What on earth was or is Lumbago? It’s something you never hear of now. Growing up, there was so much that I heard the elders saying, things like ‘…my nerves are shot’ or as the famous song goes from the 1960s, ‘…how’s your Berts Lumbago?’ Carbuncles, that’s another thing that seems to have disappeared from the medical issues of modern-day living.
The days when my Grandmother would talk in a whisper, halfway through a normal conversation that her neighbour, Mrs. Watkins had caught whatever it was she didn’t want us kids to know. The type of thing that the late comedian Les Dawson made so funny during his career. The fact is, it didn’t matter that my Grandmother whispered the words, no one could hear them anyway, it’s just that you knew it must be something embarrassing by the fact that she was whispering!
‘Poor old Mr. Shorthouse at number 23 is in hospital with apoplexy!’ That’s something else you never hear these days, but I think I’m right in saying it was a stroke. ‘He’s been overdoing it as dear Mrs. Shorthouse has had him running around the place because she’s been in bed with melancholia.’ That’s depression. Then the whispering would start and no one would know who or what was suffering with whatever.
There were more than one or two of my Grandmother’s neighbours who suffered from what she called Barrell Fever. The image that used to spring to my mind as a young boy was someone who might resemble the shape of a barrel. What she actually meant by it was someone suffering from alcoholism. The mind boggles.
If you’d like to see more antiquated illness names, there’s a website here.