Spire University of the Third Age

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ISSUE No 56                  www.salisburyu3a.org.uk       November 2007

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Time to book your place for the Christmas Party on December 10th

The exceptional entertainment will include:

A Guest Choir, A Magician and Poetry

A Specially written U3A Pantomime.

A Quiz and Xmas songs.

A luxuriant lunch with seasonal specialties.

Come and make it the best Christmas Party yet. £5


LIFE IN THE 1500’s

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

      Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water".

       Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs".

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could d mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor". The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying, "a thresh hold".    

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old".

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a ... dead ringer.

And that's the truth. Now, whoever said History was boring! ! !

                                  Peter Game


*Science and Technology Group

In November we shall have a fascinating talk from Dr Ken Collins.  His topic concerns what has happened over the last 25 years to the Mary Rose.  Since Ken is with the Oceanography Department of Southampton University he has first hand experience and knowledge.

If you remember he gave us a talk last season on Hammerhead Sharks.

So let us see you at 10am 26th November at the Harnham Memorial Hall.

Peter Read

*Archaeology Group

At October's archaeology meeting we had a very interesting talk on "archaeology volunteers" from Margaret Melsom. It appears there is a great backlog of pottery washing, listing and cataloguing of past finds and information.  This information requires putting into some sort of order for future publication and /or museum display.  Our speaker got herself involved in this sort of work at Devizes and is constantly in demand.  The group has been going almost three years now and we have had many excellent speakers and outings all organised by Ann ably assisted by Margaret. 

Last month we went to the Roman Glass makers at Quarley near Thruxton.  Part of the event was watching a Roman glass jug being made, and as a small token of appreciation of all the effort put into organizing the group, the actual jug was presented to Ann and a similar one made earlier was presented to Margaret.                                                     John Curtis







Spire organises these meetings but members from the other Salisbury U3As are invited. There is no need to have your name down to attend.  Just turn up on the day, usually in the Memorial Hall, Harnham unless otherwise stated*


Please accept, with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all...and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make the UK great (but in any case not too great and most definitely not to imply that the UK is necessarily greater than any other country), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual orientation of the wishee.

This wish is limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. "Holiday" is not intended to, nor shall it be considered, limited to the usual Judeo-Christian celebrations or observances, or to such activities of any organized or ad hoc religious community, group, individual or belief (or lack thereof).

Note: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. This greeting is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for the wishee her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of same.  This greeting is void where prohibited by law. 

Oh yes --- and Happy New Year as well...

Very Best Wishes to all Spire U3A Members

Exercise suggested for seniors

Just came across this exercise suggested for seniors to build muscle strength in the arms and shoulders. It seems so easy so I thought that I'd pass it on to you.

The article suggested doing it three days a week.  Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.

With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax. Each day, you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.

After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks. Then 50-lb potato sacks and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I'm at this level)

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks. 


Editorial Help Required

As publicity officer for Spire U3A I would like some help from anyone who has some spare time.  I know what you are now telling yourself as you read this.  I do not know how I had time to work before I retired!

Well I said that too but I have learnt so much as editor of the newsletter and met so many friends that I have enjoyed every minute.  I volunteered in January 2002 when the last editor moved to be near her family in Yorkshire.  She did not have a computer but I did, though I only used it for photography!

I have gone through the teething problems and set up a routine for the bimonthly issues but I feel some help would inject some fresh ideas. Please consider having a go.  There is also the Press report that only requires someone at the coffee morning to make notes.

Please contact me at a meeting or ring: 01722 501218

                                                                                                                                 Sheila Read


Articles for Issue 57 please, by January 5th. 2008

Sheila Read, 12 Chiselbury Grove, Salisbury. SP2 8EP

Email:  s.read.frps@ntlworld.com

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