Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ranger Rose (book #169)

13 February 2020

Cover of Ranger Rose

Ethel Talbot. My edition is 1954, but I think it was originally published 1928. Possibly has been cut.

This is a disability leads to self-renunciation book. I enjoyed it, but it’s not flawless. To take some of the flaws first: it’s too short, at 96 pages. The ending feels rushed and is also more down-beat than I would have liked. There is a missed opportunity to explore Rose’s future plans – for instance, will she work with her unofficial Brownies again? I would also have liked to have seen more use by the People (trippers) of the People’s Wood, once Rose has had her vision of improving it for them.

Interesting aspects include the advice Rose is given at the start of the book by her father:

Rose’s father had served from beginning to end of the Great War. He had lost a leg, too, in his country’s service, and it was partly “not to make a fuss before Daddy” that Rose’s resolution had held firm for all this time. …
“Do you know, Rose, that I’d not change back now, I think, even if I got the chance … I am jolly glad I had the leg when the war came on, you know. Otherwise I couldn’t have fought. And I was jolly sick when I lost it, even though there was only a month of the war to run.”

He gives Rose a copy of the Little Flowers of St Francis and she find her way through service. She is sent to a different, smaller, school, where Guiding is important. There is quite a lot of detail about enrolment and badges.

Fathers, dementia, etc #1

7 February 2020

Ad for Benger's Food: Better health in old age

Ad from The Illustrated London News 11/10/1930.

My title looks a bit like Coffee #1. I don’t think it will take off as a business model.

My father says he “knew a chap once by the name of Brokenshire [as in the local govt minister]. He stole clocks from army accom and sold them to the Germans”. I may have to follow this up.

I am trying to send a thing to his address (my father’s, not any of the Brokenshires) every couple of weeks, as an added contact. He’s moved into assisted living accom which has … not exactly been a difficult transition, but moving is hard at the best of times, which if you’re confused and have strong views on things is not. Logging here that the first was chocolates, the second a book about aviation.

He thinks of writing a novel (he has form in that area) about

an advertising agency that has a contract to promote a dementia charity. Everyone is to some degree potty, and those who are actually demented are not the craziest. Begins when the agency team first meets the head of the charity, who is (himself or herself, not yet decided) crackers in a frantic way … The agency team includes some who are extremely laid back and ironical, others who are plain silly etc etc. Obviously the central idea is that those actually demented can be less mad than the sane. I am quite taken with this, especially since its author is one of the demented, which ought to make it quite saleable …

I don’t know what to say about dementia. It seems to have taken over my life in the last year or so. Which it has not at all; even the fortnightly London trips for research I am sharing with other family members, which makes me exceptionally fortunate. But it is on my mind a lot.

Also, people! Why can they not be better? The staff at the research clinic, which work with people with dementia all the time – why don’t they wear name badges, or remind us who they are? One of the took my father off to a consulting room last time, saying to him as she went “you’ll be very familiar with the environment and process here by now”. No! He has memory loss!

Anyway, rant.

Knitting in Miss Silver Comes to Stay (1951)

25 January 2020

Having fairly recently learnt to knit, I am enjoying picking up references to knitting which were previously lost on me.

It turns out that knitting is the major structural factor in Wentworth’s Miss Silver Comes to Stay. At the first mention of Miss Silver in Chapter II she “closed a capacious handbag upon her knitting” as she got off the train.

Later we are told she has “a ball of pale blue wool from which she was knitting a cosy coat and knickers for her niece Ethel Burnett’s little Josephine. She kept her hands low in her lap, holding the needles after the Continental fashion as she … had been taught by the German mistress, Fraulein Stein, when she was at school. It has the great advantage of making it almost impossible to drop a stitch. It is not, therefore, necessary to watch either one’s hands or the work. Miss Silver rarely glanced at the rapidly clicking needles or the lengthening strip of blue.”

Later on she is “completing the second side of little Josephine’s jacket”. The knitting follows her through the detection, or the detection through the knitting.

the thin strip of knitting which represented, embryonically, the back of little Josephine’s woolly jacket

The two fronts and the back of little Josephine’s jacket having been completed and sewn together, she was engaged upon the left sleeve, for which four needles were in use

She was well away with the second sleeve of little Josephine’s jacket, and hoped to finish it before lunch. She would then crochet an ornamental edging all around and furnish it with bows of washing ribbon, after which she would start upon the knickers

She paused to measure the pale blue cuff, and finding it long enough, began to cast off.

