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I lead workshops at the British Library, on literature, language, art, history, and the culture of the book. Author of Discovering Words, Discovering Words in the Kitchen, Evolving English Explored, Team Talk - sporting words & their origins, Trench Talk - the Language of the First World War (with Peter Doyle); How to Cure the Plague; The Finishing Touch. As an artist I work in performance, public engagement, and intervention using drawing, curating, text, changing things and embroidery.

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Sunday, 26 January 2014

How to balance weight loss


Should you find yourself suddenly losing weight in one area, to the detriment of the balance of your body, you may care to try this late-seventeenth-century remedy.

Bodies unequally thriving

Bodies sometimes fall away in one part, and not in another; if so to bring your Body to even terms: take an ounce and a half of oil of foxes, oil of lilies, and capons grease, and goose grease, of each twoounces; pine, rosin, Greek pitch and turpentine, of each two ounces; boil them together in an earthen glazed vessel; adding then an ounce of the oil of elder, being taken hot from the fire; add someVirgin’s-wax to them, as much as will stiffen the mass, into a searcloth, and when it is almost cold, spread it and apply it to the place that languishes, or does not equally thrive.

The Ladies Dictionary, 1694

A searcloth was more clearly spelled 'cerecloth', originally a waxed cloth, but later one impregnated with some glutinous matter, which could act as a plaster.

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