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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The bedside clock to top all bedside clocks

If I ever needed to wonder about the depth of my wife's love, all I would have to do is look at the way she has indulged my my gadget habit throughout our married life.  Oh sure, we've had to implement some guidelines on how much I can waste spend before requiring her informed consent... but her patience with my addiction has truly been admirable.

The latest bout of indulgent eye-rolling on her part came after I finally found the perfect replacement for my bedside alarm clock (which long time readers may recall was pitched across the bedroom after an unacceptable record of unreliability).

For many months I relied upon the tinny alarm on my cell phone and on our youngest child's frequent pre-dawn visits.  But there was always the sense that I would have to find something new for my bedside table.

I'm not sure exactly how the topic came up, but one day during my commute home from work, one of my regular carpool mates (known here on the blog as 'British Academic') mentioned in passing that once upon a time, many well-appointed English homes had a bedside contraption known as a 'Teasmade', manufactured by a company with the unlikely name of 'Goblin'.

Simply put, this was a bedside alarm clock that had an electric kettle for boiling water and a teapot into which the hot water would be sent... allowing the well-rested owners to wake at the hour they desire to a ready made 'cuppa' without having to venture out of their bedroom.

I have no idea why this concept appealed to me to the extent that it did... but within a few days I found myself searching the Internet for more information about this unlikely device.

As several commenters mentioned on Friday's post (which featured a picture of a Teasmade on my beside table), the Goblin Teasmade is a bit of an anachronism in today's busy world.  Once upon a time it was ubiquitous amongst English newlywed's presents, much as fondue pots were once all the rage for U.S. couples.  However, like fondue pots, people continued to give Teasmades as gifts long after they were truly appreciated by the recipients.

Sadly, the Goblin company ceased manufacturing these handy devices many years ago.  Some say it was the high speed electric kettle that did them in... while others say that better designed products like Mr. Coffee and other hot beverage devices with built-in clocks were to blame. 

Whatever the case, at some point a couple of decades ago, the very civilized idea of a drinking quiet, private cup of tea before leaving the comfort of one's bedroom gave way to frenzied morning routines, rushed tea or coffee in the kitchen and early commutes.

Of course, this didn't dissuade me from trying to find a Teasmade for myself.  If anything, it encouraged me!

After reading about them on a wonderful site devoted to these 'Tea Wakers', I realized that there must be literally thousands of these floating around on eBay (especially on the UK eBay) as people continued to mine their attics and garages for things to sell on-line.

Sure enough, there are plenty of these treasures still for sale at reasonable prices (i.e. well below my 'ask Zahava' threshold'.  I was lucky enough to find one which had been received as a wedding present back in the 1970s and promptly tossed into a storage room with the rest of the couple's unwanted gifts.  All I had to do was replace the UK plug for an Israeli one and 'Bob's your uncle', I was in business!

I knew that with our porcelain sinks and tile floors, the weak link would be the ceramic teapot (since breaking this relatively fragile item would render the entire enterprise moot).  So I ordered a few spare teapots from a reliable source in the UK that seems to have stocked up when the Goblin company stopped production.

Here on our windy hilltop in Gush Etzion, the mornings are still quite chilly.... even in mid May.  So I've enjoyed being awakened to the soft gurgle of the tea kettle and the aroma of blueberry tea at least once a week.  But soon the summer will be upon us and I will likely only use the robust (meaning; scary loud!) buzzer function to wake me up in the morning.

However, as sure as cool autumn is followed by frigid winter here in the rugged Judean hills, I know that my trusty Goblin Teasmade will be pressed into daily service once again. 

Let the cynics laugh at the anachronism sitting on my night table.  Let my lovely wife roll her eyes.  Come September I imagine she'll change her tune when she's handed a hot cup of tea while still nestled comfortably in bed... as illustrated in this fetching 1970's-era ad:

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For more information about these quirky devices and their history, I highly recommend visiting www.teasmade.com

Posted by David Bogner on May 18, 2008 | Permalink

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Good for you, Dave!! So glad this makes you happy...

And I love the phrase "Bob's your uncle". Makes me laugh.

Posted by: Baila | May 18, 2008 1:37:43 PM

Damn your wife looks good!

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | May 18, 2008 5:34:30 PM

Okay, Jordan.... now I really am rolling my eyes! ;-P

Posted by: zahava | May 18, 2008 5:45:11 PM

Zahava, you need to do something about that wallpaper. :)

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 18, 2008 6:40:32 PM

Hey, that wallpaper is a memory awakener for many of us with our roots set solidly in the 70's! ;-). You're too much, David... where do you put your book at the end of the night? That contraption is enormous...

