Tudor semis, housewives and bodily fluids

Tudorsemi I heard a wonderful programme on the radio this afternoon heading back to the office which was a blend of history and anthropology and the impact of the building of suburbs on British life. A History of Private Life by Amanda Vickery (Dunroamin Ep29) makes for compulsive listening. She documents the disdain of the intelligentsia for the vulgarity of suburbia while showing how these identical houses transformed life for those who had been living in 2 up 2 down terraces. For one thing they had indoor toilets. For another they had their own bathroom.

An interesting prequel to the 1950s which is really as far back as modern marketing goes. Because it demonstrates that the bogus science and white coats and chemicals brought in to reduce the drudgery of the post war housewife were overlays on a lifestyle which had made privacy possible The generation before had had to bath in tin baths in the kitchen filled by the kettle. The chamberpots had to be brought down every morning from the bedrooms. For the 1950s generation and thereafter the represssion allowed them almost to forget that human beings are animals too. Its interesting to compare how our sensibility is still affected – green marketing and the notion of what is organic and natural is dainty by comparison with life at the start of the 20th century. The prurience of the 1950s might have had a lot to do with the housing. It still has a hold on us.

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