Robyn Hitchcock

Primitive

Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 – Primitive

My brother’s best friend (he’s really like a second brother to us all) nicknamed us The Primitive Family sometime when they were still in high school. The title stuck and I’m sorry to say, I seem to be carrying on the family tradition.

We earned that distinction by having a number of household appliances that were in sad shape but money was tight, what with six kids to put through college, so we made do. This meant there was a pickle jar holding up one end of a shelf in the fridge. The tv needed time to warm up, five minutes or so, and the knob to change the channels had fallen off. For a while it remained on top of the tv and you would have to get up and put it on, then turn it to your channel and place it back on top of the tv. That last part only lasted until the cat managed to lose it and a pair of needle nosed pliers were left on top of the tv instead.

The record player also needed time to warm up before it reached the required speed. You could help it along by pushing the turntable around with your finger to get it going and then click the switch back and forth from 33 1/3 to 45. Once you had it going at something that looked like 45, you could chance turning it down 33 1/3. If you didn’t wait long enough, the weight of the arm and needle could drag it to a stop. We also became very adept at grabbing records off and dropping them down without letting the turntable stop.*

I’m sure there were other problems with the washer or dryer and let’s not even talk about cars. The car I’m currently driving used to belong to my sister so it’s no wonder that it shares this Primitive Family gene. The rear windshield wiper only works sometimes and only if you click it back and forth from on to spray and back several times. Occasionally I forget that I’ve left it in the on position, after giving up in frustration, only to have it suddenly start moving fifteen minutes later.

This morning I noticed a small hole in the floor in my daughter’s room. A knot in the floorboard had fallen through. I’m not surprised. The house is over 150 years old and the old floors have big gaps between each board, large enough to hold any number of Lego weapons. So I took a cork and shaved it down to fit and lopped off the top. Good as new. That’s actually the second time I’ve made some kind of home repair with a cork. A number of years ago in a terrible rainstorm I plugged up a hole in the basement that was pouring water like a faucet. I took an old baby bib that had a waterproof backing and wrapped it around a cork and jammed it in there. A couple of whacks with the rubber mallet and voila! It wasn’t an elegant solution but it did the trick.

* Not to worry, none of the records pictured up top were played on that old turntable.

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