Posted by: nrg | May 18, 2008 7:36:42 PM

David, every morning when you recite your prayer that you thank God for not making you a woman, be thankful that he made Zahava and she allows you the pleasure of indulgence, because I can't imagine too many women allowing their husbands to keep that in their bedroom. The unfinished basement is my husband's domain, and if he had one of those contraptions, that's where it would proudly be exhibited. : )

Posted by: jaime | May 18, 2008 8:06:26 PM

And that wallpaper is nothing compared to what we had when we moved into our townhouse. Try silver and black foil wallpaper with side profiles of men and women sporting a shag haircut.

Posted by: jaime | May 18, 2008 8:09:46 PM

Mike and Carol Brady want their bedroom back.

Posted by: Jack | May 18, 2008 9:14:58 PM

"...silver and black foil wallpaper with side profiles of men and women sporting a shag haircut."

Ha ha, jaime; there is no such thing! You kidder!

Wow, Trep; you ARE a giver... the missus might be just the person to want one of these thingys... I am off to ask her.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | May 18, 2008 9:20:39 PM

http://www.punchcartoons.com/images/M/1954.09.08.320.jpg

Posted by: Simon | May 18, 2008 11:00:17 PM

Hey hubbie, Wrymouth doesn't believe me regarding the wallpaper - care to add your two cents?

Wrymouth, it didn't end there - one of the bathrooms had maroon velvet stripes (and they had large ceramic clown faces all over their walls - SCARY!!!) We were renting that place and we actually wanted to keep the foiled wallpaper for kicks, but our friend (our landlord who bought the house) wanted it removed so he could paint.

We bought a townhouse in the same development, and though it wasn't as bad as the profiles of the faces, the whole house was covered in wallpaper (hell to remove) and both bathrooms had similar foil wallpaper - but these were Silver and Gold foil with geometric patterns. And yes the stove was, mustard yellow, and two of the rooms had shag carpet.

Hey - buying these townhomes from these old folks was the best deals on the block. Yes the house smelled like mothballs and age, the windows were glued shut because they never opened them (why when you have a/c and heat), your appliances were old as the hills, but all the more fun to go all out and renovate from top to bottom.

Posted by: jaime | May 18, 2008 11:44:00 PM

Yep, the good ol' '70s, the decade that taste forgot. :)

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 18, 2008 11:48:16 PM

Baila... I love it too, but being an American I sound like a total poseur saying it out loud. :-)

Jordan Hirsch... Down boy.

Karl Newman... OK people, all together now: When this ad was published my wife was like 7 years old! Sheesh.

nrg... It's actually not much bigger than a typical clock radio. There is a detachable tray on the front which takes up a lot of room, but it can also handle a book quite nicely. :-)

jaime... I don't see the problem. Water. Electricity. Together within arms reach of the bed. What could be bad?

Jack... Yeah yeah, I got the seventies reference. :-)

Wry Mouth... Just know that you will have to use a transformer for the 220 - 110 issue. But the real problem is that you will have to have an electrician help you deal with the difference in phase (50 vs 60) since the clock won't keep proper time in the US unless that is fixed.

Karl Newman... I don't let people see pictures of me from the seventies. It was a very bad time. [hangs head]

Posted by: treppenwitz | May 19, 2008 9:38:21 AM

David, I have a pic of me in a polyester leisure suit that would make a great blackmail photo. I know how you feel. :)

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 19, 2008 9:48:37 AM

Dorothy Hamill cut anyone???

Posted by: nrg | May 19, 2008 11:15:54 AM

Hey, I liked the Dorothy Hamill haircut. I knew several girls in high school that looked cute with that.

What I don't understand is why men wore mullets in the early '80s.

Posted by: Karl Newman | May 19, 2008 1:42:01 PM

David, you may want to check out a poem entitled "Fruitless Fable" by Muriel Spark, about a man and his Teasmade. (She spells the name of the item as "Teasmaid," interestingly enough. Makes me wonder whether that was the original intent until someone decided that it wouldn't be very PC -- it was the 1970s, after all.) Disclaimer: I haven't read the poem in many years and remember only one major detail that is germane to your new acquisition.

Although I have looked for the poem on the Net, I've been unable to find it. However, I found something that you and some readers here may enjoy: a radio drama adaptation of Stephen Vincent Benet's poem "Revolt of the Machines" from NBC's old radio science-fiction series, X Minus One. It's here.

(The original Benet poem is here.)

Posted by: Rahel | May 19, 2008 2:37:25 PM

Hey Wrymouth, sorry to say -- it's all true! Some of the men on the wallpaper even sported thick mustaches. It looked like it belonged in a barber shop.
-Jaime's "Hubbie"

Posted by: arrrteest | May 20, 2008 1:37:02 AM

I am so getting one!!Hint, hint...significant look at Jordan. Does it boil the water and then pour it on the leaves?

Posted by: Marjorie | May 20, 2008 7:45:02 PM

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