Bottles at dusk
Now is the time of year that a familiar debate reignites in our household. No, it’s not: ‘Is it time to turn the central heating on?’ Rather, it’s: ‘Hot water bottles versus electric blankets’.
In the blanket corner, or rather bed, is our daughter. Some ten years ago she bought herself one and she hasn’t looked back. This, the girl who goes to sleep with her window open even in the coldest clime, is to be found rolled up – literally – in her electric blanket as soon as she possibly can at night. She can’t, for the life of her, work out why I don’t follow suit. Why wouldn’t I want constant, measured heat in my bed, she asks?
The answer is simple: because different parts of my anatomy feel the cold more than others. I know I’m ill because my nose will be cold. Yes, I’m hardly likely to put a hot water bottle on my nose, but if it is cold, the chances are that my other extremities are, too, and there’s nothing quite like a hot water bottle to warm up the feet. The other part that can wake me up if it gets chilled is the base of my spine. I did find an alternative solution to a bottle. I can remember being teased unmercifully by the other dames in my youth when I would bring back what seemed like adult babygrows from the States – although some forty years on they’re now called ‘onesies’. But who wants to get undressed in the dark to go to the loo? And I also get too hot in them.
I also remember horrifying tales told by my husband of how he set fire to his bed when getting tangled up in an electric blanket in his youth, although daughter says this couldn’t happen now as they’re made differently.
Anyway, she’s now threatening to get me an electric blanket for Christmas, so I’m trying to come up with a decent list of reasons as to why she shouldn’t. Here goes:
- Hot water bottles are cheaper to buy, and to run. They are often considered the ‘greenest’ way to provide extra warmth on cold nights.
- They’re safe for all ages (unless they leak) and come in all sorts of plush covers. My current favourite is Tigger.
- They’re really good for tight muscles, joint pain and headaches.
- The heat can be focused on one area at a time.
I like to feel I’m upholding a tradition: after all, my hot water bottle is just the next stage on from warming pans, and stoneware versions. Or it could be, as hinted at by my search for the perfect Wellie, that I have a rubber fetish. Because yes, it was good old Charles Goodyear, again, who got the ball rolling with the invention of vulcanised rubber. Quite apart from proving the ideal material for tyres and footwear, rubber also proved the perfect medium to contain hot water and transfer heat directly to source.
If you’re interested, the ‘Termofor’ rubber hot water was patented in 1903 by Slavoljub Eduard Penkala (April 20, 1871 – February 5, 1922) a naturalised Croatian engineer who happened to be a serial inventor. Many thanks, Slav!
So as we start to pen our Christmas lists, I can imagine only one thing that’s better than a hot water bottle: it’s two. If you’re listening, Santa, I promise to be good!
Postscript: why, says daughter, should the two be mutually exclusive? Could she be trying to electrocute me, too?