‘Enquire Within’ (11). ‘A cast of the fish in plaster’…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s unpleasant and rather graphic 17th c. expletive is ‘Split my windpipe!’. It sounds a bit nautical to me, in the style of ‘Splice the mainbrace’.

Come on dear reader, let’s slip back in time to the year 1934. We are comfortably off, we live in a very nice part of the British Isles, and we are thumbing through our crisp newly purchased copy of the Daily Express Enquire Within. Oh look, I do like that globe motif on the title page, so stylish…

DSCN4009Yes, this is another of my cheaply bought junk shop books. It is packed with knowledge, facts, advice, and everything that could be useful for living a full and interesting life in the 1930s. Let me choose some items from it for you. Across the top of each page there are printed supplementary words of warning, pithy sayings, and a selection of cautionary and uplifting phrases – I will include these in today’s selection:

Page 63. (Half a loaf is better than no bread.)
Seven-Bell Pastry. – Shred a pound of suet fine, cut salt pork into dice, potatoes, onions small, rub a sprig of dried sage up fine; mix with some pepper, and place in the corner of a square piece of paste; turn over the other corner, pinch up the sides, and bake in a quick oven.

Page 343. (Envy is a self-executioner.)
Night Nurseries.
iv. Spring and wire-woven beds are very largely used now instead of laths or sacking. They are by no means expensive, can be easily cleaned, and save the use of mattresses.

Page 155. (For the light of the day we’ve nothing to pay.)
A gambling game much played at French resorts. It consists of a board perforated with concentric circular slits in which numbered or coloured figures representing jockeys on horseback revolve. The players stake their money on a marked board, and horses are made to revolve rapidly. The horse which stops the nearest a marked spot wins, and the player receives so many times his stake. All other stakes are forfeited.

Page 333. (What thou canst do thyself, commit not to another.)
Vapour Baths my be contrived by putting boiling water in a pan, and placing a cane-bottom chair in the pan, the patient sitting upon it, enveloped head to foot in a blanket covering the bath. Sulphur, spirit, medicinal, herbal, and other baths may be obtained in the same manner. They should not be taken except under medical advice.

Page 451. (All is not gold that glitters.)
Fishes. – The preservation of fishes by taxidermic methods is seldom practised now. The taking of a cast of the fish in plaster, modelling in papier-mache, paper pulps, modelling glues, &c., and afterwards colouring by hand are the method now more commonly employed.


About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in archeology, books, expletives, food, history, humour, information, instruction, learning, reading, serendipity, surrealism, words and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to ‘Enquire Within’ (11). ‘A cast of the fish in plaster’…

  1. Page 63 sounds nice, albeit a tad unhealthy…..and I never knew that there was a plural for fish, as in “fishes”. I just assumed it was like the plural of sheep, which is….sheep. Not sheepes, or sheepshees (which when spoken aloud, makes a person sound quite drunk, ha!)

  2. Rebecca says:

    I am tempted by the Seven Bell pastry. Sounds delicious.

    • Dave Whatt says:

      Are you going to make some? Do let me know how you get on with it!… Wonder why it’s called ‘seven-bell’?…

      • Rebecca says:

        I might… maybe, it doesn’t sound too difficult, sort of like a Cornish pasty. I’ll be sure to let you know if I do. The name is a mystery; perhaps eating one would reveal a flash of insight – like you’ll be chewing it until seven bells? 😉

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Aha!I have just Googled ‘seven-bells’ – apparently it is/was a nautical term. A Four-hour watch was marked regularly by the ringing of bells – eight in all. Seven bells has come to mean ‘almost all the way’. Perhaps the pastry is finally using up all of the ingredients you happen to have?

      • Rebecca says:

        Either that, or because they had salt pork and potatoes on board ship and could make an evening meal from it? We may never know… and that’s why speculation is so much fun!

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Of course, salt pork! That’s just the sort of thing they have – they’d start cooking at seven bells ready for when the the lads came off watch… Solved!

  3. That’s my weekend sorted then.

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