Right at the end of the book, when Miss Silver is explaining the case to the Chief Constable (and her former pupil) Randall Marsh, she completes the jacket:

“Well, Randall, there you have what was in my mind … ”
She cast off the last stitch, pulled the wool through the loop, drew it tight, and transfixed the pale blue ball with the needles she had been using.

“The right thing will come up, I know. I wonder what it will be?”

18 January 2020

The Abbey books increasingly feel to me like a guidebook on ways I might live. They’ve been important to me for years because they deal with stuff that I don’t find elsewhere – daydreaming, friendship, service. I’m increasingly finding messages in the story of Mary-Dorothy. Having just lost my job as she feared she would do in The Abbey Girls Win Through, I need to try to react in the way she does, with some trust.

Anyway. I have been looking at jobs in 1930. The Scotsman has an ad headed “H.M.’s Inspectorship of Taxes, open to ladies and gentlemen, age 21 and under 24 … A real chance afforded to secure permanent first-class Government appointments.” This turns out to be an ad for a college, however, Skerry’s College in Edinburgh, which carries out “expert oral and postal preparation” for the examination.

There is a post for a lady as Principal Warden of hostels for women students in Edinburgh. Pay starts at £400. You have to have a university degree, “give evidence of administrative ability” and have “residential experience in a college or hostel”. The last criterion puts me out, unless they just mean having lived in one.

There is a slightly mysterious ad for a “Lady of initiative and ability for outside interviewing required by a large business house operating among schools and educational institutions in Scotland”. Pay is partly on commission. “Lady without travelling experience might be suitable if other qualifications are satisfactory.” Some sort of sales job, perhaps for a publisher?

In the Birmingham Daily Gazette there is a post at the Austin Motor Works, “must be accustomed to boring crankcases”.

The same paper advertises posts for beginners on liners, including stewardesses. There are various ads for homeworkers, mostly writing “showcards”, which seem to be some sort of advertising material displayed in shops. In businesses for sale, there is a fish and chip shop in Walsall which is “a little goldmine”.

In the Western Mail, there is a governess wanted for a fifteen-year-old girl near Swansea.

The Essex Newsman advertises an opportunity for women to emigrate to Canada as domestic servants. In the same paper, an experienced Lady Shorthand-Typist is required by the Automobile Association. “Write, stating age, experience, and salary required.” There is a “Young Lady Required, 17-20, to learn Photographic and Optical work; some knowledge of shorthand and typing essential. Apply, Boatman, Market Rd., Chelmsford.” That might be interesting, but I don’t meet the criteria.

In the Western Morning News, “a Refined LADY” is wanted “for outdoor interviewing purposes. This is an opportunity for a widow or married woman, of good appearance and tact”. Again, I think probably a sales job. There is also an ad for Civil Service vacancies, Ladies, 14-27, but I think it’s another college – the postal address is Loreburn College in Manchester.

There is an ad in the Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press for an Assistant Workmistress at London County Mental Hospital at Hanwell. Under 40 and with experience of dressmaking, especially cutting-out. Starting salary 18s 6d a week plus a fluctuating bonus of 12s a week.

The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette has other posts in mental hospitals, as a probationer nurse at the Devon Mental Hospital, which has 1,600 beds. Sounds grim.

There really do not seem to be very many jobs for women, apart from in domestic service.

In Situations Wanted in the Daily Herald, a 33-year-old “educated woman, lover of children” wants a post as a foster mother.

The Daily Herald also reports that Trades Council had carried a resolution opposing the employment of women in Army canteens at Aldershot. The issue appears to be that women do not want to work there, but if they turn down a job they may lose their unemployment benefit.

The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love and Death in Plymouth Colony (book #168)

22 December 2019


James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz, 2001.

I read In Small Things Forgotten, the seminal book on historical archaeology, years ago, but hadn’t read anything else by James Deetz.

I read this at this time because locally there is a lot of attention to the Mayflower anniversary which will be next year – some of what’s said and written about it being at best naïve, and at worst offensive.

