Probus hear tales of ‘Bald Heids and Sair Bellies’

At the meeting of Ellon Probus Club on September 27, former President Jim Gauld gave a talk on ‘Bald Heids and Sair Bellies’.

Jim had done his homework, and took members on an illustrated journey through the history of hair (or the lack of it), at times hilarious and other times incredibly revealing of the lengths men go to retain their youthful locks and looks.

References to baldness range from the Bible to ancient Egypt, Greek and Roman times. Aristotle (420BC) even had his own hair restorer - including pigeon droppings, while the Romans favoured chicken dung.

The 19th century was the Age of Patent Medicines when there were no rules or regulations on what could be put into a medicine or its claimed powers. For example Dr Sibley’s Tincture promised ‘To restore life in the event of sudden death’ whilst Hamlin’s Wizard Oil could ‘Permanently cure cancer’.

Alcohol featured in many medicines, as did opium, morphine, heroin and cocaine and all were commonly given to children. The powers of these drugs to relieve pain and make folk feel good made them very popular indeed. One wine-cocaine drink was favoured by Pope Leo XIII, who awarded the manufacturing company a gold medal. This wine was also a favourite of Queen Victoria. Even the original Coca-Cola contained cocaine.

The 20th century saw the introduction of a plethora of mechanical devices claiming to cure baldness. These included suction, electrical, heat, uv light, magnetic, laser and antiseptic devices which men willing sat under in perpetual hope. Such gadgets continue to reappear on the market and gullible men continue to buy them. A hearty vote of thanks was given by Charles Reid.

The next meeting is on October 11 when Bill Webster will give a talk on canaries.