New Age Killers
If you are a fan of the ‘ever-increasing in popularity’ channel BBC 4 you may have seen the excellent programme ‘Hidden Killers of the Victorian Age’. We interviewed the presenter, historian and author Dr Suzannah Lispcomb about her work discovering the lethal killers that lurked in every room of the Victorian home.
It was a time of great innovation as they lapped up the latest products, gadgets and conveniences but in an age with no health and safety standards they were unwittingly turning their homes into hazardous death traps. While they confronted the challenges of ruling an empire, perhaps the most dangerous environment they faced was their own homes.
Suzannah revealed some horror tales of wallpaper laced with arsenic and lead in the paint as people revelled in the idea of brightly coloured walls in their homes, children picked off the wallpaper (as they are want to do) and had horrible symptoms.
Women were so determined to have a tiny waist they squeezed themselves into corsets with metal eyelets to pull the strings even tighter. We laugh now at the images of swooning Victorian women with heaving bosoms pushed high by metal corsets and remember how they seemed to need smelling salts at all times, yet this practice continued even through pregnancy and caused serious damage to their internal organs.
It was the age when women eschewed the benefits of breast milk and offered their tots formula milk in glass bottles with rubber teats that were cleaned only every three weeks or so, by which time massive amounts of bacteria had developed.
‘Silly Victorians!’ you may cry and yet their follies enabled us to safeguard ourselves. How much we owe them! But I can’t help but wonder what a documentary in several hundred years might say about our age. ‘Obvious killers of the 2000s’ could be the headline and no doubt the historians of the future will talk with wry amusement about the ‘Warned generation’ that whilst continuing with known carcinogens such as mercury fillings in their teeth, bottle-fed babies (albeit sterilising the teats), highly process foods with high levels of sugar and artificial sweeteners, misuse of medication and intervention and added in a dangerous dose of synthetic hormone disrupting chemicals into household and personal care products. And the biggest one of all in my view, the mass ‘experiment’ of the infiltration Electro Magnetic Fre- quencies on the human race!
The ‘look back to the 2000s’ report might say ‘Some women of the age wore ‘shape-wear’ and tried strict calorie-controlled diets. To look younger they underwent the knife in strange, expensive surgical procedures and opted for injections into their face known as ‘Botox’ - a treatment popular with the rich and famous. Despite lessons learnt from their Victorian peers they still bombarded their homes and personal care products with potentially toxic chemicals.
Lets hope it’s not the case: wouldn’t it be great if the documentary of the future said we were aligned with faith, hope, sustainability and were open to the holistic approach for the greater good.