False mushrooms at Mr. So-and-so’s…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle quotation  is from The Adventure of the Dancing Men:
Holmes had been seated from some hours in silence with his long, thin back curved over a chemical vessel in which he was brewing a particularly malodorous product. His head was sunk upon his breast, and he looked from my point of view like strange, lank bird, with dull grey plumage and a black top-knot.
“So Watson,” he said, suddenly, “you do not propose to invest in South African securities?”
I gave a start of astonishment. Accustomed as I was to Holmes’s curious facilities, this sudden intrusion into my most intimate thoughts was utterly inexplicable.
“How on earth do you know that?” I asked.

It’s about an inch-and-a-half thick, about eight-inches by five-and-a-half, bound in a dull red-brown cloth; it’s rather bendy in the hand, not like a proper hardback at all – it is my copy of the Daily Express Enquire Within from 1934, one of my scruffy ‘junk shop books’.

Shall we thumb through and see if we can get a glimpse of the sort of things that occupied nice middle class people in Britain in the 1930s? There are several entries per page and at the head of each page there are a few words of wisdom, or an uplifting proverb – I will include these with today’s selection:

Page 45. (When in motion, to push on is easy.)
To Distinguish Mushrooms from Poisonous Fungi.
ii. False mushrooms have a warty cap, or else fragments of membrane, adhering to the upper surface, are heavy, and emerge from a vulva or bag; they grow in tufts or clusters in woods, on the stumps of trees, &c., whereas the pure mushrooms grow in pastures.

Page 348. (Great talkers are not great doers.)
Addressing Letters.
ii. When the person to whom you are writing or visiting is residing at the house of another person, it is considered vulgar to put “at Mr. So-and-so’s”, put simply “Mr. So-and-so’s”, at being understood.

Page 393. (Every man is the architect of his own fortune.)
Marking Ink.
Dissolve separately, one ounce of nitrate of silver, and one and a half ounces of best washing soda in distilled or rain water. Mix the solutions, and collect and wash the precipitate in a filter; whilst still moist, rub it up in a marble or Wedgwood mortar with three drachms of tartaric acid; add two ounces of distilled water, mix six drachms of white sugar, and ten drachms of gum-arabic, half an ounce of archil, and water to make up six ounces in measure.

Page 413. (That thou mayest injure no man, dove-like be, and serpent-like, that none may injure thee.)
Sweeping carpets.
Persons who are accustomed to use tea-leaves for sweeping their carpets, and find that they leave stains, will do well to employ fresh-cut grass instead. It is better than tea-leaves for preventing dust, and gives the carpets a very bright fresh look.

Page 347. (He doeth well who doeth good.)
Hints on Conversation.
Some persons have a Mania for Greek and Latin quotations: this is particularly to be avoided. It is like pulling up the stones from a tomb wherewith to kill the living. Nothing is more wearisome than pedantry.

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 False mushrooms at Mr. So-and-so’s…

  1. Dana Doran says:

    WELL carpe diem! Oooh, was that pedantic? I’m so inspired….be a snake AND a dove, feathers and scales at the same time. Nothing like a slithering bird I say!

  2. hahahaha!! Yes, I’ll just go grab some grass from the verge and sprinkle it all over my floors. Lovely smell of…..the outdoors! Also the addressing of letters….I always thought putting “c/o” (care of) sounded rather sweet. Because the person you were staying with was looking after you so well! 😀

  3. Jheron Bash says:

    Tempus fugit, innit?

  4. ktz2 says:

    oooh so much here, a treasure trove of fun & interesting stuff in that book ! . . I’d never heard of using vegetation for carpet-sweeping, maybe it’s a European thing ?
    The part about mushrooms reminded me, from my long-ago visit there, that in France the pharmacists are the certified mushroom safety experts. . there are posted window signs of drug stores. That trivia always stuck in my head

  5. ktz2 says:

    were they referring to making a broom or sweeper? because it wasn’t clear

    • Dave Whatt says:

      No, not ‘making’ a broom or sweeper, I think they mean sprinkling used tea-leaves or grass cuttings on the carpet before brushing it – it’s so that the moisture attracts the bits of debris and keeps the dust from rising into the air.

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