Monday, 22 January 2007


It’s Monday morning which, when I was young, meant WASHDAY! Nowadays, of course, any day and every day is a potential washday but, back then, it was definitely Monday’s job.

As a kid, I grew up in a cottage with an outside washhouse where my mother did the washing (on a Monday) in a dolly-tub (which had to be laboriously filled with buckets and buckets of hot water) using a posher-stick (as we called it) or (as it’s probably correctly named) posser, which you had to pump up and down in order to provide the necessary grime-releasing agitation!

Here’s a picture of a posser currently for sale on eBay and for those to whom all this is gobbledegook here’s how Wikipedia defines the object:
A posser was historically a tool used for possing or mixing laundry while hand washing it. Possers come in various forms, there is usually a vertical pole with a handle bar at the top but the base can be conical, with three (or more) legs or sometimes a flat disk. As hand washing has been replaced by electric & mechanical washing machines the words & implements have fallen into disuse.
Words like ‘historically’ and phrases like ‘fallen into disuse’ are alarmingly apt to make one feel not so much old as ancient! But that’s how life was in the early 1900s (I jest, of course! I mean the early 1950’s): Monday was washday and Friday was bath-night.

You knew where you were back then! We had clear orientation-points in our lives - which is, maybe, why I never seem to know what day it is anymore!

Anyway, mention of bath-night brings me to the eagerly awaited announcement of---


Here’s a reminder of the picture for which I was soliciting captions - with a new (pretty direct), Valentine’s-Day-cashing-in slogan.

There were twenty-six entries (with a few people - principally David - having more than one go!) and several recurrent themes such as soap, taps, plugholes and, of course, Brokeback Mountain, which probably inspired Ginch Gonch’s campaign in the first place.

Knowing several of the entrants and sharing a bed with one of them, I decided to ask my good friend Polkadots & Moonbeams to do a bit of impartial, unbiased judging from a totally anonymous listing.

I have to say, she laughed a lot at your inventiveness and cheekiness but finally leaned towards those of you who had approached the photo as if there were some logical (as opposed to sensual) explanation!




"I still say some kind of sail would be in order."



"Water shortage? Is that what they told you, too?"


DAVID with:

“If it's going to get across the lake, then we should start nearer the water.”

Well done, all of you! Your modelling contracts with Ginch Gonch should be with you shortly - or even briefly!

And my thanks for all the submissions, which I offer now (in alphabetical order of contributors) for your passing amusement:


"No," he said testily "that's NOT my foot."


"Look, you want water in this bath? You get it. I went last time."

"What do you mean you don't know where you left the razor?"

“I told you, light the fire, move the bath over it; and then get in.”

“You left the towels, where?”

“Now we've opened this tin can, what next?”

"Are you sure you auditioned for Brokeback Mountain?"

“If this is meant to be shelter, I think the other way up would be more effective!”

"Are you sitting on the plug, or…"

“Pah! Agents? They said I'd get a chance to show what I'm made of - useless!”

“I think the director said ‘Show off the briefs’, not ‘Take off the briefs’!"

"Can we just try a Civil Partnership?" [One of my favourites... Ed.]

“If it's not water in the bottom of this tub then why is it distinctly moist?”

“Fine, now neither of us are sitting at the tap end… just how are we meant to get water in this thing without taps?”


“Your big TOE?”

“Never mind Brokeback - it won't be the only thing!”


"I thought YOU had the soap?"

From GILL:

"When I said I liked bubbles in the bath, that wasn't what I meant!"


The guy on the right: "This Brokeback Mountain body-double gig is giving me terrible cramp!"


"Trust ME to get the plug end!"
"Actually, there isn’t a plug!"

"Didn't I see you yesterday at the underpants shoot?”

"You mean I've been out here for three hours, stuck in this, just to become another of Brian's screensavers?" [Another of my favourites... Ed.]


"Water shortage, my a***!"

And, finally, two submissions from ROB that, regretably, were received after the judging had taken place:

Caption: Two men in a bath. Just a thought - or is that too obvious?

Thomas and Tarquin couldn't agree about whose turn it was to get the water from the lake.

One final thought on this curious advertising campaign: I was interested to discover that there is also an alternative heterosexual version of this ad which, unfortunately, I am only able to partially download...

If, however, you go to the Ginch Gonch home page, you’ll find the picture of the lads regularly alternating with this one of a guy and a girl in a tub clearly having a fun time sharing the soap.

In fact, in marked contrast, the chaps look positively UNhappy. So, is this, perhaps, a subliminal “Gay = Unhappy” message - or did they simply think that two men having bath-time larks would be just too shocking for the public to cope with?

Who knows? But the more I look at that picture of the boys from Brokeback, the more miserable they seem to be. Regular reader, JEN, put her finger on it when she wrote to say:

“They don't look any happier than Wilfred Brambell did when he dropped the pickled onions in the tin bath in Steptoe & Son!”

And, as you can see, she is right!!


Scrooge said...

Some excellent entries in your caption competition. I think you have to run these things on a regular basis now !
Feel very old this morning because, I can remember washdays as well. As a young child with an aversion to going back to school after the weekend, I remember my mother was always unable to offer any solace as she faced a day with the dollytub and mangle. "Lets just look forward to Blue Peter" she used to say and with the thought of John, Val and Pete in our heads, we trudged off to our daily toils.

Brian Sibley said...

Oh, lor', yes, the mangle! And that SMELL of boiled washing that seemed to hang about for DAYS - and DID hang about whenever it was too wet to use the washing line...

I smell it every time I re-read some of my favourite books and remember reading them for the first time, sitting by the fire beside the clothes-horses laden with gently steaming laundry...

Brian Sibley said...

My friend ASTRID from Austria, e-mailed to say:

"I was glad to see mama's nostalgic WASCHGLOCKE (="clothes-bell") in your blog! The second name I know is WÄSCHESTAMPFER (= a tool to "stomp" clothing)...

I remember this thing in our family - although I don't remember mum using it...

I am sure it could still be found somewhere in the weekendhouse - you know, the one WITHOUT electric energy."

Thank you Astrid. How nice to know that like today's washing machines, the posser was an internationally-known domestic appliance!

Suzanne said...

Yes, I remember a mangle in the cellar of one of the army houses where we used to live... It always fascinated me, but not as much as the old-fashioned MECHANICAL washing-machine standing next to it! And I hasten to add that I'm not actually THAT old!
And I loved the caption comp too! Any time, Brian.

Brian Sibley said...

GILL e-mails:

"Mangles and possers all very well, but what about the blue bag? Anybody else remember that?"

Brian Sibley said...

Yes, but what I never understood is how a BLUE bag made washing WHITE!!

Brian Sibley said...

A belated e-mail PS from the world of JOHN VAN DER PUT:

"My caption would have been 'men, on tap'."


Brian Sibley said...

ASTRID e-mailed to say that on reading her comment (above) she felt a little worried over the phrase about remembering her mother's WASCHGLOCKE but not remembering her mother using it!

Her anxiety was that you might have thought this meant that because Astrid couldn't remember her mother using it, Astrid's mum was, therefore, a lazy, dirty person who never did any washing!

What she MEANT was that she was TOO YOUNG to remember having seen her mother use it...

OK? Now I can face Adstrid's e-mails with a clean conscience!