Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Weird Science

Victorians were probably not the worst for generating silly pseudo-scientific ideas about the natural world, but they did have some inspirationally bad theories.

For instance, the above kit, which was kept at emergency stations along the Thames in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in case of a drowning was considered as important as artificial respiration. It contains several vials of tobacco. A pipe to get the tobacco smoldering and a choice of bellows or syringe to insert the smoke rectally.

Yes, there's a literal truth behind the expression about blowing smoke up the ass.

Tobacco smoke enemas were commonly used to treat hernias and cholera as well.

Then in 1811, a scientist named Benjamin Brodie had to come along and explain that nicotine actually impedes circulation, so by the middle of the 19th century the kits had mostly fallen into disuse. Party-pooper.

I suspect the only reason they ever thought it was an effective treatment was because a few fakers got this treatment and 'revived' suddenly upon having a metal tube, followed by hot smoke forcibly inserted in their nether regions.

Stephen Fry explains it very well below.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fashion Friday: The Real Thing

Most of what I post here is just imitation or interpretation. Very few people can afford the level of workmanship that went into genuine Victorian-era luxuries, and those who can afford it seem to prefer spending their money on Botox and pool parties where they can show of their newly Botoxed faces (at least that's what I've learned from the popular media, my own experience is limited).

The real thing is a whole different packet of crisps.

Top is a the full view of a billiards table built for Queen Victoria's jubilee in 1887. The cabinet in the background is for scorekeeping, behind the door is storage for cues, chalk and balls. Lower picture shows detail of the table which is covered in carvings depicting pivotal events that led from William the Conquerer to Queen Victoria.

The King's dining room at Windsor contains work from the 1600's onwards, but in my mind really represents the kind of opulence of the era. Enough art to fill a moderate-sized gallery packed into one room.

The Ballroom at Buckingham painted during the time of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. The deep reds and blues, offset by gold trim make it just seem royal. Colour combinations which would be garish for smaller, less opulent spaces just work amid the lush settings. It would really have been something to see in its day.

Royal Albert Hall was completed after Prince Albert's death and named in his memory. Truly they do not make theaters like that anymore.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Glue Some Gears on it and Call it Steampunk

Now that it's almost Christmas time, you might need to explain to your loved ones what is, and is not Steampunk.