to rise to the challenge. One trick is to start off unexpectedly.

    The Bengali film - Raincoat
    It reminds me of Falstaff: "Lord, Lord, how subject we old men are to this vice of lying!" For I am old (though not as fat), I lie (justifying it as honourable if I'm able to make readers laugh), I guzzle great quantities of sherris-sack (but only the fino variety and always kept in the fridge - something Sir John didn't have access to) and I deliberately try to ensure my boasting is self-evidently hollow.

    I haven't seen Raincoat, I freely admit that. My defence: I live out in the sticks and am still trying to decide whether a Netflix subscription will meet my needs which are rarely satisfied by extended views of latest Bruce Willis's beautifully shaven chest. But I have seen Indian movies... or pondered seeing them. Back in my youth you couldn't qualify as an intellectual if you hadn't seen Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and Apur Sansar). Those three movies were not only Bengali, they were produced by the Government of West Bengal. And they went on to win awards at the Cannes, Berlin and Venice film festivals. I certainly wanted to be taken as an intellectual and I dithered, but in the end I denied myself the experience. Rightly or wrongly I was convinced the movies would be simply an excuse to force Western eyes to watch poor people suffer.

    And you know what? I'm glad. Because two years ago I did get around to seeing an Indian movie, The Lunch Box. It's described as an epistolary romantic film but don't let that put you off. It sweats with life like the streets of Mumbai in which it is set. It is frequently hilarious and endlessly touching. It tells the tale of...

    Blah, blah, blah. Etc.

    Blonde Two, your first lesson as a copywriter capable of writing about anything is now at an end. Go forth and multiply.