The inventories of the colonists’ possessions which were made at their deaths give a huge amount of insight into their material culture, as in this one:

An Inventory of the goods & Chattels of Will Wright late of Plym. deceased as it was taken by Manasseh Kempton & Joh. ffans the sixth of Novbr 1633 & presented in Court the 2d of January 1633.

In the first Roome.
Inpr [First] one chest wth one sad [deep] coloured sute & cloake, one other sute the brieches being wthout lining, one red bay wastcoate & one white cotten wastcoate one old black stuffe doublet, 2 hats, a black one & a white one, 1 peece of loome-work. 4 knots of white tape. 2 pre of boothose & 2 paprs of hookes & eies 2 lb of colored thried, 2 doz. of lases, & 2 pr of old knit stockins wth some other smale things at 6£

It[em] one smale Table wth a carpet, one Cupboard & a chaire wth a sifting trough £1 10s 0d

It[em] six kettles 3 yron potts & a dripping panne £2 3s 0d

It[em] 7 pewter platters 3 great ones & 4 little ones. 1 smale brasse morter & pestle 2 pint potts & one pewter candlestick. 1 pewter flaggon 2 pewter cups, 1 wine & one other beere bowle. 1 beaker & one Cadle cup. 1 dram cup & a little bottle 2 salt sellers 3 porrengers. J doz. old spoones, 3 pr of pot hookes. 1 old pr of tongues & an old fireshovell. 1 pr of pot hangers. 2 smale old yron hookes. 1 pr of andyrons. 2 old yron Candlesticks, & a pressing yron. 2 basons 1 smale one & another great one all at 2 £

It[em] one fowling peece £2 0s 0d

It[em] 2 pr of boot brieches an old pr of Cotten drawers an old blew coate. 2 pr of old yrish stockins. 2 pr of cloath stockins 1 pr of wadmore stockins. 1 old red wastcoate an old black Coate
£2 0s 0d

It[em] one little old fflock bed & an old fether bolster, wth a pre of worne sheets, an old greene Rugge £1 10s 0d

In the Buttery
Two old barrels one full of salt, the other halfe full, 1 bucking tub, 1 washing tub & 2 empty runlets wth smale trifling things. £1 0s 0d

In the loft over the first roome.
One old halfe headed bedsteed. 1 old bagge of ffeathers. 1 old white Rugge 2 hogsheads & a barrell £0 16s 0d

In the bedchamber
One bedsteed one warming pan. 1 fether bed & bolster. 2 pillowes, wth 2 Rugges 1 green one & one white one. 1 truncke & a little chaire table, wth a small carpet & a curtaine & valence for the bed. 1 smale cushen five pr of sheets 4 pr of pillowbeers [pillowcases] 2 table cloathes & 15 napkins. 4 towels & 7 shirts. 3 pr of linnen drawers & 2 wrought [embroidered] silke caps & one white holland cap & one dymety [patterned cotton] wastcoat 3 bands & 4 pr of linnen stockins
£13 8s 0d

It[em] one great Bible & a little bible. 1 Greenhams works. 1 salme [psalm] booke wth 17 other smale books £1 3s 0d

In the loft over the bedchamber
One broade axe & 2 felling axes & 2 hand sawes, 1 thwart saw w th a wrest to it. 3 augurs 2 chisels 1 gouge. I drawing knife. 1 prser 1 gimlet. 2 hamers. 1 prof old hinges. 2 chest locks. 1 padlocke. 1 splitting knife 1 old spade. 2 old howes. 2 fishing lines 1 old hogshead. 1 smale runlet halfe full of powder. 1 garden rake. 1 pitch forke. 1 tiller of a whipsaw. 3 yron wedges wth some smale implements 15 & other luber [lumber] of smale value
£2 7s 0d

It[em] the howse & garden £10 0s 0d
It[em] the Cattle being one Cow & a steere calfe £20 0s 0d
It[em] 2 Ewe goates & 1 ewe lamb £7 10 0d
It[em] one old Sow. 1 hogg. 1 young sow of 1 yeere old. 1 shote [piglet]. 1 bore 1 Canoe & a churne £7 0s 0d

Debts due unto him as apprs pr booke £20 0s 0d

Suma £99 12s 0d

Prisilla Wright allowed the Executrix & Administratrix of her deceased husband.

Mr Will Bradford bound wth her in an hundred & ninty pownds for discharge of the Court.

