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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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How to keep well [20080902|18:54]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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On the trip to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, I picked up a little book called How to keep well in Wartime, issued for the Ministry of Health by the Ministry of Information, published in 1943. I've summarized the contents of this fabulous pamphlet for your enjoyment and erudition.

  • Make time for your daily poop. "The first rule of health is to be regular in all the habits of living - eating, sleeping, resting, working, emptying the bowels." (I see one very important item missing from that list, but moving hastily onwards...) "Half the stomach troubles people have begin because they don't give their bowels a chance to open properly after breakfast."

  • Don't be lazy. "Those masses of muscle on arm, leg, thigh, back and belly are not just ornamental. They are there to be used." (Emptying the bowels doesn't count.)

  • Don't be fat. Or thin. "Being too thin is little better than being too fat. In young women, in particular, leanness is no advantage. Unfortunately, during recent years it has become fashionable for girls and young women to be slim, and they usually manage this by eating too little, rations or no rations...Besides giving energy, fat also rounds off the corners of the body and sometimes makes them look attractive." (Ah, so that's what bottoms are for. To keep the pelvis from looking too sharp.)

  • Brown bread makes you strong like bull. "In peacetime people tend to eat far too much sugar and refined cereals (including white bread). Wartime necessities should become peacetime habits...Russians eat black bread, and they're a tough lot." (I bet they poop daily, too.)

  • You're not Mr. Churchill, so don't smoke too much. "King James I said of smoking that it is 'a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible stygian smoke of the bottomless pit'. This was, of course, laying it on a bit thick."

    (There's only one quote sufficiently overblown to counteract King James I. "Three of the four elements are shared by all creatures, but fire was a gift to humans alone. Smoking cigarettes is as intimate as we can become with fire without immediate excruciation. Every smoker is an embodiment of Prometheus, stealing fire from the gods and bringing it on back home. We smoke to capture the power of the sun, to pacify Hell, to identify with the primordial spark, to feed on the marrow of the volcano. It's not the tobacco we're after but the fire. When we smoke, we are performing a version of the fire dance, a ritual as ancient as lightning." - Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker)

  • A Brit without beer is no Brit at all. "In wartime it is inevitable that people should seek relief from strain; and there is nothing to be said against the occasional drink taken in moderation. The world would be a dull and colourless place if it were inhabited entirely by plaster saints eating dry bread and taking sips of plain water."

  • Don a wrap, avoid the clap. "A hospital full of cases of gonorrhea means loss of tanks, loss of aeroplanes, loss of guns." (And that's bad when you're, you know. Fighting a war.)

  • Suffer the little children. "A man skilled in the training of dogs has declared that a dog can be brought up with kindness and that there is no need to beat it. What good can you hope to achieve by physical punishment except obedience inspired by fear? But a long moral lecture may be even more cruel than a quick slap. (Thank goodness my parents were always partial to simply roaring my full name at me.)

  • Immobilize the Germs. "There is an obvious way of stopping germs getting from your mouth and throat into the air around you - and that is to cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief every time you cough or sneeze. To cough or sneeze without doing this is a rude and disgusting habit, and it is amazing how many people, through thoughtlessness, have this habit." (Dear Mike Figgis: Please make a cute poster for London transport addressing this subject, as we appear not to have made any progress since 1943.)

[User Picture]From: chibaraki
2008-09-02 19:35 (UTC)
(Thank goodness my parents were always partial to simply roaring my full name at me.)

I am convinced that the practice of giving children middle names exists for two reasons: 1. to appease elderly relatives without saddling one's offspring with the burden of actually being CALLED Ermengarde or Waltrude, and 2. to provide a clear signal of when one's parents are angry.

I was a pretty imaginative child, so all my parents had to do was call me by my full name and glare at me, and then I'd pretty much self-generate the ensuing berating and they'd send me to my room.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-02 20:44 (UTC)
My parents originally wanted to give me a hyphenated surname. If they had, it would have brought the name count to five, not to mention sounding fairly bizarre (Filipino-German). That's going a little too far, in my opinion.

Did you ever just pre-empt them and run straight to your room? I did that a couple of times before I figured out that it didn't help.
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[User Picture]From: chibaraki
2008-09-03 03:12 (UTC)
I didn't... possibly because I was trying to keep my mom under the mistaken impression that sending me to my room was punishment. Usually she'd send me to my room and by the time I was allowed to come out I'd be sitting and playing quietly, perfectly happy with my lot.
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[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2008-09-02 19:51 (UTC)
Brilliant - thanks for sharing!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-02 20:29 (UTC)
I also recommend Welcome to Britain, the pamphlet given to American service personnel on deployment to the UK.

If I were a Brit, I'd be sorely tempted to drop a shedload of them over West London, particularly Notting Hill, Kensington and Richmond.
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[User Picture]From: sekl
2008-09-02 20:19 (UTC)
So we're all to wrap our tanks then? To keep from losing them?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-02 20:30 (UTC)
I think the best solution would be to coat our service people in latex.
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