Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who ya gonna call?

Anomometrics! Not catchy, I grant, and the current website is not yet in its final bells and whistles state but this latest brainchild of a colleague in college will probably find a market. I reckon it needs a big shiny box, perhaps on a backpack, and lots of flashing lights. And a big gun thing that contains all the sensors. Then we can wave it at Derek Acorah and see what happens.

I did get hold of the Science of pleasure book as promised and it's quite fun. I'm just in the early chapters on sex, drugs, and chocolate so far and there's less science and more anecdote. But I did discover that Wisbech 'Capital of the Fens', where I grew up (and attended the excellent Elm Road Primary School), was for some time a hotbed (if that's the right term) of opium eating. There's some serious academic stuff on it here. And here I found this anecdote from a visitor to Wisbech in 1871:
Went into a chemist's shop, laid a penny on the counter. The chemist said - `The best?' I nodded. He gave me a pill-box and took up the penny, and so the purchase was completed without my having uttered a syllable. You offer money, and get opium as a matter of course. This may show how familiar the custom is.
Wisbech isn't so interesting now, it seems, although Wikipedia tells me it was the site for the trials of the Tesco loyalty card.

3 comments:

Anathema said...

Could I just say, as a regular visitor to Wisbech (though less so now the Wisbech Stadium no longer does dogs - and generally the North Brink, so posh) that, frankly, little has changed. Though it costs a bit more....Seriously, Elgoods has displaced the need for opium these days, for most people.

On a related note, here is poem that is common in Ely:

Poppy tea and opium pill
keep the Fenland man free from ill

Opium consumption was related to the after effects of malaria, which was endemic in the fens until the mid twentieth century. It was also used as a means of keep children quiet while parents worked on the farms. This is not to be recommended today as it tends to stunt cognitive development.

Anathema said...

Just remembered that there is evidence that Wisbech is far more interesting now than I think you assume:

i) Dean and Spanley - an excellent new film - is shot there, on the Brink and Crescent. Still Crazy - a rather good British version of Spinal Tap, gives the Wisbech Rock Festival a name check.

ii) The first depiction of an association football match is found in Wisbech.

iii) Thomas larkson - the most important abolitionist - was from there as was William Godwin.

iv) the founder of the national trust was from Wisbech - Octavia Hill.

v) Penrose - an artist - was from there and so there are rumoured to be some Picasso painting in some attics there.

vi) the red lion does a nice Sunday lunch.

vii) the last of Peckovers nearly won a nobel prize for peace.

viii) The Wisbech museum includes an Erasmus manuscript and letters by Voltaire and a manuscript of a Dickens. Much more impressive than all the Anglo-Saxon nonsense in the Parker library.

ix) You are right, Wisbech is Capital of the Fens. March is rubbish.

x) The Angles theatre is Georgian. Though the interior is very poor.

xi) You can set your watch by Mr Sleight's attendance at his local.

xii) Wisbech is actually on the railway - but only if you are a dog biscuit. There is no railway station but Friskee dog food factory (now Purinas) has its own line.

xiii) there is something about the newt colony at Elgoods that is memorable but I can't recall.

JIW said...

There you go! Brilliant. I suggest everyone who has not been to Wisbech should go there immediately. And I would like to emphasise that it was a really nice place to grow up and my primary school was excellent (in particular Mrs Bennett, my reception teacher, was wonderful).