The Deetzes quote another inventory, for a widow, Judith Smith, which is here.

There is an account at the end of the book of the development of the Plimoth Plantation heritage site. It was begun in 1957, and the Deetzes joined it in 1959, bringing up their 9 children whilst based at the site. They rejected the “squeaky clean” appearance of the houses and developed a living history programme, with cooking, costumes made using seventeenth century techniques, and livestock. They also involved Native Americans in interpretation. There was some criticism of the changes, such as a letter saying “get rid of the realism, so-called, and give people some ideals to live up to. Clear out the radicals in command and get some 100% Americans”.

The Vote: The Organ of the Women’s Freedom Movement, 13th December 1929 (part 1)

15 December 2019

First three pages only.

The first article describes a discussion about enslaved women at a meeting of the Minerva Club. “Mrs Pethick-Lawrence said that it was generally believed that we had got rid of slavery. We needed Miss Boyle to remind us that this was not the case.”

Not all women carried off during the War have been allowed to return to their homes. Women in Africa and India are the property of their fathers or brothers and can be given to other men. A woman in Morocco went out with her head uncovered and therefore no man would buy her, so her father shaved her head, put her in chains, and took her along the streets to be mocked.

However, Miss Boyle pointed out that women’s status as property can be a safeguard for them too, particularly as children.

“The whole question is one bristling with difficulties. Miss Boyle did not claim that she was going to make these women happier. She was going to set them free, so that they could then work out their happiness as other women had done. What she claimed was, that it was wrong. This slavery must be abolished, and we must begin to abolish it now. “When people start working for a thing that is right, they always succeed.””

The paper notes women who have recently achieved something:

Women called to the Bar:
Jessie Edson Hendrick and Katherine Mumford Hendrick, sisters from New York, both with BAs from Oxford
Doris Tempest, BA, Newnham
Dorothy Rae Lever
Kathleen Bruce Anderson

Women inspectors of elementary schools:
Miss KM Thomas
Miss T Smith

Civic duties:
Alice Hudson has become the first woman alderman at Eastbourne.
Miss AS Murray has been elected as the first woman county councillor for Moray County Council.
Councillor G Elsie Taylor, the only woman on Batley Town Council, has been appointed vice-chairman of the Batley Education Committee.
Councillor Mrs Barwick has been appointed Chairman of the Parks and Pleasure Grounds Committee of Morecambe Council, the first time a woman has been appointed to a chair in Morecambe.

Four women have been appointed as assistant tax inspectors. “These women will perform exactly the same work as the men in assessing income tax and dealing with abatements, allowances, and all the other intricate and responsible duties of an inspector.” Doubt they were paid the same though.

Dr Dorothy Catchpole has been appointed as Senior Medical Officer of Health for Friern Barnett, the first woman in that post in the Greater London District Councils.

An article says that the first Negro woman has been elected to an education board in America, Mrs Mary Martin Brown to the Cleveland Board of Education. “Mrs Martin is the daughter of slave parents, and her education and training were obtained under great handicaps.” She is also the Chairman of the Cleveland Federation of Coloured Women’s Clubs, active in the Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, and a trustee of the Phillis Wheatley Association.

There is an article headed “In Parliament” which contains quite a bit of data. Firstly, George Sinkinson, the Labour MP for Berwick and Haddington, asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the average number of children on the school roll per number of teachers in Scottish schools. The answer was 35 for primary schools, 24 for secondary schools and 18 for special schools. Jennie Lee, Labour MP for New Lanark, asked specifically about average class sizes in Scottish elementary schools. The response was “The particulars desired by my Hon. friend are not available, and could not be obtained without disproportionate expenditure of time and labour.” He added that the number of classes of more than 50 children habitually under the charge of one teacher has gone down from 143 in February 1929 to 98 in October 1929.

Secondly, Arthur Heneage, the Tory MP for Louth, asked the Postmaster-General if he was ware that girls leaving secondary schools at age 16 are not able to apply for Girl Probationer posts in the Post Office, as the age limit for that is 15. The PMG confirmed that this is deliberate and that 16-year-old girls leaving school can apply for other posts in the PO.

Sir Nicholas Grattan-Doyle, a Tory MP for Newcastle, asked about the planned increase in the nuber of wmen police officers in the Met. This was confirmed as an increase from 50 to 100.

