Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Spin cycle

“Just imagine,” said a mummy-type colleague today, “what life would have been like with children – and no washing machine.”

”What about mothers before washing machines were invented?” asked another. “What about the Victorians?”

“They had servants,” I said confidently. (When I say things like this, my mum generally gives me an arch look and asks: “Where did you come from?”)

“But what about the poor ones?”

“They would have smelled,” I said. “They didn’t have baths as often as us, they didn’t wash their clothes as often – and they didn’t have deodorant.”

Smelling bad must have been a hazard of Victorian life. You look at the heavy fabrics they wore and imagine how hot they became. Imagine riding a horse or playing tennis in a crinoline – and a corset. No wonder they were always fainting: probably when someone lifted their arm above shoulder level.

Although they had rudimentary washing machines, washday was only a weekly occurrence. Ditto bath time. No wonder women didn’t start wearing knickers until relatively recently.

Life without a washing machine or life without deodorant: which do you reckon would be worst?

23 comments:

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

M&M, think back to your very young days......before school, deodorant was not as commonly used as today, especially by men even a short a time ago as then. As I recall from my childhood days, deodorant etc was for wussy men not real men.

Being a family history freak I have often heard it said that it is a good job we cannot smell our ancestors, even the rich ones!

I couldn't cope without my washing machine. I could cope without deodorant.

rilly super said...

In Harrogate they haven't started wearing them to this day M&M. Did you read about the actress who played Jane Eyre on the telly recently. She had to wear a 15' corset that took three people to put on.

mutterings and meanderings said...

IMB, you're right about the men and the lack of deodorant - though I have to come down on the side of deodorant: you can always hand wash your clothes...

Rilly, I'd squeeze into a 15in corset if it meant I could get up close and personal with the divine Toby Stephens ... swoon ...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

If my husband wore deodrant he'd frighten the sheep away. He thinks it wise to stink like one for some unknown reason..

Mopsa said...

A washing machine every time - I wear clean clothes every day but only need to roll-on when I'm travelling to London on the train. Otherwise I smell as sweet as...as....as...well, it depends what I'm doing but often I smell of sheep or dog. Mmmm. Nice. And it takes a lot less time to have a shower than to wash all your clothes by hand.

This reminds me of an acquaintances dilemma. She had a bug, and headed for the toilet and couldn't decide whether to puke in it or.....the other end. Stupid mare puked in it! (Apologies for being truly gross).

Anonymous said...

Hmm..The programme 1900 House showed that the washing drudge was the real slavery..

living without deodorant would be easy if one were allowed baths and talcum powder at a level not really available in victorian england.

In any case, what are a few pheromones between friends...

Anonymous said...

Rilly, do you live near Harrogate ?

Fancy meeting up at Betty's Tea Rooms sometime next week ? I'm free any time, but would need some advance warning to organise my transport, some funky underwear and, ahem, some superior quality deodorant...

Gill said...

The ulb says flying through the cosmos without knickers is fabulous!

Sarnia said...

Agree with you about Toby Stephens (Stevens?) Isn't he Maggie Smith's son? (Miss Jean Brodie actress).

Deos are no good - at least on their own - has to be anti-perspirant also.

I've sometimes thought about our ancestors must have smelt - no wonder the Tudors et al had lavender and other flowers/herbs on the floor!

mutterings and meanderings said...

CJ, i do hope he has frequent baths (you don't chuck him in the sheep dip do you?) ;)

Mopsa, I'm sure you smell luvverly ..

Anon, I loved The 1900 House. I have the book somewhere. I haven't even thought about talcum powder for many a year ...

Oh, and why would you need funky underwear if you were going for tea with Rilly???

Gill, the ULB has let you out! Are you OK?

Sarnia, I'll fight you for him!! I wonder if people became used to BO and didn't smell it the same way as we do?

Drunk Mummy said...

M&M! What do you mean by 'women didn't start wearing knickers until relatively recently.' You speak for yourself, you shameless hussy!

rilly super said...

anonymous, you're not trying to tempt me with a fat rascal are you dear? trouble is with Harrogate Bettys from the spontanous rendez-vous point of view is that you have to queue for four years to get a table.

You'd be surprised what you can get into M&M. Ruth Wilson told them 'that'll never fit!' but they said 'course it will!' It's not on record as to what Toby Stevens was wearing in that department

Gill said...

I'm fine- been locked in a riveted box and dismebered and hung out on a surrealistic fence-but I'm ok now.

Mid-lifer said...

Washing machine definitely - I mean, as I tell my husband, I smell like lavendar so why would I need a deodorant.

Year ago I lived in Indonesia and had to do all of my washing by hand I hated it and and I was rubbish at it - everything turned out over-wrinkly and soap-streaked.

Hi - from a new blogger.

Karen said...

Not even Toby Stephens is worth a 15" corset! Although he is incredibly handsome grr...

Karen said...

oh and i'm coming to steal your kitties as they are gorgeous!!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Life without washing machines - definitely though I am firmly of the view that modern washing machines consume far too much energy and take much longer than necessary to wash a simple load of dirty clothes. Personally, I have never used deodorant. I shower each day and what little natural smell there is is like a primitive invitational aroma for the fairer sex - at least when my wife is not around!

Lord Straf-Bilderberg said...

Waht do you men Victorian times, M&M? My early childhood saw twin concrete tubs and the wringer.

muddyboots said...

what about the second hand clothes shops as well, recycling even then! didn't old fashioned draws consist of 2 leg bits attached to a waist band?

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Life without deodorant fills me with horror! It's such a shame that not everyone feels this way. I was in Ayres the Bakers this morning and a lady lifted her left arm to point to a crusty cob and the entire shop collapsed onto the floor with the deodorant-free fumes. It put me right off my cream slice.

debio said...

Body odour is a way of life here, m&m. I am an expert in deciding a person's nationality by smell alone - some gut-wrenchingly awful...

Can't live with either/or - must be both deodorant and washing machine, I'm afraid...

mutterings and meanderings said...

DM! I of course mean 'relatively recently' in an historical sense ...

Rilly, as I've said... anything for the divine Toby ...

Glad to hear it Gill!

Welcome mid-lifer ... lucky you to smell of lavender!

Good to see you Karen! You obviously don't love Toby as much as me or you'd make the effort with the corset...

YP, spoken like a proper Yorkshireman!

James, how old did you say you were...

MB, I dread to think about the early attempts at knickers ..

Me too NMO!

Do you get used to it Debio, or does it continue to cause distress?

@themill said...

Mid-Lifer - it's when you get to Old-Lifer and that lavender becomes tinged with Pee. Oh horror!