by Reg Dixon
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Episode 22 - "Godfrey's Cordial" (May 18th 1998 4.40pm)
Yaxley Farcett relaxed in the armchair as Anne Worthington continued with her rehearsal for a talk she was to give the Banham Historical Society, 'Opium Eating in the Fens'. She took a sip from a glass of water and began..........
'The so called 'Fen Syndrome' has a history that begins in the nineteenth century. In those days, many farm labourers took cold 'poppy tea' with them to work for their 'Dockey' which, for those of you who don't know, is the Fenland term for a mid morning break. This tea would probably have kept them stupified for most of the day and would have been produced from opium poppies grown in their own back gardens. A Doctor who wrote a book based on his experiences of working in this area said that he believed the tea was the cause of the amount of feeble minded people to be found in the Fens.
Until 1868 when the Pharmacy Act was passed, opium could be bought from Chemists, Grocers, Drapers, Bootmenders, Iron Mongers or a Bakers. One of the common ways of taking the opium was in a tincture called, 'Godfrey's Cordial'. The origin of that quaint name is unknown, but I suspect and my friend Mrs. Laurie Robertson backs me up on this, is that it's a play on "God's Free Cordial'. Well, I know enough of you refer to Water as 'God's Wine'.......' At this point, Mrs.Worthington looked embarassedly at Yaxley Farcett. 'Ooh. I don't mean you love" Yaxley smiled. 'I can see you're getting into this. Pretend I'm a packed Village Hall; two hundred eager amateur historians hanging on your every word. I know I am' he said encouragingly.
Anne Worthington peered at her notes and continued...'After the 1868 act was passed, Chemists were able to carry on selling opium as they had complained that a ban would cause them 'financial hardship' !!!!! During the 1800's Chemists kept stocks of up to forty gallons of Godfrey's Cordial which they willingly dispensed to the addicts of The Isle of Ealham, Wisbech, March, Chatteris, Littleport and all the associated hamlets and Droves. But I'm sure the good folk of Barnham never touched the stuff' she added with a very cheeky, thought Yaxley, grin....'And ' finished Mrs.Worthington ' this was a hundred years before Grange Hill and 'JUST SAY NO !!'
At this point Yaxley held up his hand and asked her a question. 'Did any of your old relations ever tell you about any of this stuff ?' Anne picked up the cassette from her desk. It was the recording of her husband John's Grandmother, Joan, that she had made years before. 'Well, on this tape she hints that her mother in law had been a bit of an amateur Nurse in regard to the 'quietening' of children. If any of the women came to work on the land and hadn't got anywhere to put their kids, Joan said that Old Millie would see to them and make sure their mum's could get a full day's work done on the land. Joan reckons that Millie kept her own stocks of Godfrey's Cordial here on the farm somewhere. She could tell what was coming with the new laws being passed so she kept some by for the future, being a bit of a wily old woman by all accounts' Yaxley found this hard to comprehend. It certainly clashed with his image of drug dealers looking like extras in an episode of 'Miami Vice'. An old woman in a cardigan and wearing fingerless mittens with a stock pile of Category A drugs took some imagining..................
The prologue - Episode One - Episode 2 - Episode 3 - Episode 4 - Episode 5 - Episode 6 - Episode 7 - Episode 8 - Episode 9 - Episode 10 - Episode 11- Episode 12 - Episode 13 - Episode 14 - Episode 15 - Episode 16 - Episode 17 - Episode 18 - Episode 19 - Episode 20 - Episode 21 - Episode 23 - Cast List - 'Did you see the wrist watch in Ben Hur' ?- The Colly Continuity Page.
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Who Dunnit? Your suggestions Please.
MG says "I reckon it were suicide. You see, Reg was quite obviously a bit iron hoof or POOF as we call 'em, and in them there days, well it wer'nt propper wus it?
James Brown says "I suspect a fallen pitchfork from one of the overhead helicopters ferrying a local farmer to the office of KLFM for one of their match reports on a Lynn home game."
World Leader reckons "I think that Monica woman did it. Damn girl never could keep her mouth shut. And she was always letting things drop". Yours World Leader