James Lovat-Fraser, the Labour member for Lichfield, asked about girls and women who are placed on probation in the 468 courts which have no women probabtion officers. The Home Secretary is aware of this problem and plans to issue a circular to magistrates pointing out the need for women probation officers.

Major John Hills, the Tory member for Ripon (and the widower of Stella Duckworth, half-sister of Vanessa and Virginia Stephen), asked what action is being taken about maternal mortality and injuries to mothers. The Minister for Health said “I have these matters under close consideration, but cannot at present give any date for the introduction of legislation.”

Cecil Malone, the Labour member for Northampton, asked about promotions of women civil servants. The answer was that 3 men and no women were promoted to the administrative grade in 1927, and 10 men and 1 woman in 1928.

Finally, the House of Commons appointed a Select Committee to consider abolishing capital punishment. The committee has 15 members including one woman, Dr Ethel Bentham.

Cumulative Book Index, 1931 #1

24 November 2019

Subtitle: A World List of Books in the English Language, Vol XXXIV, May 1931, Number 5. To be used with April Number (Compiled to April 22nd).

I’m not entirely sure how this works, but it seems to be a list of books published in 1930 and 1931 of which the publishers of this guide have been notified. There is a brief list at the start of Recent English Publications issued in countries other than Great Britain, Canada and the United States – Australia, China, France, Germany, India (the largest section), Italy, Jamaica, Netherlands, South Africa and Switzerland. The publishers of the guide seem to be American. Books are listed several times, by author, title and subject.

Here is the first batch of books I have noted:

Advanced problems of the fiction writer. Gallishaw, John. (On Archive.Org.)

American history in masque and wig. Price, O. This seems to have been a book of plays for schools by Olive Price.

Around the world with a tired business man. Thompson, R. There’s a short extract from the book in this theatre programme (PDF, page 13), where the author is describing his examination of a Chinese woman’s bound feet. It’s not a particularly pleasant example of Orientalism and male abuse of power.

Compulsory repatriation of prostitutes (Association for moral and social hygiene). This was the English association. there was evidently a lot of discussion at the time about whether foreign women working as prostitutes should be expelled from the country. This League of Nations report from 1932 covers some of the debate. See page 3: “the great majority of women’s international associations had declared themselves opposed to the expulsion of foreign prostitutes, [and] had made strenuous efforts to obtain the ratification of the 1923 Convention for the Suppression of Obscene Publications, [and] were everywhere urging that licensed houses should be closed, and were taking steps to induce Governments to introduce women police where such did not as yet exist”. Where “necessitous women and girls” are repatriated, women’s associations want better support to be in place after repatriation.

Autobiography of an engineer. Emmet, W. There is a short biography of him by Willis Whitney from 1942.

Bachelor girls. Starr, Richard. Haven’t been able to find anything online about him. There is a copy on eBay for £98.

Back to your knitting. Goodman, Jules. This was apparently a one-act “mystery farce”.

Animosities: with drawings by the author. Bacon, Peggy. Wikipedia describes her as a “printmaker, illustrator, painter and writer … known for her humorous and ironic etchings and drawings”.

Old songs and balladry for girl scouts. Edgar, M. Marjorie Edgar was a folk song collector: some details here. Probably needs a Wiki article.

House desirable: a handbook for those who wish to acquire homes that charm. Barron, PA. Can’t find anything about this one.

Draw animals! Best Maurgard, Adolfo. Wikipedia.

Journey in England. Binder, Frank. This has been republished recently and looks interesting. There’s an article about Binder here. I like his daughter’s comment: “He’d be pleased that the novel had finally been published, but he’d probably criticise the way it’s been edited.” There are some extracts from A Journey in England here.

Training the emotions, controlling fear (Boston School Committee). Nothing online about this.

President’s daughter. Britton, Nan. Wikipedia (article needs work and referencing). This is a non-fiction book about the relationship the author had with American president Warren Harding, with whom she had a daughter.

Polly’s shop. Brown, Edna Adelaide. This is on and looks interesting. There is a brief biography here. Also probably needs a wiki article.

One of the weird things – which probably shouldn’t be weird – is reading through it and there being lots of authors one doesn’t know, and then coming upon someone one does, like Sayers or Buchan (John, not his sister) or Jowett.

