By: Blonde Two
Bed rolls are, I imagine, a thing of the past; but those of you who, like me, were Guides (then Girl Guides) and Scouts in the 1970s will remember that sleeping bags were not what they are now and that the recommended camp bedding system was the bed roll.
Wrapped in an ancient ground sheet and tied with rope, my bedroll was so capacious that it was a bit of an embarrassment; an embarrassment that is until bedtime when I was the warmest and comfiest of all of my patrol.
Mum constructed the bedroll and it was a design that had been crafted by her own Guiding experiences. First a large, thick cream blanket, folded in such a way as to provide two layers underneath and one above. Inside that went my sleeping bag (nylon and a toenail catcher) and this outer package was fastened together with some huge blanket pins (like large safety pins, I wonder if they still have a use today).
This sounds pretty cosy doesn’t it! It was certainly a weight to heft around, and not yet complete. La couverture de la resistance was a purple airtex blanket (twin sister pictured still alive at Dad’s house) sewn into a bag and placed inside the sleeping bag.
We think that we have got camp sleeping sussed these days with our goose down and our silk liners, but we really are just reinventing the wheel. I would love to introduce Big Orange (sleeping bag) to his cumbersome predecessor. Interestingly, I used the pictured pink blanket under a duvet on a chilly night at Dad’s last week. It was very cosy and I am seriously considering revisiting that element of my childhood camp bedroll.
Hey, a pretty lurid colour. Previously I’ve only seen that shade of pink on the lips of girls who were mysteriously described as “no better than they should be” or perhaps “ought to be”. It doesn’t really matter since I’ve never understood the phrase.
Though I recognise you used it unspecifically airtex (spelt Aertex if I remember correctly) was a form of shirting – cellular in appearance but, given that the weave was much smaller, hard to detect whether it followed the same principles as the cellular blanket. I get the feeling (a) it was quite expensive, and (b) it was intended to control the effusion of sweat. Difficult to convey that idea in the prissy advertising of the time. I’m probably quite wrong about all of this and in any case my reasons are merely those of an irritating Ancient Mariner coming upon a word that belongs to his personal Dark Ages and wishes to give it a quick trot round the paddock. Yes, yes, but mixed metaphors are OK if, in all else, one’s past it.
My father in law was a fan of Aertex (??) shirts. He had several, they appeared to last for decades and he even wore some of them beyond that. You will both maybe be surprised to note that blazers are currently de rigueur in schools that have rebranded (a foul word) because of (or trying to imitate) academisation (another foul word that will hopefully pass out of government policy before it enters the OED). The students like the blazer pockets but get very hot and sweaty!
….we had purple lanaircell blankets too (not sure how they spelt themselves. They were the descendants of the blue ones Starfire and I had as children (on our horsehair mattress, wire framed Vono beds!) Blue Aertex shirts were our Primary School uniform introduced some time after clothing coupons ceased. Now who’s going back to the dark ages, Roderick Robinson? !!!!
B2’s GM: The war (that’s WW2, not WW1 or the Boer war) was only just over when I left primary school and sneaked into a fee-paying grammar school which allowed me to avoid taking (and almost certainly failing) school certificate. A blazer was mandatory, there was only one source in the city, prices were high. Within two or three weeks I’d torn a great L-shaped hole in the back of my blazer and closer inspection suggested this was not surprising. The material was clearly shoddy – that’s not a qualitative adjective but a genre of material made from recycled textile waste in the nearby town of Batley. Clothes made up from shoddy had a life expectancy similar to those tailored from spider’s webs. That was my first and last blazer.
Which suggests my Dark Ages may reach further back than yours. But you have rung a bell. Yes Aertex shirts did form part of the uniform at certain schools so Aertex can’t be expensive.
I applaud your determination to evoke the past via the medium of brand names (eg, Vono beds; were there any others?) as if you were embarking on a prequel to the James Bond series of thrillers. Quite recently I discovered that the brand name for Eucryl – a gritty powder for cleaning teeth – still exists. Although you are clearly younger than me we may – more or less – belong to the same era and you may be undergoing the same tremulous reflections I dwell on in my most recent post: Too many damned questions. If you are interested I live at:
Those horsehair mattresses had one virtue – they didn’t give you back-ache, being nearly as solid as rock! The last of them – an aged and venerable three-quarter – went to the tip when I moved down to Devon, but its successor has only lasted four years; its softness is doing me no good at all! But blazers – I still have a blazer. I can’t get into it – I’ve grown to big round the hips – but it has a most beautiful camping club wire badge on its pocket; the old-style wigwam badge which was abandoned in favour of the modern monstrosity when caravanners took the camping club over and started adding FACILITIES to all the lovely old sites which had just a tap, a dustbin and an Elsan, (or suitable hole dug in the corner of the field.) Those were the days. Those little sites used to charge half a crown a night – two bob if you were lucky. You are lucky to find a site for less than £10 now.
Fashion my shroud out of Aertex,
And carve on my tomb at the apex:
This crusty old Tyke,
Whom few liked to like,
Was simply just paying his ree*-spects.
* Necessary to achieve scansion – poet’s talk and all that muckments.