You may wonder and be amazed at why an old woman like me, who lives alone, has such a large collection of fluffy white towels.I would have no problem supplying many stay over guests with towels in an assortment of sizes. Actually, it’s not really all that amazing – we are all influenced and molded by our childhoods. Let me explain:
As I’ve mentioned; dad was a fair but strict disciplinarian. One thing he absolutely insisted on to the point of obsession was truth and honesty. No big deal you may say, all fathers insist on that. Yes, I’ll agree, but see if your memories jibe with mine.
If at any time we got into trouble, did something we were not supposed to do, (in other words behaved like children) and he found out about this misbehaviour then we knew what was coming: Somehow this always seemed to occur “eye-to-eye”. He brought himself down to our level and his first caution was “Look me in the eye! Don’t flinch!” The next forewarning was “If you tell me the truth, and you’ve done something wrong, you will be punished, but if you lie and I find out you’ve lied then . . . I can’t actually remember what the final punishment would be but I know I didn’t want it to happen, because at that point in the warning he would whip off his leather belt and somehow fold it in half then snap it with the most ungodly loud, loud sound!
Don’t be dismayed, I can’t ever recall that belt being used other than as a ‘Sound Prop’, but let me tell you, that sound was very effective and I for one was very afraid it might be used.
The thing about truth and honesty is that it’s one of those things that’s easy to insist on for others but harder to follow for oneself.
Nevertheless, the truth and honesty command extended to all areas of our lives. We were poor, I mean POOR, we lived in a poor area where the temptation to acquire things we did not have by means we should not do, surrounded us.
There were lots of incidences in my young life where I had the opportunity to learn the wisdom of truth and honesty but none more memorable than the affair of “The Towels”.
Mum was definitely aware that we had a great shortage of drying devices; anything that could soak up moisture was pressganged into duty. That’s all fine when you’re in your own home, nobody sees your embarrassment, it’s all part and parcel of the circumstances you live in. The problem arose when my school class scheduled a trip to the local swimming baths for which swimsuit and towel was required. (Don't ask how I got a swimsuit - I can't remember that part.)
I don’t truly know if what transpired and that class trip had anything in common, but somehow the two are intermingled in my memory.
One marvellous day, there they were, thick luxurious towels. Different colours, soft to the touch, folded and stacked on the kitchen table. I wanted to put my face in them. I wanted to drape them around me like blankets. I wanted them.
Then dad came home from work!
I can’t recall the exact words between my father and mother, but surely he must have asked how she came by them, and obviously the answer didn’t sit well with him. He knew we needed those beautiful towels, and I’m sure he would have liked to please all of us, but he also knew that they had been acquired by nefarious means. He issued his order, and the order was that they had to be returned to the supplier!
I think I cried, but not for long. I made myself a vow: “When I grow up I’m going to have lots and lots of towels.”