Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Box of Delights

'The Box of Delights' by John Masefield is a 1935 children's classic. It has been reprinted many times with different illustrations and its 1980 televised version became a TV cult classic in its own right. John Masefield was an English Poet Laureate, and although the style is very much of the 1930s, it is also beautifully written prose, with elements of poetry.

Here is my daughter in Christmas 1981 opening her very own 'box of delights'. The picture is a family favourite as it encapsulates the sheer joy of a four year old girl opening her presents on Christmas morning. There were more delightful boxes to be opened that day but none seemed to match the pleasure that this box of Lego Fabuland could bring. This was the hospital set with its buildings and cartoon animal characters. My daughter spent many happy hours playing with it and eventually it was passed on to my son's twins.


And here they are with another 'box of delights'.

This box is obviously not the original container of the farm models, which were collected over a number of years on a weekly basis with pocket money. How do I know this? Yes, you've guessed it, these were my very own delights, the Britains Farm set from the 1960s. They were played with by me, added to in the seventies by my own children, and now give pleasure to my grandchildren; what could be more delightful than that?

Our photo prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday challenge was a worker in a cardboard box factory.


As a student I worked in the Boots Company printing works in Nottingham in the early 1970s. Unfortunately I have no images, nor could I find any on the web. I do have my memories of some of the jobs we did. As well as printing cardboard packages, we produced flyers, posters, patient information leaflets to insert in drug packets, labels for the many Boots products and the famous Boots Diaries. The latter were a favourite amongst the students as we often worked together as a team on the production line. One of the jobs was simply to insert the little pencil in the spine; do diaries come with pencils these days? I don't know. We would often be so busy chatting that it wasn't unknown to send a whole set down the conveyor belt without the pencils! When we left at the end of the six weeks a parcel of the various diaries would be given to us, the favourite being the giant Scribbling Diary'.

I only worked in there one year; the other summer holidays I was employed at the Boots vast factory plant at Beeston, in the building called 'Pastes'. The pastes were filled in their individual containers, checked and packaged in boxes all on one conveyor belt. It was one of the most mindlessly boring and repetitive jobs I have ever done. I remember 'Horses' Cough Paste' and 'Piglet Anaemia Paste', but also 'Udsal Cream' for protecting cows' udders from cracks and mastitis. It contained lanolin and my hands had never been so soft!

For more delights unboxed clock in at Sepia Saturday where Alan is the overseer and others have been busy on their own production lines. You may like to join us in our Facebook Group, where we also have a productive and delightful time.

25 comments:

  1. Absolute adore The Midnight Folk by John Masefeld, one of my very favourite childrens books! I will have to take a look at The Box of Delights!

    Jem xox

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  2. Kids, small and large, like boxes and some jobs rally require the brain to be dislocated before work commences

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  3. Kids concentrating on the games they are playing always stand out for me. Your lanolin comment reminded me of a summer job baling sheep fleeces which we had to tread down in the big bales - I had soft legs as well!

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  4. A box of delights -- love that expression. It sounds like it should be a box of candy. I think it's wonderful that your children and grandchildren have played or are playing with your toys.

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  5. I wish I was young again and could play with my box of toys. Life was so uncomplicated and exiting.

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  6. I like how you went in and out of the box on this week's theme. I also know myself how wonderful that Lego box was! Always a fan and still building them with the grandchildren now. Although my daughter still a Lego fan too, now with her daughter. I have a table in my living room that is devoted to lego building and Thomas the Tank Train!

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  7. I agree - it's so satisfying seeing your children delighting in playing with toys that you enjoyed as a child. I've yet to experience the grandchildren bit, but if and when that happens, we'll have to hope that the toys are still in decent enough shape, or meet all the appropriate OSH standards.

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  8. Wow, toys that last generations. Your daughter is joy personified. Love the photo! I've never heard of Boots Diaries; will try to find more of that. Sorry it was a boring job at Boots but those are interesting names of products. I like it when names aren't too 'scientific.'

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  9. I had some temporary jobs doing packaging in factories. I remember using some big stapling machines to put boxes together. The stapling machines were operated by foot.

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  10. Oh, good idea based on the theme. Lovely blog.

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  11. I remember getting increasingly complex Meccano sets each year. In comparison with later designs of construction toys, they were very flexible, but difficult for little fingers to do up the tiny nuts and bolts. I also had Bayko, which was a house building set, where you inserted steel rods into a perforated baseboard, and slid brick-like tiles down between them. Of course, as the truism goes, a lot of the fun for children at Christmas and birthdays is playing with the empty boxes!

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  12. Great photographs. When I look back on those summer and holiday jobs I had whilst at school and university I so wish that I had a small camera with me, such a different world it was then. These modern digital camera phones offer so many more opportunities for recording the passage of ordinary life - I just hope people ensure that the record is saved.

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  13. A box of delights indeed. You reminded my of my own farm set as a child, I always like to see the children's interpretation at Agricultural Shows of miniature farms, complete with plastic covered rolls of hay, not a thing I would have seen in my childhood.

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  14. I like that phrase "box of delights". I wonder what would be in such a box for each of us today? Toys from our childhood? A favorite sweet?

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  15. Great pictures! Before today's prompt picture, I have never thought about shops where boxes are made. It is interesting to learn of your job at the packaging place, Marilyn.

    Kathy M.

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  16. Marilyn, your daughter, adorable, I understand that this is a favourite photo. It would also be a fantastic painting. My grandchildren loved the farm sets too. They mixed the wild and domestic animals together! We see how precious those memories become as older we get. I understand that many production lines have been automated, faster and more accurate!

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  17. There is an image of the printing works outside in 1950's (with trolley bus wires) at http://goo.gl/cnUv1 Picturethepast.org.uk is a good site for old Notts and Derbys images, although free online resolution is poor.(Research by another 1970 Nottingham student!)

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    1. Thanks Nigel, I have looked at that site before but unfortunately all their images are copyright and I wouldn't want to encourage Sepians to use pictures which are not covered by a commons licence or are in the public domain. It's one of he things we have covered a lot in the Facebook group.

      It's always interesting to browse the site though.

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  18. Grammas are tuned into the magic of a box of 'things'. I always had crayons and papers and they were twice as much fun as just laying out. The grands would say what's you got in that box, Gramma?
    QMM

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  19. I was visiting my parents recently, and took the chore to rearrange their garage. Again. Removing one layer of stuff revealed another layer of forgotten storage containers. My dad spotted an old yellow Florida Oranges box and it turned out to be a box of delights. It contained long forgotten ephemera and photos, some going back to his boyhood. A box of memories that entertained him for the rest of the weekend.

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  20. Ha! That old Fairy Liquid TV commercial comes to mind! "Mummy.Why Are Your Hands So Soft.........." :)

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  21. The picture of your daughter opening box box is priceless. I must invetigate The Box of Delights - I only know Masefield for his poetry

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  22. Hmmm I wonder how cow udder cream compares with the highly expensive things you buy in.... well, Boots, I guess! :D

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  23. The best boxes in the world I guess, Xmas gifts!!
    To answer your question if today's diaries come with a pen,
    no, they come with a touch screen...
    ;)~
    HUGZ

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  24. You re-awakwened memories of "Box of Delights" which I had completely forgotten about,though I enjoyed it so much. Your daughter's expression is such a delight, too, and makes the busy Christmas run up so worthwhile.

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