Monday, 26 March 2012

Where There's Brasso, There's Polishing

My mother had, in fact still has, proudly displayed on her mantle piece, two large polished brass candlesticks accompanied by four tiny candle sticks (to hold a candle you might find on a birthday cake). One of my jobs as a child was to polish them. Carefully togged out in old clothes with old rags for the polish, I would get the Brasso out (other brass cleaners may be available) and cover the sticks in polish.  The sticks were them gently polished with a dry clean rag until they shone. 

The pungent smell - the unique chemical smell of the polish was something that I had forgotten until tonight. I have a brass singing bowl and I've had it a while and have never polished it so I thought I'd do the business and be a good boy and clean it up. Polish bought, a clean duster cloth acquired (no rags) and polishing began and hey presto after ten minutes and black hands and nose assaulted with the Brasso smell - a shiny singing bowl. What a great experience, something I've not done for about 40 years.

Early in my marriage I remember having brass ornamental horse shoes and a brass fireside companion set, but they were lacquered, so no need to polish.

Spring is well and truly here and whilst its not set to last with normal temperature returning by the weekend, most of the UK is basking in sun under a high pressure system which is reluctant to clear away. By day temperatures are reaching 20 degrees but by night, fogs appear and this morning, the cars were covered in frost. It's difficult to forget its only March.

The clocks went forward early on Sunday morning just gone and the extra hour on a night is welcome as the grass has had its first cut, the edging has been done, the last of the leaves picked up that have been hiding in the nooks and crannies and the main weeds are now ready for composting.

Now back to the singing bowl. It doesn't play top twenty tunes or hum the Marseilles. It just hums with a most beautiful tone when stroked on the outside rim with the wooden baton, bizarrely called a mallet although it looks nothing like a traditional mallet. The bowl is made of brass. They come in a whole range of sizes and originally were used as bells. They can come the size of a small car down to the size of a small toy car.

Originally from Asia and with a history of around 3,000 years, singing bowls are used to produce a pleasant frequency (they are all different) with which to meditate or simply relax. They are used in many therapies including cancer therapies, stress relief and for post traumatic stress disorder. Musicians use them and in the east, they are used in classrooms. Apparently every Japanese temple has one.

I use mine simply for the pleasure of listening to the sound.

I hope you are enjoying your week so far now the dreaded Monday is now out of the way.

Chat soon



  1. Yes, I used to be delegated to do the brass polishing too when I was a child - that smell brings it all back, doesn't it?

    I must say I do like the idea of that singing bowl.

  2. What a beautiful object, a singing bowl is and you've done a wonderful job cleaning it.

    Talking about smells, my much beloved bought an old car manual from a car boot on Sunday and I said it reminded me of the inside of my father's Humber Hawk. As a child I loved to help my father in the garage when he was working on his cars.

    It's amazing how smells can take us back in time.

  3. Sadly, I was fired as a polisher as a kid for getting bored and sticking my head in a Biggles book, Jag, or Victor comics. Does scrubbing a tin bath count?

    I know that smell, and the black hands well, as I have some old fashioned scales. Brasso lasts absolutely ages :)

  4. Hi Weaver & Jarmara & Wheelie
    I must do a blog on smells. You are all absolutely right. Indeed Weaver, you can get singing bowls for a relatively small sum and they are a talking point and fascinating to use. I loved polishing again - wonderful - smells and all! Thanks for the cleaning comment Jarmara, I'm not a natural cleaner! I think I know exactly what you mean. My dad had an old Ford Corsair and it had red leather seats - once smelt - never forgotten. My hands were jet black Wheelie and had to scrub them with Fairy Liquid - twice!

    XXX to you all

  5. I was polishing some old brass candlesticks that my grandfather brought back from India circa 1908. They didn't come up very shiny except in one or two spots. They seem to have had a lacquer on them, but no real clue as to whether they did or not. Of course I didn't have good old Brasso. My grandmother used to clean the brasses at St. Peter's Church, Bushey Heath. Every Friday she would toddle off down to the church to take care of it.

  6. Hi ChrisJ
    Great memories, thanks so much for sharing.