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Days when washday would have given you the blues.

North author Carol Cooke also tackles household mess in her latest book, Old Wives' Tales, Spit, Polish and Elbow Grease, with a mixture of reminiscences and tips from people on South Tyneside.

From information on whether to use Meppo, Brasso or HP Sauce on your brasses, or how to make your gold lace look good, to how to make a life-saving proggy mat and prolong the life of work boots by peeing into them, it is full of useful hints.

Carol recalls Monday wash day in Fort Street, South Shields, as a huge event through the tremendous amount of work her mother had to do.

"She started the washing day at 6.30am on a Monday morning and didn't stop until it was over. She had of course filled the boiler the previous day, which meant that she gave herself a head start. She only had to light the boiler before she had her breakfast, then heat the water, poss the clothes, rinse the clothes, starch sheets and towels, wring the garments out, dry them, iron them and put them away ( easy!"

Many old household remedies Carol uses in the book are taken from a scrapbook by Bessie and Kate Thompson, who once lived in Acklington Park, Northumberland. Bessie was the last of the family and died in 1991.

The Thompson book contains this unusual recipe for making starch: "It is a very good plan when making starch to mix with the starch a lump of sugar, and a piece of butter about the size of a hazel nut. This prevents the iron sticking and gives a gloss to the linen."

* Old Wives Tales, Spit, Polish and Elbow Grease by Carol Cooke, is published by Business Education Publishers Limited at pounds 4.95.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 24, 2005
Words:293
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