Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Vintage vicar advice: thrash drunks

Researchers at the British Newspaper Archive discovered advice for newly-weds from vicars, including a tip to grooms not to be critical of their wife's baking skills
Researchers at the British Newspaper Archive discovered advice for newly-weds from vicars, including a tip to grooms not to be critical of their wife's baking skills

A catalogue of bizarre, novel and sometimes downright offensive tips from vicars for achieving a better life has been uncovered by the British Newspaper Archive.

The catalogue of quirky tips includes advice to "thrash drunks" - be they man, woman or child - and to lie about your new wife's cooking skills.

Keeping your mother's "ripping tarts" a secret and "don't be a mug", are more of the gems of wisdom offered by Britain's original agony uncles.

Researchers at the British Newspaper Archive discovered the tips and hints once given by the nation's vicars.

According to the Rev AJ Waldorn of Brixton, the key to marital bliss in 1913 was pastry-based diplomacy.

In the Western Gazette he advised: "Whatever you do, don't spoil your wedding day by telling your wife what ripping tarts your mother makes".

If a bride's puddings are not up to scratch, he says, simply "swallow the bride's pie, and tell her it's a dream of delight, and then take a pill on the sly".

The Rev WG Roberts, of Horsley St Clements, was another advocate of diplomacy for maintaining domestic harmony.

His advice from 1939 was to "never tell your wife you are going to be the 'boss'", as he points out that "it is a tactless remark, and is fundamentally untrue".

He adds that "a woman who tells her husband she is going to be 'boss' is sillier still, as it brings the whole thing to a level of brute force".

Roberts also offers tips on choosing a wife.

He warns against judging a woman "by her lips or nose or the quality of her dimples", highlighting that just "because a woman is well dressed it doesn't follow that she is clever" as "some stylishly dressed women are fools".

One vicar made some rather un-Christian suggestions in 1904 telling his parishioners to "thrash the drunks" to prevent "suffering from softness".

He argued a better solution was for a man who has a drunken neighbour to "thrash him for being a scandal to the neighbourhood", and to "thrash anyone in his home who drinks immoderately, whether man, woman, son, or daughter".

Not all of these pearls of wisdom were aimed at husbands.

In 1941, RH Hawkins, vicar of Dalston, warned women that "a war wedding should not be taken in hand", and certainly not be based on a "fear of being left on the shelf" or the "glamour of being the wife of being a man in uniform".

The Rev BG Bourchier had the whole family in mind when he recommended members of a family "should try at least once a year to take their holidays apart".

There was, he noted, "such a thing as being too much together". It is perhaps unsurprising then that Mr Bourchier was a bachelor.

In 1935, an eccentric vicar from Derbyshire was not only offering guidance on family and religious matters, but also appears to have been a font of totally questionable hiking knowledge.

The Rev J S Tucker told readers of the Hull Daily Mail to avoid main roads which he believed were created "by seven devils" to steal the "secrets of the hills".

In 1949, a vicar from Barrow-in-Furness offered some heartfelt advice to gamblers.

A staunch critic of the football pools, he notes how the "£1,500,000" spent on them every week was "badly needed elsewhere" and tells the readers of the Western Morning News: "Don't be mugs".

He points out that the chances of winning are "as remote as the chance of striking a match on a lump of wet soap or opening a tin of salmon with a lump of sausage".

Amy Gregor, spokeswoman for the British Newspaper Archive, said: "The unorthodox advice given in these columns may seem odd to us now, but at the time such advice was taken quite seriously by those who read them.

"Until relatively recently, vicars were at the centre of nearly every community and regarded as a source of wisdom and authority.

"Reviewing newspaper articles from the past is a great way to track social attitudes towards gender roles, politics and popular opinion, and these articles are among the treasures to be found in the archive."

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