Monday, March 21, 2016
Hints for the Preservation of Health in Tropical Africa
The advice offered by The Crown Agents for the Colonies in this 1945 guide is brisk, if sometimes a little austere:
"Alcohol in moderation is neither essential nor harmful, and it is wise to take no spirits before sundown."
"The cocktail-party prolonged till nine o'clock and later, improves neither the dinner nor the digestion...".
"Where conditions or inclination do not favour the playing of games, a walk round the station, the making of a public or private garden, planting trees, a tramp into the bush after guinea fowl or pigeon, will provide the necessary exercise."
"Comfort and personal idiosyncrasy are the only criterion; but a sun helmet or solah-topee should be used by all newcomers."
"In the absence of mosquito boots, two pairs of socks, turned up over the trouser leg, will afford considerable protection."
"Prickly Heat may be very troublesome. Fresh lime juice rubbed over the parts is useful."
"For those working in outstations, a Fitzsimmons’ snake bite outfit should be kept with other emergency articles.”
(An example of this kit offered for auction contained "a tin filled with all the original serums etc., a glass NASAL DOUCHE, and a Benzedrine INHALER, as well as Greenbury's SUTURE NEEDLES, and a box containing five glass WIDAL TUBES").
Sound maxims, no doubt, for many walks of life. But the reason I got the book, from a charity shop in Kirkby Stephen, Westmorland, a place whose climate is not exactly in the tropical range, was the sticker, clearly added as an afterthought by the publisher, on the top left of the front fixed endpaper. It must be amongst the most singular i have so far discovered in a book:
Here for ease of reading is a close-up:
“Whatever did happen to that young ass Carruthers out in the Nyassaland station?”
“Oh, didn’t you hear? Well, he was always studying those health hints issued by the interferin’ blighters in the Crown Agents.”
“Yes, he was a bit keen. Well, what of it? Didn’t it keep him fit?”
“Nothing of the sort. Some clever pen-pusher had the book stuffed with fly-spray, d’you see? And he would keep licking his fingers as he turned the pages…”.
Of course, by now, I'm assuming that any toxin has long since dissipated and it is perfectly safe to...to...to...