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Saturday, 17th May 2008

Some days those shiny little pills just do not do the job and the blackness of the universe seeps into my angst ridden soul. They say time heels everything. How true that is, although the jury remains out on the matter of weather spelling mistakes are funny. As Keynes said, 'In the long run we're all dead.' Again true, trouble is his short-term economic model for getting out of recession unravelled in the early seventies. He was dead but I wasn't. Some people that think they know me call me a cynic. In a world where the opt-out clause is death it is difficult not to be. I am not actually a cynic, I'm just a real misery.

In the UK we are all painfully aware that the Health Service is not as well as it could be (just count those corny puns.) There's another one to keep you on your toes.

I assume it is also a card Spike Milligan would rather enjoy

Waiting lists for non-essential operations are at record levels. Prescription charges are running out of control.

We are just living longer and getting sicker in the process. There have been suggestions that smokers should at least help to pay for the smoking related operations. Makes you wonder what happened to all those tax pounds the UK government squeezed out of the addicts over a lifetime. Perhaps it went the same way as the road tax, ie anywhere but the road network.

Well if all this is a bit depressing fear not, cigarette cards have the answer to all your worries. In fact this is a set which framed should hang in every Doctor's waiting room. Although the ethics of hanging cigarette cards in a doctors waiting room might be questionable but please do not confuse the messenger with the message.

Wills, First Aid [1913] was a set of 50 cards. For those that care there are two varieties of this set. In 1913 it was issued without the album clause and then in 1915 it was re-issued with the album clause attached.

It is a colourful and well-drawn set which deals with all manner of injuries which might befall the unfortunate Edwardian.

Now I have to confess to being a bit of a poor-stick when it comes to all things broken and bleeding. Bones popping out of flesh, limbs bent at peculiar angles, this sort of thing has me reaching for the morphine instantly (at least it would have done in Edwardian England. Oh the things medical science have deprived us of.)

To begin close to the end Card 49 has the sort of advice that seems sage until the need comes to apply it. Entitled, 'To Extract Fish-hook.' The illustration is of a freshwater fish-hook which is merciful I suppose. Having just been fishing myself it could have been my finger illustrated.

Details from Card
To extract a Fish-hook...When the barb of a hook is buried beneath the skin, do not attempt to withdraw the hook by pulling it backwards along the path of entrance, but, instead, proceed as follows :- Cut the thread binding the line to the shaft of the hook, so that the line and hook are separated. If the hook has an eye it is necessary to cut the hook below the eye with wire cutting pliers. Wipe the shaft of the hook clean and apply vaseline or lard to it, grasp the shaft of the hook and push it onwards until the barb protrudes through the skin; seize the hook by its barbed end, when the shaft is readily pulled through.

I took a rather different approach to the situation. The hook sank into my flesh and already I had gone off track, no mention of maggots being attached to the hook on the card. Also no mention of pain being involved. I leapt to my feet cursing. My next error was not reaching for the wire cutters, lard, vaseline etc and taking the alternative approach of yanking the darn thing out of my finger as fast as possible. It had afterall taken me a fair time to get the hook onto the line and I was not going to go through the whole process of hooking-up again. More cursing then followed which was muffled by the injured finger being stuck into my mouth. Not exactly textbook stuff.

There are numerous cards which try to explain the methods of bandaging various parts of the anatomy. Card 50 is for a finger bandage, rather appropriate after the fish-hook incident. I assume it is also a card Spike Milligan would rather enjoy. Card 47 is worthy of mention as it describes the Spica Bandage for Hip. The card fails to suggest the reason for the bandage being necessary but it should be 3.5 inches wide and 6 yards long. Amazing what the Edwardian's had just lying around.

Card 42 demonstrates how the world has changed. It explains how to deal with leg shot in the legs. It advises that the person should not be allowed to walk. The injured person should be put to bed and the legs covered with waterlogged towels. Interestingly the card advises you should not attempt to remove the pellets and if the joints swell a doctor must be consulted. I think I would appreciate the Doctor being informed long before the possibility of joint swelling.

Card 34 shows a woman being injured (curiously the set assumes women far less likely to be injured.)

Details from Card 34
Clothing on fire
. When a woman's dress (skirt) catches fire the by-stander should immediately lay (throw) her down on the floor - flames uppermost. If it is the front of dress that is burning lay her down on her back. In this position the flames ascend away from the limbs, which thus escape injury. Throw a mat, tablecloth, coat, or blanket over the burning part so as to smother the flames. Dress the burn surface of the skin with oil, vaseline, boric or other ointment.

Again card 34 is a product of its time. Quite interesting are the words in brackets. Of course in the time of open fires and flowing dresses, going up in flames was quite a risk. I have just watched Pip slam the door hard in Great Expectations (Lean version). Coincidence is a funny thing.

Card 25 also has some strange advice which perhaps the Edwardian's considered natural. It concerns artificial respiration. The method suggested is the Schafer method which sounds like certain death for most unfortunates. However it is the following line, 'The helper kneels astride the patient (one on each side if a woman)...' Well lets hope there were not to many female fatalities as the third man was searched for. card 16 & 17 also deals with Artificial Respiration but this is the Sylvester method of pumping the lungs of water in cases of drowning. The illustration is great for these two cards but it shows a never say die attitude to life saving with a suggested pumping time of up to two hours if necessary. Quite a show of strength as you should be pumping the patient sixteen times a minute.

Finally card 15 deals with fractured collar bones and here I have to apologise to a small red-headed girl who I managed to break her collarbone. We were both children but I remember it with quite some guilt even though it was a complete accident. Funny how some things stick in the memory. I never got to say sorry at the time, she ran away, crying. There, confession is good for the soul (?) If only I had a couple of golf clubs and some crepe bandages on me I am sure something could have been done to help.