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If Walls Could Talk
An Intimate History of the Home
Birth of royal princes of England used to be attended by multiple witnesses to avoid accusations of baby swapping. The last one was the birth of the present Queen of England in 1926. The Home Secretary attended as a witness, though he wasn't in the room itself. After that King George VI put an end to the archaic practice.
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In the past a woman's orgasm was thought to be a precondition for pregnancy. After all, God would not have designed women to get pleasure out of sex, so it must have been for successful procreation. QED. Big problem for women was that if she was raped and got pregnant, she must have had an orgasm, and if she'd enjoyed it, it couldn't have been rape.
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Then, in 18th and 19th centuries, when doctors realized that an orgasm wasn't essential for conception, it meant that female orgasm was not needed. And combined with Victorian prudery, women were taught to fear pleasure in sex.
Urban legend that word 'crap' comes from Thomas Crapper, "inventor of the flush toilet". In fact (a)none of his 9 patents were for flushing toilets, and (b)the word, in Old English just meant 'rubbish'. It's usage died out in British English, but in America it became slang for shit. When American soldiers arrived in England in WW1 they were highly amused to find the scatalogical 'connection'
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Paper was originally too valuable to be wasted on bottom-wiping. The Romans used a sponge attached to a stick (possibly giving rise to the expression 'getting the wrong end of the stick') and in Middle Ages wealthy people used strips of linen, which would be boiled and reused. Earliest toilet paper was torn up newspapers and adverts. First purpose-made toilet paper 1857 was hard and shiny, and wasn't until 1936 that soft paper was sold.
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The first TV broadcasts in 1932, a year in which 76 half-hour programmes went out. But no-one knew if anyone was watching. So "The BBC is most anxious to know the number of people who are actually seeing this television programme. Will those who are looking in send a postcard marked "Z" to Broadcasting House immediately."
Historically, marriage usually began as a property arrangement, its middle part was mostly about raising children, and ended up with love. Today it is the other way round. Begins with love, moves on to children, and often ends in disputes about property.
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Women always affected more by old age than men. A lifetime of poor diet and heavy labour would have made the effects of the menopause even more obvious, so a Tudor woman would quickly pass from youthful desirability to witch. Since they were no longer producing milk or monthly blood, they were considered to be more like men. But second-class men, without men's strength or reason.
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Early brick ovens costly to build and heat, so a village would share, rather than have one in each home. They were heated first, with a wood fire inside. The ashes were then raked out, and the bread pushed in. After the bread was baked, there was just enough heat to bake a second round of cakes or biscuits. The very word bis-cuit means 'second-cooked'.
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Medieval England obeyed Catholic proscription against eating meat on Fridays. Even then, cod was imported from Iceland, while poor got eels. If you really hated fish, you could eat puffins or barnacle geese, seabirds which were classified as fish.
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