Procure a quantity of sprats…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s weather will feature ebullient spheres of white moving in all directions, bright underwear flapping on clothes lines, hawks hovering, goats grinning and nodding, and a spatulate slice of vermilion in the west as evening draws in.

Yes, it’s ‘junk shop book time’ again dear reader! Shall we pluck another volume from the dusty bookshelf – oh, look, it’s the Daily Express Enquire Within from 1934; it’s not in too bad a condition for its age; its pages are nicely yellowed and smelly, and its spine a little cracked and flaky. Here’s a picture of the title page – note the rather nice emblem – so very 1930s…

DSCN4009This book contains everything a nice middle class person living in Britain in the 1930s should know. It is packed with entries on a wide variety of subjects, and it also has, at the top of each page, a proverb or a line of advice for ordering one’s life – I will include some of these with today’s selection.

Page 271. (A contented mind is a continual feast.)
Confections and Electuaries.
Alum confection. – Mix two scruples of powdered alum with four scruples of treacle.
Dose: half a drachm. Use: as astringent in sore throat, relaxed uvula, and ulcerations of mouth.

Page 437. (He that plays with fire may be burnt.)
To Whiten The Hands.- Take a wineglass of Eau-de-Cologne, and another of lemon juice; then scrape two cakes of brown Windsor soap to a powder, and mix well in a mould. When hard it will be an excellent soap for whitening the hands.

Page 95. (You may depend the dustman is your friend.)
To Make British Anchovies.- Procure a quantity of sprats, as fresh as possible; do not wash or wipe them, but just take them as caught, and for every peck of the fish take two pounds of common salt, a quarter pound of bay salt, four pounds of saltpetre, two ounces of salprunela, and two pennyworth of cochineal. Pound all these ingredients in a mortar, mixing them well together. Then take stone jars or small kegs, according to your quantity of sprats, and place a layer of the fish and layer of the mixed ingredients alternately until the pot is full; then press hard down, and cover close for six months, when they will be fit for use.

Page 474. (Cleanliness is next to godliness.)
Psychical Research (Spiritism).
Automatic writing by planchette is another method by which communications from the spirit world are said to be received. Much interest was aroused at the time of the sinking of the Lusitania by the claim that communications had been received from one of the victims before it was know that the outrage had been perpetrated.

Page 55. (A man’s own house is still the best.)
Sheep’s Head Broth.
Get your butcher to split a sheep’s head in two. Remove the brains, and cleanse the head thoroughly. Put the head into a large pan, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Pour off water, cover with cold water and salt, and bring to the boil, adding two ounces of washed barley. When boiling, skim and add a carrot, and a turnip cut into dice and two or three leaks cut small. Season, simmer about three hours.
The sheep’s brains should be soaked in cold water and vinegar to whiten them, and then boiled for ten minutes in boiling salted water. Serve on toast, or make into brain cakes.

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...
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15 Responses to Procure a quantity of sprats…

  1. luke610 says:

    Mmm … brain cakes. How can I unsee this post? Thanks. Not. πŸ™‚

  2. I’m glad I’m Generation X and weaned on yorkshire puddings. Can’t say that brain cakes would have done me any good whatsoever! And as for page 95 declaring that the dustman is your friend, well…. not round here they aren’t! They don’t empty the bin half the time, and if they do they either break it or steal it away “for repair” πŸ˜€

  3. Jheron Bash says:

    Those were the days, eh? Can’t get two pennyworth of cochineal anywhere today.
    Actually, our binmen are very good!

  4. ktz2 says:

    Oh there’s so much here !. . ebullient. . vermillion.’Sprat’ (?) not be be rinsed. . what ? Scruples, treacle.

    That horrible brain dish reminded me of my long-ago visit to France, knowing very little of the language but enough to know some words on a menu. I ordered Beef Something.
    They brought a plate with a whole COW’S BRAIN on it.. WTF, who EATS that for it even to be on a menu…

  5. Claudia says:

    I love old books like that! Except the sheep’s head thing….

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