Nothing like a sick morning in bed to get a bit of reading done. My son and I have been watching the totally fabulous tv series based on these books recently, so of course I was curious about the books. This was perfect fare for a morning of dozing and feeling not quite right.
It's always quite astonishing what seems completely sensible when you actually think about it for the first time. I don't think that I've ever pondered what the Georgian moniker actually meant, turns out that it is the period of time ruled over by the Four Georges in England, 1714-1837. D'Oh.
It's hard to keep away from the tv show!
Gorgeous Georgians doesn't pretend to be an all inclusive history of the Georgian era. Rather it is a mixture of the gross, funny and scatological maximally designed to appeal to primary school aged children. And there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. And so here is a random collection of interesting facts.
Cricket was legalised in 1748. Why was it illegal, and needing legalisation? That isn't explained. But I could have been saved from many summers of torture if it had remained illegal.
The fans so fashionable with ladies could be used to hide rotting teeth or bad breath, as well as for signalling messages.
Poaching fish was punishable by death.
Silk beauty spots helped to hide smallpox scars.
Mallow flowers and mashed up snails is a great cure for ague (fevers and rigors). Squashed fish eyes is a great cure for toothache. If you have cancer you should drink a libation of sugar, nutmeg, woodlice powder mixed with your own urine.
Godfrey's Cordial ( a mixture of opium, treacle, water and spices) was used to quieten many crying orphans at night, (and used commonly by working class families), many of these poor children never woke up. Of course, child mortality was dreadful, one in three didn't live to 15
False teeth were fashioned out of tusks or pottery. Or if you were rich, dentists could take a tooth out of a poor child to replace your rotten tooth.
The Georgians used hot houses to grow fruits such as grapes, peaches and pineapples. There was a new fashion to eat fruit raw! More astonishing to realise that until the Georgian era noone in the world enjoyed toast or sandwiches!
There were a number of intriguing mentions of Daniel Defoe. Besides famously writing Robinson Crusoe (which I'm excited to be reading in the next few months), he formulated a seven class hierarchy of British society.
These were certainly fascinating times. Times that make you glad to live now, no matter what our more modern problems. I guess I'm still slightly surprised that these books are so wildly popular with kids. But they are. I'm very glad that they are- I think the whole Horrible Histories phenomenon is fantastic. And it's about to get bigger. I remember how history was taught at school. Awful. They finally have made history fun for all of us.