* * *
I hate exercising !
That is not strictly true; I hate taking the time to exercise although, once I start I quite enjoy it. The trouble is that there are so many other things which I would prefer to be doing.
When I was a teenager I noted the corsets which my grandmother felt were a necessity of life and silently vowed that I would never put myself into a position where I had to wear such a garment. Keeping myself in good physical shape seems to me to be the only way to achieve that goal.
What she wore was a contraption called a corselette which was an all-in-one garment which encompassed a bra and a corset in one piece and was held up by the straps over the shoulders and held down by suspenders necessitating the wearing of stockings which, in my opinion, added to the burden. This thing must have been incredibly hot to wear as she was firmly encased almost from neck to knee in it but she claimed that her back hurt if she did not wear it.
Gran claimed that she never perspired and was therefore unable to lose body heat in summer. She used to get progressively pinker and had a hand-held fan with which she fanned herself with vigour. As fans work on evaporation to cool the body I suspect that her claim to never sweat was another of the myths which, I am discovering as I research my family, abounded.
Summers in Adelaide can be very hot and in those days there was no air conditioning to help matters along, even supposing that there had been electricity to run it (see Empowered). Measures were taken to keep the house cool; there was a wide verandah across the front which had been wired in to exclude the flies and which had a brick-paved floor. This was hosed down regularly, more, I suspect for the coolness generated by evaporation than for any considerations of cleanliness. The iron roof was painted silver to reflect the heat from the sun and when this was first done there was a noticable drop in temperature inside the house and on the verandah.
Every door and window in the house was opened up at night to allow the cool air to circulate and someone went around at first light and closed it all up again, drawing the curtains to help keep out the heat of the day. I still equate semidarkened rooms with coolness. My mother and grandmother would sit in the sitting room and anybody who entered would be greeted with the empassioned cry of "Shut the door".
Since all cooking was done on a wood stove the kitchen was like an oven in summer and at some stage a kerosene stove was bought and installed in the laundry. It had four burners which worked on the principle of the Primus stove - kerosene vapour delivered under pressure. The oven sat on top of one of the burners if anybody was moved to bake a cake.
But more terrible than my grandmothers corsets was the maternity corset which my mother kept in a chest in the sleepout. It was pink with numerous eyelets and long pink laces, designed, no doubt, to be adjusted to fit the burgeoning figure as pregnancy advanced. My sister and I used to try it on when we were playing 'dressing up' but were never quite able to work out its mechanics. When my mother was carrying my brother, who is eight years younger than me, it disappeared and I can only assume that she actually wore the thing.
When I was in my late teens, pantihose were invented and for the first time we were liberated from suspender belts, roll-ons and corsets. I find it amusing that suspender belts are back in fashion and considered to be sexy. The trouble is that nobody of the generation which desires to wear them has any idea how to put them on, fastening them over rather than under the knickers. I often wonder what happens when a call of nature necessitates taking one's knickers down, from underneath the suspender belt, only to find that the suspenders and stockings are in the way.
* * *