how not to cure hiccups

Magazine publisher, Thomas Gibson Bowles, was widowed in 1887, and left to raise four young children.

Thomas Gibson Bowles found here

Health, he decided, was the most important thing. Bowles had studied some statistics that suggested that Jewish children were less susceptible to disease than others. From then on his children were fed according to strict Mosiac law. The dressing of girl children seemed to him an unnecessarily complicated matter, so he decided to have his daughters outfitted by the naval tailor who made his sons’ clothes. As a result Sydney and Dorothy Bowles wore only thick blue serge naval uniforms and sailor’s caps until the age of seventeen.

Shirley Temple in sailor suit found here

Cap’en Tommy, as the cartoonists called him, had strict views on the correct way to take a bath. He dismissed the conventional method as merely ‘sitting in dirty water’. Instead, he took steam baths at his London club. When the family went to Scotland on holiday, however, he had to improvise, using some dog kennels in front of the house as a temporary Turkish bath. Bowles would sit steaming inside the first kennel, which had been lined with hot bricks, before emerging into the run where the butler was waiting on the roof of the next kennel to shower him with bucketfuls of cold water. From his position on the roof, the butler could also announce the approach of any strangers whose sensibility might not be equal to the spectacle.

Turkish Steam Bath found here

Henry Ford also had some strange ideas about health

The well known motor manufacturer was obsessed with diet. He campaigned for synthetic milk, insisting that cows were on the verge of obsolescence because they were unhygienic. He maintained that eating sugar was tantamount to committing suicide since its sharp crystals would cut a person’s stomach to shreds.

World’s biggest cow found here

He then took to leaving old razor blades to rust in the water he used to wash his hair because he thought rusty water acted as a hair restorer. And he was such an advocate of soya beans that he once wore a suit and tie made from soya-based products.

Hair Restorer found here

But John “Mad Jack” Mytton probably takes the cake when it comes to strange ideas about health

For exercise he liked to go fox hunting which he would do in any kind of weather. His usual winter gear was a light jacket, thin shoes, linen trousers and silk stockings – but in the thrill of the chase he could strip down and continue on naked. He is also recorded as crouching naked in snow drifts and swimming winter rivers in full spate.

Naked in snow found here

He would get out of bed in the middle of the night, remove his nightshirt and set off completely naked but carrying his favourite gun across the frozen fields towards his lake. Here he would ambush the ducks, fire a few shots and return to bed apparently none the worse for his ordeal. He frequently got up again half an hour later – stripped off and went through the whole process again. His most extraordinary day’s shooting came when he got fed up waiting for the birds to come within range, stripped naked, sat on the ice and slowly shuffled forward on the slippery surface until he was within range. It took over an hour but he never caught a cold or seemed in the least unwell after this or indeed after any of his naked shooting exploits.

image found here

He had a wardrobe consisting of 150 pairs of hunting breeches, 700 pairs of handmade hunting boots, 1000 hats and some 3,000 shirts. He also had numerous pets in his manor. Including some 2,000 dogs comprising fox hounds and other breeds such as gun dogs, pointers and retrievers, his favourites were fed on steak and champagne. Some dogs wore livery, others were costumed.

Dog masquerading as tiger found here

Mytton was also a drinking man and could drink eight bottles of port a day with a helping of brandy. Rather than sit down to a formal dinner every evening he would sustain himself throughout the day with ‘pounds of filberts’ when in season, a type of hazelnut, or dine with his tenant farmers eating full fat bacon and quaffing a quart of ale beside their fire before returning to Halston Hall.

Bacon Beer found here

He married a Baronet’s daughter, in 1818 but she died in 1820. His second wife Caroline Giffard ran away in 1830. His wives bore him children who he would affectionately toss into the air as babies and pelt with oranges.

orange baby monkey found here

During his stay in France he tried to cure his hiccups by setting his shirt on fire. “Damn this hiccup!!” said Mytton “I’ll frighten it away”; so seizing a lighted candle, applied it to the tail of his cotton nightshirt and was instantly enveloped in flames. A fellow guest and Mytton’s servant beat out the flames: “The hiccup is gone, by God!”, said he and reeled, naked, into bed’.

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 7:15 am  Comments (63)  
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don’t play ball with your mother in law

Back in the days when it was freely available, Thallium was known as Inheritance Powder or the Poisoner’s Poison.

Look what Poison did to their hair!

On New Year’s Day in 1988, Abdullah Ali, an Iraqi businessman who had been living in London for eight years, was taken ill with flu-like symptoms and was admitted to hospital. There his condition rapidly deteriorated — his hair fell out, he developed excruciating skin and joint pain, and paralysis and respiratory failure began to set in; 15 days later he was dead.


