I have a folder in my filing cabinet into which I throw stuff that grabs my attention – generally of a bizarre nature. Time to share some I think…I lived in Singapore in the mid-1960s when it was a much different place. Most of the old Chinese shop-houses are torn down now and replaced by high-rise buildings. But in 1965 I took a photograph of this long-established business.It would seem that Singaporean Chinese in the early 20th Century had continuing troubles with their eyesight and their nether regions. So it clearly made sense for this entrepreneur to establish a one-stop shop…And talking about the nether regions, I came across this faded scrap of yellowing paper containing the instructions for a Japanese device, The Ichijiku Enema. Now I cannot say I actually owned this apparatus, but the instructions were passed to me (so to speak) by a colleague. The problems of translating Japanese and Chinese into English are legion, and the Ichijiku Enema is a case in point. First the reasons for using the device: Efficacy: Constipation, fever due to constipation, convulsive fit, headache, flatulency and dizziness. Note: It is a matter of common sense in family nursing that in case attacked with an acute intestines disease, such as infant dysentery, the patient be given first-hand treatment by enema at home, and then a doctor to be sent for. For women, constipation gets rough of the face and is an enemy to beauty. For the old aged, constipation promotes the infirmities of age. For gentleman and students, constipation has serious influence on busyness and study by dullness of the head. I think it best in the interests of delicacy to avoid spelling out the detailed instructions of how to actually use the enema apparatus, and cut to the punch-line:Before long the bowels move, control yourself as long as possible. When being unbearable, have a good passage. Excellent advice really, and a good philosophy of life for grumpy old persons.But it seems that the efficacy of enemas for a variety of conditions stretches back into the 18th and 19th Centuries:
- TOBACCO SMOKE ENEMA (1750s-1810s) The tobacco enema was used to infuse tobacco smoke into a patient's rectum for various medical purposes, primarily the resuscitation of drowning victims. A rectal tube inserted into the anus was connected to a fumigator and bellows that forced the smoke towards the rectum. The warmth of the smoke was thought to promote respiration, but doubts about the credibility of tobacco enemas led to the popular phrase, 'Blow smoke up someone's arse'.