Spinach recipes in the newspapers, 1929

5 November 2019

Post #3 about the 639 mentions of spinach in the newspapers in 1929: Recipes.

It is used as a food dye – for instance, in making sugar eggs for Easter (icing sugar and egg white), or dying hard-boiled eggs. “This vegetable extract is now obtainable among the range of culinary colourings stocked by the high-class grocer, and many uses will be found for it by the enterprising housewife.” (Yorkshire Evening Post, 27th March.)

Spinach is recommended as part of a nursery menu. The same article suggests preparing cabbage for children: chop raw cabbage finely, pass it through a sieve, add some raw minced beef, salt and tomato ketchup. “Give it a pretty name, such as “Fairy Cabbage,” and it will be a “goer”.” (Britannia and Eve, 1st February.) Another article mentions “the small person who will dissolve in tears at the prospect of spinach” (Derby Daily Telegraph, 5th September).

Recipes That Are Different: “Spinach balls are appetising and can be made with little trouble. Cook three pounds of spinach in very little water, drain well, and chop up. Add 2 oz. butter, 2 oz. grated cheese, 2 oz. grated onion, a teacupful of breadcrumbs and a beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper and leave for a few minutes. Then form into balls, roll up in egg and breadcrumbs, and fry in deep fat. Drain well and serve with roast beef or grilled steak.” (Aberdeen Press and Journal, 20th September)

Bean cutlets are suggested for a meatless meal (served with spinach); the article notes that “a piece of uncooked macaroni can be pushed in one end to resemble the bone” (Daily Herald, 12th March).

The Liverpool Echo, after giving an unexceptional recipe for spinach soup, then gives one for onion sandwiches. You fry the onions, dip stale bread in milk and fry the bread, then make hot sandwiches, “a cheap and savoury dish”. (18th May)

Spinach soup is sometimes served “with a half-egg in each plate” (Aberdeen Press and Journal, 25th June.)

The Taunton Courier has a recipe for Spring Salad: cook spinach, add butter, lemon juice, onion juice, salt and paprika. Press it into moulds and leave until cool. Turn out and serve on lettuce leaves, with tomatoes, a hard-boiled egg, some sweet mixed pickles and French dressing. (12 June)

“Spinach Ices are made by mixing some spinach puree (spinach cooked till tender and passed through a sieve) with a plain custard, adding some whipped cream and a little green colouring matter and freezing in a block. Cut into slices and serve garnished with lettuce or watercress.” (Dundee Evening Telegraph, 8th August)

Miscellaneous information about spinach in newspapers in 1929

4 November 2019

This is post #2 of a set of 3 about spinach in 1929 – looking at the 639 references to spinach in the newspapers.

It is referred to as “the most health-giving vegetable” and “the tonic vegetable”. “It has been called the broom of the stomach.” (Northern Whig, 6th March, repeated elsewhere.) “Full of iron, makes rich new blood, and puts colour into pale faces.” (Aberdeen Journal, 22nd March.) “Carrots and spinach are rich in iron, and these two vegetables should be taken freely if the hair is lacking in vitality.” (Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, “Rejuvenating Faded Hair”, 25th May.) The Western Mail calls it “that valuable but somewhat neglected vegetable spinach … in its preserved form it is the richest food in Vitamin A” (27th June). It “has a wonderfully purifying effect on the whole system, and any girl suffering from a bad complexion can clear it if by magic by eating lot of spinach” (Daily Herald, 20th July.)

Much information about growing it. There are apparently two types, true spinach and perpetual spinach or spinach-beet. Also, “How rarely does one see the New Zealand spinach, a delicious summer vegetable.” (Surrey Mirror, 3rd May, and repeated elsewhere, in “Vegetables You May Not Know” – there are only three, the others being maize or sugar corn and the bush marrow.) There are also references to “the round-seeded spinach” (Cheltenham Chronicle, 29th June). The Daily Herald believes that this year’s spinach tastes too strong, perhaps because of the dry weather, and should be cooked with more water than usual (20th July).

In June, the Western Mail reported “Spinach also has been dear, costing as much as 9d. and 9d. a pound during the worst time a few weeks ago. Now it is down to its usual price.” (8th June.) Other papers report it as 6d a pound (Birmingham Daily Gazette, 13th June), 4d (Nottingham Evening Post, 14th June) and in one case 2s a pound (Biggleswade Chronicle, 14th June).

