Indifferent fish and smeared guns, avoid excitement…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s wrinkled old black and white snapshot is the one of me and Hedy Lamarr in a Hollywood bar – you can see she’s becoming angry trying to get me to understand frequency hopping. (HL)
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This is another of my musty old junk shop books. Yes, it is definitely musty – I just opened it up and sniffed into the pages for you dear reader, to make sure that I wasn’t about to inadvertently lead you up the garden path. It may be musty, but it is also pithy – musty and pithy, is what this volume is. (Do you like today’s old-fashioned prose style?)
The tatty broken-spined book in question is the Daily Express Enquire Within from 1934, it hails from Daily Express Publications, London. Would you like to see a photograph showing the title page before we proceed?

This book has everything in it!
Well, everything that a nice middle class family living in the UK in the 1930s should have readily to hand; from dealing with troublesome servants, to the avoidance of carriage accidents, to preparing a nice gigot of mutton for dinner.
Across the head of each page are some words of wisdom or a proverb – I will include some of these with today’s selection:

Page 10. (A wise physician, skilled our wounds to heal, is more than armies to the commonweal.)
Mackerel must be perfectly fresh, or it is a very indifferent fish; it will neither bear carriage, nor being kept many hours out of the water. The firmness of the flesh, the clearness of the eyes, and the general brightness of its appearance, must be the criteria of fresh mackerel. If the gills are not red the fish is stale.

Page 443. (Play not with edged tools.)
Vaseline for the Household. – it is an excellent anti-corrosive, being an efficient protection against rust, when smeared over guns, bicycles, arms, knives, tools and steel goods of any kind. A high quality boot and shoe paste is prepared from it, which renders boots and shoes absolutely waterproof, and over which ordinary blacking may be used to produce a polish.

Page 14. (If you want a thing done, do it yourself.)
Lamb.– is cut into fore quarter and hind quarter; saddle; loin; neck; breast; leg; and shoulder. Grass lamb is in season from Easter to Michaelmas; house lamb from Christmas to Lady-day.

Page 280. (Let truth be our guide.)
Faintness.– Effusion of cold water on the face, stimulants to the nostrils, pure air, and the recumbent position; afterwards, avoidance of the exciting cause. Avoid excitement.

Page 439. (At night, nature is in mourning for the loss of the sun.)
Honey Soap. – Cut thin two pounds of yellow soap into a double saucepan, occasionally stirring until it is melted, which will be in a few minutes if the water is kept boiling around it, then add a quarter of a pound of palm oil, a quarter of a pound of honey, threepennyworth of true oil of cinnamon; let it all boil together another six or eight minutes; pour out and let it stand till next day. It is then fit for immediate use.

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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14 Responses to Indifferent fish and smeared guns, avoid excitement…

  1. Jheron Bash says:

    Don’t you just hate an indifferent mackerel?

  2. Dana Doran says:

    Oh, was it the Rainbow Bar and Grill? I used to love going there….passed David Bowie and his then look-a-like wife on the stairs one evening trying to sneak into the VIP room upstairs…you could have been sitting at the bar with Heddy, was it ‘72 or ‘73?

  3. Faintness – stimulants to the nostrils. That reminds me of a family member (female) who would waft smelling salts around her nose constantly (being in a state of near faint like a perpetually alarmed Hyacinth Bucket). A little round brown bottle with cotton wool stuffed in it to stop the granules coming out. Foul smelling thing it was – damn near blew up my nose when I tried it as a child!

    • Dave Whatt says:

      I’m so sensitive, I need one of those – where do you get them Scribby?…

      • Well I had a little google around, and apparently they have been withdrawn from sale in the uk due to their high ammonia content. Bodybuilders use a version of them (why?? I have no clue), but I think you might have to make do with some other robust smelling foulness. Or waft a fan about your face to circulate the air. Or simply avoid excitement….?

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Do you think a bottle of HP Sauce would work just as well? I might have one of those at the back of my kitchen cupboard. I’ll give it a try and let you know…
        I can’t give up the excitement Scribby.

      • Hmm HP Sauce…..well I suppose if you insist on keeping up with the excitement, I think smearing sauce over your nostrils might just work to ensure you remain focused enough to enjoy life without fainting around. Doubt you would get many people sharing your joy, mind you, but still…… 🙂

      • Dave Whatt says:

        I think I’ll give it a try – I’m so excitable!…

  4. ktz2 says:

    The lamb section is really antiquated, yes ? I’ve never heard of grass lamb vs house lamb, Michaelmas or Lady-day.. I feel like I’m having a peek into life 500 years ago or something.

    • Dave Whatt says:

      ‘House lamb’ I’ll bet they had a very cute lamb running around the house like a cat or a dog, and then when the time came, they killed it, cooked it, and ate it…
      I’ve heard of ‘Michaelmas’ and possibly ‘Lady-day’, but I don’t know when they are – it’s something to Google later…

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