The punchline goes like this; “… and so her very-lovely-and-thoughtful husband bought her set of Propert Swift-Whip egg beaters for her birthday”. The story is; however, somewhat more complex than that phrase alone suggests!
It starts a long time ago when, on the occasion of his father’s early death, a young man, the third son, inherited his father’s repetition engineering workshop in Chatswood. While his employees trained him to be their manager – it was his humility and care for them that won their respect and loyalty. One of the regular orders they filled was for the Propert company, small components of their Swiftwhip egg beaters were formed by the metal working machinery in this factory.
The manager was my grandfather, my grandfather who would come home to his big, busy family, his hugs sprinkled with brass splinters as he helped with homework, dinner and bath time. The Swiftwhip egg beaters in our kitchen at home are not only good quality, but they stir up my mum’s memories of a happy childhood, her family and a dad who came home smelling of engine oil. When we cook together, using the beaters, she often shares these stories from her past with me. Especially now that my grandfather is no longer with us, I had begun to think that I would like a set of beaters for my kitchen, to share in this aspect of my family history. I didn’t think I had verbalised this wish until a weekly uni writing task required reflection on a food or drink related artefact and I based my work on the beaters. I shared the task with my husband and my mum, who read it to her mother. Mum and Min were especially enthusiastic, helping me to get the details right – it was special that I had the opportunity to write about something (and someone) so dear to them.
Whether or not I had voiced my interest in finding a Swiftwhip beater set before, at this point, everyone (it turns out), including me, had tuned into my interest. You can imagine my delight then, when I then discovered a set in a Pop-up antique shop in Geralton just before Christmas. I was thrilled with my purchase but a little hurt that my mum was somewhat reserved in her response – I was hoping for a little mutual celebration. My grandma was much more encouraging, texting me back quickly and asking me a few questions. When I excitedly told my husband, he almost looked disappointed and when pressed, pointed out my mistake. I had, inadvertently, broken the un-written rule of family-Christmas-and-Birthday-gift-buying-and-giving spectacularly! The rule in our family is that you can’t buy something for yourself just before either event because this is the time when when everyone else is trying to find you gifts and you may use up their ideas, or worse, ruin their surprise. Which I did.
What made it worse was that my grandmother had tried to buy a set of beaters for me too, but when Asher also bought some and told my mum, she managed to avert the first disaster by organising Min to give her set to someone else. Either way I would have spoiled the surprise with my spontaneous purchase!
What made it funny was that one of Asher’s student’s had given him something very similar to what I had for him for Christmas (a gift I knew he would love) – so we were both in the position of being a little disappointed that our lovely surprise gifts were both spoiled ahead of time!
In the end, really, the rigmarole has only made my two sets of Propert Swiftwhip beaters more precious. People precious to me had heard my wish for beaters that were precious to my family and now we have some in our kitchen, plus an extra set! I imagine that this story will be told again, over a bowl of eggs beaten for custard or egg-and-bacon-pasta, to our kids in the kitchen. I hope I will be able to hand on a heritage of happy family memories and shared time in the kitchen to our kids too, maybe even some decent beaters as well.