The Curiosity Cabinet – let’s hope the minister of health doesn’t get any ideas

Those keen to contemplate and wonder at who the Merchant of Marvels might really be, and those who like to consider where they have come from in their journey and where they might go, cannot help staring into the glass of the antique Curiosity Cabinet in the Oak Tree Dining Room at Budmarsh.

Filled with trinkets and gadgets and memories and reminders from the past, the lovely old cabinet beckons the curious to wonder what was and how it was, and then to think on how life has changed.

Who wore the monocle? Which brave soldier opened the cigarette tin from the war and whose life did his actions possibly save? Did he save his own life?


A tiny tin of Voortrekker Zalfen from an age long past speaks to the simplicity of healing compounds, while a tin of slimming gum purported to contain tapeworm eggs is a sure indication of progress in matters of slimming.

Fortunately the eggs can’t survive for a whole century in a box. Having read Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi’s decisions to impose draconian laws to prevent obesity, I wonder if there will be a return to the use of tapeworm eggs to expedite slimming!

And smokers, if Motsoaledi has his way, may find they will have booby-trapped cigarettes to help them add years to their lives, unlike the soldiers in the two world wars whose only creature comfort might have been a quick drag on a cigarette sent as an token of gratitude from one or other government.

A battered copper horn that was once held in the hand of a mere boy whose task it was to blow the horn to gather the troops together is another opportunity to hug the tranquillity of Budmarsh closely and acknowledge that perhaps present times are not as bad as we might think.

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