Abdullah Ali is thought to have been a victim of Saddam Hussein’s secret service, which used thallium sulphate as its poison of choiceFrance also used the poison to kill a guerrilla leader in Cameroon in 1960, and the United States is suspected of using thallium in one of its many attempts to kill President Castro of Cuba. A chemist conceived a plan to poison the Cuban leader by putting thallium powder in his shoes. This method would have caused his hair to fall out, robbing him of his iconic beard, as it destroys hair follicles.

Castro didn’t always have a beard

Thallium was used medically and cosmetically before its lethal effects became known. Though the fatal dose for an adult is 800 milligrams, or less than a quarter of a teaspoonful, 500 milligrams would be prescribed to treat ringworm. Thallium depilatory creams were also popular in the 1930s.


In the 1950s, Thallium was the poison of choice in two high profile murder trials in Sydney.


Perhaps the most well known of the thallium poisoners was 4ft 5″ tall grandmother, Caroline Grills, who killed four members of her family and attempted to murder another three by adding thallium to her home made treats. This sweet looking 63-year-old serial killer was sentenced to life in prison, spending the rest of her days in Long Bay Gaol where she became known by the other inmates as ‘Aunt Thally’.

Long Bay Gaol

The other notorious thallium poisoning was of rugby league star, Bobby Lulham who played for Balmain and Australia. Lulham and his wife, Judith lived with his mother-in-law Veronica Monty, with whom he was having an affair whilst Judy was attending church.


In 1952 Veronica poisoned Bobby Lulham, adding thallium to his mug of Milo. Lulham eventually recovered and Veronica Monty was charged with attempted murder. She admitted to poisoning Lulham but claimed it was an accident, stating she had meant to poison herself as she could not bear the guilt of her illicit affair and the betrayal of her daughter.

Milo and pistachio cheesecake found here

Newspapers focused on the sexual details of this case which acquired colossal proportions because of these ‘scandalous’ revelations. It seems the reading public revelled in the opportunity to gaze into the domestic life of a man they regarded as the ‘average Australian bloke ’, yet whose marital problems and sexual indiscretions presented a very different picture to the expected domestic scene. Women seemed fascinated by the Monty trial and many took a particularly active interest in the case. It was reported that at each day’s hearing a crowd of women bustled into the small courtroom as soon as the doors opened, cut lunches in their string bags, ready to listen to the details of Lulham’s domestic attachments.


Veronica Monty was acquitted of the crime, and a few days later, Judith Lulham filed for divorce. Bobby Lulham’s marriage was over and so was his career with Balmain. He slipped into obscurity and two years later his ex mother in law put a gun to her head in a hotel room.

photo found at joe’sblog

Bob’s got shingles

Lady Walpole was not impressed with the modern woman of the 1920s

“Girls these days are insane, inane, Eton-cropped, useless, idle and mannish. They smoke doped cigarettes, use bad language, wear practically no clothes and are an abomination to their fellow creatures.’


Lady Walpole was not alone in her opinion. And many blamed this change in young women to the rage for short hair.

“While King George took no official position on the controversy surrounding bobbed hair, Queen Mary preferred if ladies with short hair would in some way conceal that fact at court functions or royal ceremonies. Hair additions were commonly used to cover the shingled back. Many women actually saved their long locks just so they could use them over their new haircut.


A teacher in New Jersey was ordered by the Board of Education to let her hair grow back. The Board claimed that women wasted too much time fussing with bobbed locks. Preachers warned parishioners that “a bobbed woman is a disgraced woman.” Men divorced their wives over their haircuts and one large department store fired all employees who had the new cropped styles.


According to an article published in a New York City paper, “some devotees of the hair-bobbed fashion are complaining of ‘shingle headaches.’ ” The medical profession believes this is nothing but a form of neuralgia caused by the sudden removal of hair from the tender nape of the neck, thus exposing it to the blustery winds. In any event, a new medical term — shingle headache — was coined from the bobbed fad.


Young men didn’t fare much better when they started a fashion trend of their own.

“Flannel trousers 20” wide at the base have become the rage at Oxford. They come in startling shades varying from canary yellow to wisteria blue. This announcement was followed by a symposium of opinions from the sort of people who always contribute to symposiums – a bishop, a general, an elderly actress and a Harley Street surgeon. All these persons tied themselves up in knots about Oxford trousers, hinting that they were somehow connected with atheism, effeminacy, the decline of the English theatre and chills on the liver.”

Published in: on November 16, 2010 at 7:19 am  Comments (38)  
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