If I had invested as much time in learning about the mysteries of chemistry as I had in embellishing my lab coat I may have earned myself a Nobel Prize by now. Whitey and I spent many memorable hours together.
Chemistry and I really didn’t connect that well. Which is unfortunate when one is an agricultural science student and required to have a sound knowledge of the inner workings of living things. But that is another story which, for the purposes of this one can be summarised as “C+”.
Whitey was a legend. The corners of his pockets had been eroded by acid burns. He was festooned with a spectrum of colourful reagent stains. The piece de resistance was a tyre mark from a Firestone Cavallino Sport 200 radial that ran the length of his back. In tar. He was just gorgeous.
At the end of my second summer, when I returned home for vacation time, Whitey came too.
Mothers are multi-talented people who are often up for a challenge, particularly when their children are involved. When it comes to hygiene, mine definitely is. It is a gene she inherited from her mother, from whom I learned the Dark Arts of polishing brass, silver and linoleum, as well as the inner nooks and crannies of a Shacklock coal range.
This particular summer my Mum met Whitey. Indeed they bonded strongly. I didn’t know this had happened until my first laboratory session of the New Year. I was stunned. Whitey had been transformed. His sins had been washed away. He was unrecognisable. Not a mark blemished his whiteness. All holes had been repaired. I felt betrayed.
Mum must have spent hours on this task. Litres of cleaning products and many Newton-metres of Elbow Grease™ must have been expended. Procter and Gamble’s development team could have observed a master class of their products in action.
Maybe it was this transition that impressed chemistry department staff more than my academic efforts. I never asked and will never know.