Thursday 15 August 2013

Whooping Cough Treatment.

The advance in modern medicine is, to me, a miracle of our age. I have an equal interest in alternative remedies and personally would like to see the two used alongside each other a great deal more rather than occupying opposing camps as seems to be the current situation. As a parent the relief knowing that there are vaccines [again this divides people I know] out there that protect my child from diseases that were once a common killer is immense. In the past part of a bride's trousseau would often have included both a shroud for herself and also a couple of infant sized ones. Such was the acceptance of infant mortality.

One such killer was whooping cough [I was bitterly disappointed as a child to discover it wasn't spelt hooping!] and many turned to folklore remedies in desperation. My dictionary of Sussex Folk Medicine recommends as a cure either a man riding a piebald horse or feeding the sufferer on bread and butter given by a family where the head of the household was called John and the wife Joan. If you'd followed that advice to the letter the chances of recovery were not guaranteed I would imagine! Another remedy I read about recently was passing the ill child under one of these three times!

Surprisingly my grandparents actually owned a donkey for a time so would we have been all right under such circumstances? To be frank I wouldn't have passed anything under their mule. My Grandfather [who I never met but think I'd have liked tremendously] had a penchant for auctions but did not have what you might call a regular eye for bargains. He brought home various unusual lots and on this occasion he bought the donkey from a road sweeper for his daughter to learn to ride on. Adolf, so named because he had a dark tash and it was wartime, clearly had other ideas and simply bowed his head forward so my Auntie fell off every time she got on him. No Adolf undoubtedly had alternative talents he was keen to finely hone- one was a liking for eating the teatowels that he could reach through the open kitchen door and the other was as a very successful escape artist. On more than one occasion he make a bid for freedom except each time he was captured by the local soldiers [my grandparents lived just outside the garrison town of Colchester] and walked down the hill to the local inn where he partook gratefully of a bucket of mild! Naturally coordinating his legs after such a session proved a little troublesome and the naughty soldiers would then lead him back up the hill and present him back to his owners in his inebriated state. Hardly pc but amusing nevertheless. Eventually he was sold again but not until he'd left them with a few entertaining tales!



  1. I had whooping cough as a child...I don't believe I was ever passed under a donkey...but you never know :-)

    I love the fact that your grandfather bought a donkey :-)


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