I don’t have an electric blanket. I happily go to bed and endure a few moments of testicle tightening chilliness rather than enjoy the sublime warmth that copper wiring looped in wool provides. I’m thinking it’s because of several life-threatening episodes that happened to me as a child because of electric blankets. No, I never wet my bed with the blanket on and risked electrocution, nor did my mattress ever catch fire. In fact the electric blanket in question wasn’t even mine. It was my mum’s.
Camilla loves her electric blanket. I remember as a kid going to weddings or Maltese dances and as the clock approached midnight Mum would have a look on her face that suggested we were all about to be turned into mice and pumpkins. “Huq, I forgot to turn on the electric blanket!” she’d exclaim to Dad, fearful of having to endure a marble-cold mattress. We’d get home and my Dad would have to run in the house and turn on the electric blankets in the hope they’d be warm by the time Mum got us to bed, cleaned the makeup off her face with Ponds and a had cup of tea. If it didn’t we’d hear about it.
Ideally she would have remembered and we’d go home with the blankets on No.2 (my favourite setting which gave the bed warm and cool bits). Turning the blankets to No.3 was a no no if we weren’t in the house in case the bed caught fire. No.1 was just stupid.
On normal nights when we were at home it would be one of us kids’ jobs to turn on the blankets. As kids we had a few chores which weren’t exactly a burden. One was to get briquettes from the garage for our hot water service. Another was to get potatoes from the garage – in those days you bought potatoes in a big sack and there was no room inside for them. That was my favourite chore, as carrying the spuds in a basket let me pretend we lived on a farm even the though the garage was just three metres from the kitchen. Another job was to polish the shoes (not just shoes, “de shoes”).
Then there was turning on the electric blankets, which was the easiest of the lot but led to much family torment. As soon as it got dark: “David, turn the electric blanket on?” Mum would ask nicely with a typical Maltese upper inflection.
“OK Mum,” I’d say out loud, before whispering to myself “just after I get through this level on Missile Command.”
Later that evening we’d be in the lounge room, one happy family. Mum would be sewing, me and Dad laughing at Benny Hill, Anton would be slumped in the beanbag near the stereo with headphones on listening to ELO, and my sisters would be quietly pretending to play with dolls but all the while planning new ways to ruin my life. Then we’d all go to bed, all happy, fed and washed.
My restful demeanor turned to concern when I noticed my electric blanket wasn’t on. Then it would be one of horror when I realised it was my turn to turn the electric blankets on. Then, even before I had time to break into a cold sweat, I’d hear it: “Huq, Allah! DAVID!”
When I said I’d never wet the bed with the electric turned blanket on, it was only because I hadn’t done the latter.