I entered a forgotten world today. Cleaned out a small cupboard that has not seen the light of day for about ... erm... six or seven years. Yes, I'm embarrassed (my mother had the house clean by ten am every morning), but not enough to stop telling a good story.
Being the handy place where odd things are put when visitors are coming, I found some unusual bedfellows.
One half-bottle of shoe dye, a light fitting, two tapered candles with price (2 for $1), a feeder for a bird-cage, five small magnets, a piece of emu egg, a 'Lakeland' colour pencils tin with a sail needle in it, a plant label (African violet), two champagne corks, a children's book "Anthony Ant's Creepy Crawly Party" (look under the flaps), a plastic tap for the rain-barrel (wondered where that had gone) and a box with pop-up mice.
But the last things date back a long way. They have been in the cupboard for at least 15 years, because they were left there by the previous owners of the house. I bought the sideboard with the house, you see.
This last collection, wedged at the back, consists of an assortment of plastic jars containing powdered iron, magnesium, tin, sulphur and zinc, and potassium nitrate. These were gathered together for the express purpose of throwing on outdoor fires at parties to make people go "Oooooh" and "aaaah". (The previous owners had lots of very exciting parties). The sulphur and potassium nitrate only needs carbon (readily accessible from up the chimney) in certain proportions, to become gunpowder. I remember that, because my incredibly trusting parents allowed me to have a laboratory in our (very large) laundry, and I used to send away for all kinds of stuff.
I know this information will make my three offspring grind their teeth, because I forgot all about the chemicals. What larks they could have had. Sorry fellas.