The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

If you'd like to publish any interesting material about the history of East Anglia on the site, then please send an email to the Resident Historians at and we'll add it.

Family Historians have their own area on the site, so look there if your main interest is in tracing your family history.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Distractions and the aging process

My more avid readers, (mostly my devoted family) will have noticed a slight tailing off in the introduction of new material to the site. Not that there is any falling off from our resident historian (GH) who is continuing to power through the newspapers of the 1860s in search of intersting titbits.

One job of work that has taken a lot of energy is the the collecting together of photographs of Borley Rectory, and the Borley Rectory affair. It seemed appropriate that we act as a gathering-place for these photographs even though the residents of Borley have always been against any further publicity and the resulting 'psychic tourists'. Anyone contemplating a visit must surely be aware that there never was a haunting, and the entire affair was part of the continuing process of parting gullible people from their money. There was never a haunting. If there had been then surely someone in the area would have noticed it. GH, our resident historian, has walked past the church at sunrise every day for most of his long life without seeing anything odd, and none of the church choir members have ever seen or heard anything odd in the church. Nobody in the village has seen anything that warranted a supernatural explanation, and none of us knows, or knew,of anyone who has.

The archive of photographs is now on the website on The Borley Rectory Pictures page.

Another distraction was getting involved in the construction and rollout of a new and wonderful website for Sir Alan Sugar and Tim Campbell, called Deadlines were extraordinarily tight for this, and, hopefully, the results are worth the work. Tim Campbell was the charming lad who won the TV competition for a job with Sir Alan Sugar in 'The Apprentice'. Tim is now running a division of the company for the manufacture and sale of Health and Beauty products and The Integra Skincare products are the first result of this.

In the seventeenth century, one of the chief ingredients for anti-wrinkle creams was dogs' urine, and the so called 'night water' was said to be exceptionally beneficial to the complexion. A pampphlet entitled 'Here's Jack in the Box' (1656) advised the reader 'every morning when you rise you must wash your face in Puppy dog water, and then lay on the painting (i.e. the makeup)' (p11)

Samuel Pepys records in his diary buying puppy's night urine for his wife. Another recipe to soften the skin was to wash in your own urine, or with rosewater mixed with wine, else make a decoction of the rinds of lemon.

Even now, the use of Botox injections and surgery seems a painful way of trying to roll back the years. Tim's Face-care unit, which electrically stimulates the muscle-layer underneath the skin on the face for a temporary but effective de-wrinkling of the skin, is a kinder and quicker approach to the problem.

Sir Alan would, I think, like to be remembered not only for his computers, but also for finding new ways for enabling those organisations that produce things to reach the public that wants to buy those things. We have always been a nation of shopkeepers, but these shopkeepers are now mostly multinationals with other agendas than meeting local needs. It would be nice if we could develop ways in which we can buy safely on personal recommendation so that those who can genuinely recommend products and services are rewarded, just as they always were in the past when retail outlets were of a more human scale. Shopping is more certain when you can touch, or use a product, or to ask people's opinion of them. You can't do that on the internet, so Sir Alan and Tim would like to set up ways of combining the best of old and new ways of buying and selling. If they can make some of the faceless retail giants sweat a bit in the process so much the better.


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