Nutmeg in Her Knickers

Nutmeg + Mace

Nora, when asked about her bloomers,
Answered, it was fact, not rumours,
That nutmegs were a certain cure,
For rheumatism, t’was for sure,
It was not just an old wives tale,
A spud, or nutmeg could not fail,
If secreted next the skin
By corset or knickers to keep it in,
Would cure rheumatics or the ‘screws’,
When confined inside one’s trews,
(Wool Combinations would not do,
– Too many slits, so nuts fell through).*

 

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Myristica fragrans

Like attracts Like

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In Wales, red is considered a colour of many virtues, the mighty Red Dragon being a fine example. One remedy that springs readily to mind when I think of the colour red is an old cure for pains associated with rheumatism; applying a red flannel to the troubled area was supposed to ease the pain. My Grandad taught me that one after I’d told him of a strange encounter I’d had with a man in the lane who had a very strange odour.

I’d bumped into a of my Grandad’s workmates, (I could always spot a workmate by looking at his eyes). He came flying towards me round a bend in the lane as if in a terrible hurry and we all but collided. We both apologised profusely and started to exchange a few token pleasantries, before preparing to bid him ‘Good morning’ and be on my way. I suddenly noticed a strange smell coming from his person, it was a mix between Rosemary and cow dung. I tried to discreetly cover my nose and back away from him when he started to chuckle. He explained that he had a boil the size of Old Betty’s donkey’s buttocks on his neck and Old Betty swore by it as a cure, explaining that he had cow dung smeared inside a rag round about his throat, bid me ‘good morning’ and off he went!

I relayed the tale to my Grandad when I got home later that day and was amazed after the telling of it, the only thing he had to say was, ‘What colour was the rag?’ I thought back and said, ‘I think it was red.’

‘Ah,’ he nodded, explaining a little more, ‘the red’s for the heat, the dung’s for the cure. The Rosemary’s to hinder the smell. Colours can be quite powerful in their own right so they reckon,  works with other stuff too like scarlet fever, but you best hope you don’t get that! Yellow for jaundice, green for…… well, you get me, I won’t go on, just think on, red represents heat, like attracts like, a good one to rememeber.’ And remember it I did.

 

*Nutmeg in her Knickers

 
My friend’s Auntie Nora

Kept nutmegs in her drawers
Making dents in her dimpled knees,
When she knelt to scrub the floors.

Modern lassies might well ponder,
Also causing them to wonder,
HOW the nutmegs could remain,
Without them falling out again.
But THEY know only scanty panties,
NOT the voluminous ones like Auntie’s,
At knee and waist elasticated,
Keeping the wearer well protected.
Re-enforced with gusset (double),
Keeping the maidens out of trouble.

Nora, when asked about her bloomers,
Answered, it was fact, not rumours,
That nutmegs were a certain cure,
For rheumatism, t’was for sure,
It was not just an old wives tale,
A spud, or nutmeg could not fail,
If secreted next the skin
By corset or knickers to keep it in,
Would cure rheumatics or the ‘screws’,
When confined inside one’s trews,
(Wool Combinations would not do,
– Too many slits, so nuts fell through).

Aunt scoffed at girls’ bikini briefs,
She swore to her own beliefs
They were too small for the wearers’ good,
No room to spare for spice or spud!
(And as for tights and skinny jeans,
-They’d crush the nuts to smithereens!).

Copyright The Grandmother – K Davenport ’93

Found in Old Wives’ Tales

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