Monday, November 05, 2007

pus, anyone? no? pus?

I thought as a tribute to my last book review I'd drift off into a Sebaldian reverie with the help of this postcard which my mother sent me last week.

By a strange coincidence my parents were in Worth Matravers only a couple of weeks after our recent visit, and even called into the Square And Compass for a drink.

The pub isn't pictured on the postcard reproduced here (click for a larger version), but the gravestone at the bottom left is interesting, because it's the grave of Benjamin Jesty, pioneer of vaccination well in advance of Edward Jenner's more celebrated efforts in the same area. Jesty's activities weren't as widely known for the fairly obvious reason that Jesty was a manure-encrusted farmer and Jenner was a respected country doctor. Wearing a bit of tweed and not smelling of poo counts for a surprising amount, then as now.

Before we start swelling with patriotic pride too much, it should be pointed out that there's some evidence that the Chinese, damn their inscrutable eyes, were doing something pretty similar with inoculation back in about 200BC, when we Brits were still running around in the nude wearing woad and drinking mead out of each others' skulls. Ah, those were the days.

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