Friday, December 06, 2019


The Vicar

Graham Robb, The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007), p. 294:
At Nîmes in 1763, Tobias Smollett found 'the Temple of Cloacina' 'in a most shocking condition':
The servant-maid told me her mistress had caused it to be made on purpose for the English travellers; but now she was very sorry for what she had done, as all the French who frequented her house, instead of using the seat, left their offerings on the floor, which she was obliged to have cleaned three or four times a day.
Later tourists would be baffled by bidets and daunted by the porcelain footpads on either side of a small dark hole, but even in simpler days there were mysteries to solve. A traveller in Béarn in 1812 who slept on the third tier of a four-tier bunk bed was woken in the night by a smell and a noise of ropes and pulleys. A voice in the darkness whispered, 'Don't worry, sir, it's just the vicar going up.' 'Vicaire' turned out to be a local name for 'chamber pot'.


<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?