Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Muck and Filthe" B-Heads

The marketing dept. of the publisher I'm writing for is full of people who have their ... how shall I put it?... well, who have their Degrees in Marketing.
And they have decreed that my history of sanitation book for teens shall be called something I cannot tell you because of legal constraints (really, until the book is published, it is legally the publisher's secret), but believe me, it's lame. 
Lame, and clunky.

In truth, I didn't come up with very great titles myself, but at least they didn't sound like a bag of garbage being dragged down stairs. 

Anyway, I've now got all sorts of fun titles for chapters and B-heads (the sections within chapters), mostly drawn from quotes. 

Like Muck and Filthe, from a letter 54 London slum-dwellers wrote to the Times in 1849:

“We live in muck and filthe. We aint got no privez [privies, or outhouses], no dust bins, no drains, no water splies, and no drain or suer in the whole place. ... The Stenche of the Gully-hole is disgustin. We al of us suffur, and numbers are ill....”
And––also from 1849 (the year of a cholera epidemic)–– A Derangement of Stomach and Bowels, the words newly retired president James Polk used to describe what he suffered after he caught the cholera that would kill him.

This is my absolutely favorite quote, below. It's from the records of the London assize of nuisance (the court that heard nuisance complaints).

Seems Bad Neighbors are a staple of history, and so are do-it-yourselfers who do it wrong.

But actually, I admire this Alice Wade, who came up with her own solution to the sanitary shortfalls of medieval London. The court heard this complaint against her in 1310:
...Alice Wade has made a wooden pipe connecting the seat  of the privy in her solar [a "solitary" room], with the gutter (provided to receive the rainwater and other water draining from the houses), which is frequently stopped up by the filth therefrom, and the neighbours under whose houses the gutter runs are greatly inconvenienced by the stench. 
Judgment that she remove the pipe within 40 days etc."
--From "London assize of nuisance 1301-1431: A calendar," British History Online

The manuscript is due in ONE WEEK, so off I go!


Zhoen said...

The Filth and the Fury. Really obvious, I'd've thought.

deanna said...

Sending you good vibes as you approach the wire. Leave it to you to leave me interested in potty talk. :)

Fresca said...

Bless you, Zhoen! You don't have a Degree in Marketing, do you?
No, of course you don't. They would never have thought of such a great title--worthy of Graham Greene or suchlike.

Thanks for the vibes, Deanna. Anything to keep my brain awake...
This topic really is interesting (but my brain is a bit tired of thinking about it).

Anonymous said...

BINK SAYS: Deanna came up with a great title: Potty Talk!
That would get kids interested. This is going to be such a fun book!

I can never make comments from my iPad. Is there a setting on your end that can be changed? This isn't a problem with other blogs... But maybe it's a blogger vs, wordpress issue.

mostly the way I read stuff nowadays on my iPad but I feel like I have to wait to read your stuff on my computer, which means I don't get to it regularly. Boo- hoo!

Fresca said...

I think that title's taken, bink---lots of the best or most obvious ones are. It's too late now anyway---Marketing Has Spoken!

I'll look at my settings and see if I've somehow blocked mobile devices...

Bianca Castafiore? said...

sorry i'm always behind on your projects. more sorry that you weren't allowed to do the titling, or at least have veto power. it's a fascinating topic and you remind me of a foucault. you've found a universal element of human life, the investigation of which allows a cross-section look at society. the archaeology of the... garderobe. best of luck as you tie up the loose ends.

i frequently wonder how i'd have fared in those earlier centuries -- mostly blind, a sensitive nose, obsession with cleanliness. busy, clean, and alone... that's what i'd have been. busy, clean, and alone!

btw, thanks for eliminating the prove-you-are-not-a-bot eye test.

Fresca said...

Hi, BIANCA (?)!
You win the prize for knowing the word "garderobe"! I didn't, until I started this project.

I should make a Wordle of my text.

Obsessed with cleanliness... yeah, that would've been hard to pull off for most of history, eh?

I wish I'd eliminated that awful fuzzy word verification sooner.