There now follows a Public Health Announcement:
What is mentioned here are old ‘wisdoms’ that have now been roundly debunked and should not, under any circumstances, be followed!
Have you ever heard an old wives’ tale and thought: How on earth did they come to that conclusion? / How cruel / How stupid / Were they mad?
Last night my husband and I were discussing cats (as you do) and he told me that when he was little the other French people in the community in which he lived had advised his parents to cut off the tip of their kittens’ tails to prevent them from getting worms. That’s a special kind of weird and horrible, now isn’t it? How did anyone first draw that conclusion? I’m sorry to say that they apparently followed the advice and duly sent the little bairns off to the local ‘witch doctor’ (for want of a better description). It was, mercifully, the first and only time they did this, as presumably said kitties got worms anyway and a visit to the vets provided them with the information that they should ideally have been privy to all along.
This started me thinking of some of the other little madnesses that I’ve come across over the years.
For instance, my mother once told me that when she had her first baby my French great grandmother told her to squeeze the baby’s head in order to close the gap (the fontenelle). (If you see a pattern emerging here by the way, you’d be correct. It’s not that the French have wacky ideas, [certainly not that I’m aware of!] it’s that the French community here at that time were poor, ill-educated immigrants who were only faithfully passing on what they had traditionally been told).
Then I remembered the special kind of crazy that was apparently happening in the first part of the 20th century – selling radioactive drinks as ‘health giving’. Seriously!
And you must have heard the one about doctors for years promoting smoking as healthy? No? It’s true. If you don’t believe me, just go and Google it.
I’ve often wondered what we are doing, or being told to do now, that in years to come will be seen as completely and utterly bonkers. We may like to think we are modern, sophisticated, wise and pretty much know it all, but the reality is that we undoubtedly still have much to learn. Makes you think, doesn’t it?