Down in the country this weekend where I had a read of the local paper, The Wilts and Glos Standard. This is what appeared in last week’s ’100 Years Ago’ feature:
Saturday October 26th 1912
Effigy burning. On Thursday of last week some of the villagers of Siddington, among whom was a preponderance of women folk, marked their disapprobation of the supposed ill-conduct of a man towards his wife by burning his effigy within sight of his abode. On Saturday an attack was made on the individual in person, who narrowly escaped being tarred and feathered and ducked in a pool. As it was, his clothes were torn, his bicycle destroyed and daubs of tar sprayed on him before the police escorted him to safety.
I know we’re not supposed to approve of mob justice, but, my word, how satisfying that must have been for the preponderance of disapprobating women folk.
On these pages we recently pondered the decline of Guy Fawkes Night vis-a-vis Halloween. Perhaps we could put an effigy of Jimmy Savile on this year’s bonfire?
When I was a youth growing up in the Cotswolds I did find the local girls quite intimidating, and I don’t think I was alone.
When we went out on a weekend night there was a segregation of sexes – the young women would sit around a pub table, whilst the young men would congregate around the bar. The lack of interaction between the groups would later continue on the dance floor, apart from the odd glance and comment. Things only really got going when a slow number was played just before closing time, during which, for the lucky, some frantic snogging would ensue.
Looking back, I’m sure this was a major reason there were so many marketplace punch-ups after closing time. Sexual tension would have built up to almost unbearable levels in the course of the evening, and if you’d been deprived of the thrill of a snog, a good second best was to be found in the adrenalin rush of a barney.
I used to enjoy reading The Standard whenever I came home as it was a good way to keep abreast of the doings of school friends. A handful would regularly be up before the magistrate for various weekend misdemeanours. Once we’d reached a certain age, it was those of my sister’s generation who hit the headlines.
Nowadays, I don’t recognise the names (unless it’s the son of one of my contemporaries). Despite the reluctance of the sexes to talk to each other people did manage to marry, and even have kids. This sort of thing eventually sorts out all but the most committed hooligan.
Recent Dabbler Diary items may have left readers knowing more than they would wish about the habits of The Dabbler’s editorial board. But our masthead claims we’re the blog for connoisseurs of everything so it would be wrong to feel inhibited about sharing further.
Discussions at our recent editorial conference touched on the subject of how frequently members of the Editorial Board showered (severally rather than jointly, for the avoidance of doubt). Agenda-wise, I think it came under AOB.
I was the only one of four who showered every other day, the rest doing so every morning. As the other members of the Editorial Board are more or less quite normal in many respects I suspect this habit may be widespread.
Have you all gone mad? It’s not as if most of us are getting dirty or sweaty at work. Or that we’re short of anti-perspirant deodorants. Under these conditions even my bi-daily shower would have been seen as excessive by a previous generation.
We have a very fat civilisation and it’s also neurotically clean.
The village pub was on fine form on Saturday night, what with Gloucester winning against the much-disliked Leicester (in truth, the jollity probably had more to do with the round bought for everyone by a rugby-loving member of the local squirearchy). A local lad, Henry Trinder, happened to be playing.
The name Trinder rang a bell – what was ‘Trinders’, we wondered? A shop. But what sort? It eventually came: Trinders was a tiny tobacconist, next door to Scotts, the gentleman’s outfitters on Castle Street (still extant).
It was a narrow box of a place, possibly panelled. A glass-topped counter ran along the back with lots of little shelves and cubby-holes on the wall behind. I never used it for more than buying the odd pack of stubby Embassy’s but I always admired the window with its array of smoking paraphernalia. I particularly recall the wooden pipes, long fluted ones, short gnarled ones, all splayed on stands.
Paraphernalia is a lovely word, which describes a lovely thing. There’s something very satisfying – to a man, at least – about owning a set of specialist tools. For some reason the pleasure increases if they give the impression of being carefully crafted.
A friend of mine took up cigar smoking just so he could start collecting and deploying paraphernalia (he gave up as he couldn’t stand the taste and the smell). Whilst few of us would go that far I do think many of us miss the sort of manly paraphernalia that might accompany a smoking habit.
Which is why I think the introduction of electronic cigarettes could be interesting for the paraphernalia fan (paraphernaliac?). These things have a fixed delivery mechanism but can be inhaled through just about anything. They also have various bits that require storage. It’ll surely be no time before a new e-smoking paraphernalia industry comes into being, probably upmarket and craft-led. Here’s one of the first movers: artisanal Corn Cob Billiard e-pipe anyone?
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