Doris’s Digest: #6 – Ten things that we can learn from the Victorians

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It is now well over a century since Queen Victoria finally turned up her toes, bringing to an end an incredible reign of 63 years on the throne. When we look back on the Victorian period, we think of a begone era of steam, sexual repression and empire building, which may have laid the foundations for modern times, but has little relevance to how we live today. However, Nigel Frottage, Emeritus Professor of Olden Days Studies, at the University of Emmerdale Farm, Kansas, USA, believes that those who lived in Victorian England could pass on a wealth of advice and lifestyle tips to us, their descendants, and that we would do well to listen to their wisdom.
Here are Frottage’s top ten Victorian Tips.
1. Little boys should be heard and not seen: Obviously it is difficult to clean out a chimney in complete silence, and therefore allowances must be made for them as they disrupt the peace of a household by going about their work. When child labour was abolished, we lost a great deal of opportunity to use young people to squeeze into areas that adults do not easily fit into. Even in houses without chimneys, little boys can be employed, taking cables underneath the floorboards, cleaning out the drains and, given suitable breathing apparatus, performing an annual purge of the septic tank.
2. Little Girls should be seen and not heard. Think of the misery we would have been saved had we followed this simple dictum. We would have been able to admire the looks of Cheryl Cole, Whitney Houston and Lena Zavaroni, without having to go to the trouble of listening to them.
3. Women should dress modestly, keeping all flesh, apart from that about the hands and face, covered up: Unless taking part in gentleman’s entertainments, or posing for photographic postcards.
4. Men should behave with politeness and honour at all times: Any man who realises that he has acted without honour, should blow his own brains out with a pistol at his earliest convenience. (Taking care to leave a minimal amount of mess, so as not to inconvenience the servants any more than is necessary)
5. Any man who discovers that another has acted without honour and omitted to blow his own brains out should challenge the fellow to a duel and endeavour to blow his brains out for him.
6. Gruel is a sufficient source of nutrition for the poor. Ideas such as food banks and soup kitchens, whilst they may be admirable in their intentions, encourage sloth, and give no incentive to the impecunious to drag themselves up from the gutter and become captains of industry.
7. The wealthiest people of a nation know best how to look after the poorest. A free and beneficent press should be set up in order to promulgate ideas about how this should be done. A publication such as the “Daily Mail” (which was set up in the year 1897 is an excellent organ for ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of wealth in any industrial nation.)
8. Souvenirs from holidays abroad should be more meaningful than a tea towel or household ornament. The head of a native animal, dried out and mounted makes for an excellent memento or conversation piece, on those occasions where it is difficult to obtain a similarly treated head of a native.
9. Strong Whisky or Gin makes an excellent anaesthetic for those undergoing surgery.
10. Pain, sickness and discomfort are character building experiences. Those wealthy enough to avoid them usually have sufficient character in the first place and therefore do not need suffering in order to gain character, as people from poorer backgrounds invariably do.
So there you have it. And remember, there are always people like Nigel Frottage around, who would willingly transport us to a magical bygone era, where the fortunate can live like Lords, and everyone else can have character building experiences.

Auntie Doris’s Guide to the Zodiac #12. Libra: 24th September – 23rd October

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Librarians have a strong sense of justice. If the grocer gives them too much change, they are honest about it, and return the extra cash. They always keep their promises and they always return a favour. Unfortunately, with some Librarians, the sense of justice can become a bit obsessive, and they will set out to single handedly put the world’s problems to rights. My father was a librarian. He had a strong sense of justice but after he was hit in the face by a potato thrown by my mother in a domestic dispute, he became convinced that all rude and Ill mannered people should be punished. Whenever he heard anyone speaking crudely or being inconsiderate in public, he claimed to hear the voice of The Lord God Almighty in his head, telling him to pinch them very hard and then to get away as quickly as he could. He was very good at doing this. In a crowd, on a bus, in a shop, on the street, in the middle of town or at the seaside, he could bring up a bruise the size and colour of an old ha’penny and be out of the way before his victim even realised that they had been hurt. He didn’t get caught for months either. But people were talking, and it wasn’t long before the local paper got hold of the story. The search for the Yorkshire Nipper was on! The police net was closing in on the day he made a dramatic leap from the 10.20 train from Hull to Scarborough. Fortunately it was standing on the platform at Bridlington Station at the time, and he survived with only grazed knees. However he was arrested and spent the rest of his days at St Dymphna’s Hospital for the criminally bewildered. The only time he ever saw the outside world again was through the windows of a yellow bus. Librarians. Don’t fall into the same trap as the Yorkshire Nipper. If you hear voices in your head, don’t worry, it will probably only be your old, dead friend, Auntie Doris. And I would never tell you to do anything that would get you into trouble. Would I? Famous Librarians: Philip Larkin, Peter Sutcliffe, James Robertson Justice, Mary Whitehouse, Aileen Wuornos