Monday, 15 March 2010

Three puzzles

Like all parents with a four-year old I get bombarded with questions. I do my best to provide answers. The experience reminds me of three puzzles of my own childhood, which over time resolved themselves:

1. With, I think, Blue Peter's encouragement we collected milk bottle tops for the blind. I imagined they were used to make special glasses (this may be quite a common misconception - they were, in fact, recycled for money). In a parallel development, birds, such as tits and finches, had started to peck the tops of milk bottles whilst they sat on your doorstep in order to drink the cream. My question was: isn't it dangerous to give blind people glasses that birds will want to peck through in search of cream?

2. The Lord's Prayer contains the request to 'deliver us from evil'. I mondegreen'd it into 'deliver us from the eagle'. I had a vision of a raptor sitting on a gate-post eyeing me beadily. My question was: why does God employ eagles to punish us for our sins?

3. The everyday miracle of Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney pie bothered me. My question was: how is it possible that a pie - something whose very nature involves dryish crustiness - can be produced from a can, a receptacle whose contents are invariably moist and soggy?

I'm not sure why I never cleared these puzzles up through some questioning. Perhaps I thought asking might make me seem naive and that the answer would emerge in good time? I suppose I was right. I wonder what unspoken questions keep my little boy up at night?


For younger readers: this is what milk bottles used to look like. They were delivered to your doorstep daily in the early morning by a person known as a 'milkman' who was transported in a vehicle known as a 'milk float' (so-called as it was a form of hovercraft).


12 comments:

Sir Watkin said...

No, that's what milk bottle look like now. They used to be taller and thinner.

What I miss are milk churns, standing on platforms at the end of a farm drive, and the lorries that clanked along country lanes taking the churns away to the creamery.

Mr Eugenides said...

Being a smartarsey type, I rarely learn anything new early on a Monday morning.

mondegreen, however, is one such example. Thank you!

dearieme said...

"why does God employ eagles to punish us for our sins?"

It's all to do with Santa Claws.

Brit said...

Here in the wilds of North Somerset, where my office sits on a lonely crag, we still have a milkman, with a float, delivering bottles.

Alas, they are the new-fangled bottles as shown in your picture, not Sir Watkins's proper bottles. Nothing can stop the steamroller Progress!

worm said...

wasn't it Prometheus whom Zeus punished by having an eagle peck out his liver on a daily basis?

dearieme said...

A bathroom favourite:-

It's very clear, our loofah's here to stay,
Not just for now, but.....

They don't write 'em like that any more.

Gadjo Dilo said...

When I was a kid I heard there was a large American city called "Ellay" (read it out loud) and, rather than ask, spend ages trying to find it in an atlas.

The country where I live may be shite but, surprisingly, we do still have free school milk.

Gaw said...

An evocative recollection there, Sir W. Do you have fond memories of milkmaids, I wonder?

Mr E: Glad to be of service in refreshing the oft-jaded Monday morning palate.

Dearieme: Stop hawking round your puns!

I'm afraid your second comment is way above my head, though it does sound very good.

Brit: Ah but we try to do our bit, throwing whatever comes to hand beneath its implacable rotating barrel.

Worm: Yes, and I'm very glad I didn't know that when I was four. The eagle was disturbing enough.

Gadjo: Yes I struggled with that one! Thought they were two different places. But I happened to ask about and it and Dad put me right. I felt very sophisticated.

Sir Watkin said...

Ah, milk maids ....

My great great uncle had to marry one in a hurry.

zmkc said...

Re mishearings, we got a dog from a place our youngest daughter always called the Irish PCA

No Good Boyo said...

As a boy I used to hear "Mae Iesu yn geidwad i mi" (Jesus is my saviour) as "Mae Iesu yn geithwas i mi" (Jesus is my slave). My appreciation of Christianity never recovered, and I was banned from ever approaching the bishop again.

Gaw said...

z: Sounds vaguely Fenian!

Boyo: Sounds as if you stumbled across the roots of Hegelian philosophy, you precocious Boyo.