16.02.2009 07:43 - Hair (and sudden lack of it)
I grew up in the seventies - a decade which, from the present safety-obsessed time, looks increasingly insane.
For example, my parent's gas cooker. This gas cooker was bought as a wedding present, and managed to survive well into the middle of the 1980's, as it was made of armour-like enammelled steel. It was originally designed to run on coal gas, but quite happily accepted a change to North Sea gas when that became popular, due to the fact that coal gas was lethal stuff. North Sea gas was also lethal stuff, but only when you lit it.
At the time, that seemed to be a great improvement.
The problem was, you see, that this was in the days before anyone had thought of building an automatic ignition into the cooker. This meant that you would turn on the gas, then scrabble around trying to find a match, then scrabble round in the matchbox trying to find a match that wasn't three inches of carbon, and then, eventually, light the gas. If you had any sense, you would switch off the gas if you couldn't find the matches, for obvious reasons.
This wasn't normally a problem, unless you had to light the oven.
The oven, you see, was evil.
The oven required that you turn on the gas, and then reach right to the back, and light the gas. This could take time. Sometimes the match would burn out. But however you did it, there would be a certain build-up of gas by the time you had reached back there, and so, if you weren't quick enough, you'd be subject to a very quick, but efficient, hair-removal process. If you were slower than most, you'd not only lose it off your arms, you'd lose eyebrows and eyelashes. Amazingly, none of the artificial fibres that seemed to be in vogue ever caught fire or stuck to our skin : although I did once experience a backflash that made a particularly cheap school shirt turn from white to ever-so-slightly yellow around the cuffs - which subsequently parted company from the arms later that day.
These days? I cook electric. Say what you like about it, I still have most of my hair, and I intend to keep it that way.