There are some references to spinach being donated to institutions. The list of donations in kind to Bristol General Hospital includes spinach and cabbages from Mrs. Ruding Davey. Miss Maylove gives tinfoil, and Lady Mary Miles, “two very large iced cakes for the Sisters”. (Western Daily Press, 25th May)

“Cabbage and spinach, which should be prolific and good at this time of the year, are prohibitive in price, and in many districts unobtainable” (The Scotsman, 23th September).

The Gloucestershire Echo remembers an old “popular test” for a sense of humour. “If you laughed at the story of the young man who put spinach on his head at dinner, and who apologised by saying “I thought it was salad,” you had a sense of humour.” (30th September )

The School of Art and Technology in Dover held its annual ball with the theme of Nursery Rhymes: food included “curds and whey, tarts, pies, gammon and spinach, and such like nursery victuals”. The prize for Most Original Costume went to the Misses Prescott, who went as Three Wise Men of Gotham. (Dover Express, 11th January.)

There is a humorous anecdote about an actor who asked his landlady in South Shields to prepare a special meal for his friends. He provided the vegetables, but “spinach, as it afterwards appeared, was not in the landlady’s “repertory”. She put it in vases to garnish the festive board!” (Hastings and St Leonards Observer, 16th February.) The Penrith Observer has a story about a maid who complained about “a place where she had had to do all sorts of fancy cooking. and when asked what she considered fancy cooking, she gave spinach as an example”. (16th July)

Spinach is listed as one of the most popular Canned Foods. (Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, 2nd March.)

The Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette says that we owe spinach to Flemish immigrants in the 17thc. (10th August) The poem I quoted yesterday disagrees.

Spinach is included in a list of “Problems for Prof. Einstein”: “What became of balloon trousers? Why do people run up escalators? What is the idea of spinach?” (Sporting Times, 27th April)

The Hull Daily Mail reports that during May 79 packets of spinach brought into the port were found to be unfit. (11th July)

Poems about spinach in the newspapers, 1929

3 November 2019

I searched in the online British Newspaper Archive for mentions of spinach in 1929.

Excluding advertisements and duplicates – there is a lot of copying between local papers – and also excluding reports of vegetable prices (farming prices), I make it 639 mentions of spinach. This is post #1 about spinach in 1929.

In April, Tomfool’s column in the Daily Herald has a poem called “The Golden Market”, about a “West Country Market Town / Beyond the Malvern Hills”. It says that the people coming to market brought daffodils, so that

The darker and the paler green
Of spinach and savoy
Lay with gold bunches set between
Their ranks, of April’s joy.

(Daily Herald, 10 April)

There is another poem in the Liverpool Echo:

Some talk of new potatoes,
And some of early peas,
Of spinach and tomatoes,
And suchlike veg. as these.
But of all the garden produce,
The best that one can buy
Is the Cornish broc-broc-broc-broc,
The Cornish broccoli.
“An Evening Standard correspondent’s effort, to be sung to the tune of The British Grenadiers.” (17th May.)

As it is called The Baldwin Brocoleers, I suspect there is a political joke I am not getting. The Essex Newsman (18th May) has the same verse, and mentions that “Mr. Baldwin seems to enjoy the broccoli joke as much as anyone”.

The Homes of our Vegetables

Potatoes came from far Virginia:
Parsley was sent us from Sardinia;
French beans, low growing on the earth,
To distant India trace their birth;
But scarlet runners, gay and tall,
That climb upon your garden wall
A cheerful sight to all around —
In South America were found.
The onion travelled here from Spain;
The leek from Switzerland we gain,
Garlic from Sicily obtain.
Spinach in far Syria grows:
Two hundred years or more
Brazil the artichoke sent o’er.
And Southern Europe’s seacoast shore
Beetroot on us bestows.
When ‘Lizabeth was reigning here,
Peas came from Holland and were dear.
The South of Europe lays its claim
To beans, but some from Egypt came.
The radishes, both thin and stout,
Natives of China are, no doubt;
But turnips, carrots, and sea kale,
With celery, so crisp and pale,
Are products of oar own fair land,
And cabbages, a godly tribe,
Which abler pens might well describe.
Are also ours, I understand.

(Brechin Advertiser, 3rd September)