February 6, 2010 at 9:22 am | Posted in Aunt Fanny, Dick, Eating and Drinking, George, Joan the Cook | Leave a comment
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Residual guilt over Christmas indulgence and a pathetic lack of cycling in recent weeks have prevented me attempting Dan Lepard’s recipe for ginger beer scones, published in the Saturday Guardian a couple of weeks ago. A non canonical recipe, no doubt, but given the Five’s penchant for unusual combinations of food, I suspect they might like the idea of getting their daily ginger beer and scone fix in one convenient package (washed down with yet more ginger beer?). So I’ll return to this one in the near future…

Meanwhile, in the spirit of detoxification that seems to be taking over now that January is finally over (who can give up comfort food during this long, dark month?), this post is about soap. I was given Five Fall into Adventure for Christmas. This is the novel in which the Five first meet ragamuffin Jo, one of the few child characters to recur across a number of the FF stories. I’ll leave aside some of less PC elements of this book but note that the rather dirty and smelly Jo receives a number of good scrubbings at the hands of Joan the Cook. Cleanliness is next to Godliness as they say, and once Jo samples Joan’s food, and dons some of George’s clean and well-worn old togs (to say nothing of developing a serious crush on Dick), she gives up a life of petty criminality and, to keep going with the bath metaphors, throws her towel in with the Kirrins.

For me, old fashioned soap means Pears. Invented by Andrew Pears in a factory in London’s Soho in 1789, this lovely amber tablet was purportedly the world’s first transparent soap. Mr Pears developed it as a gentle product that would stand in contrast to the lead and arsenic in other soaps of the time, and he gave it a traditional, yet subtly exotic, country fragrance by using rosemary, thyme and the all-important and mysterious ‘Pears Fragrance Essence’. I bought a bar of Pears recently and thought it seemed different to how I remembered it – little did I know there had a been a recent outcry over changes to its 200 year old recipe. The original contained just 8 natural ingredients; the new formula has over 20 chemical ones. Due to protests, including a facebook group no less, this new version will soon be withdrawn, with the traditional Pears back in the shops come March.

One company selling stocks of the old Pears is the super Carbolic Soap Company. Their product range includes these delightfully lurid pink carbolic soaps (left), as well as washboards, scrubbing brushes, wooden clothes pegs and Mitchell’s wool fat soap – in short, everything Aunt Fanny and Joan need to keep Kirrin Cottage and its inhabitants sparkling and clean.


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