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23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024

Crossing the English Channel

It was 1924 and we were about to cross to France to stay with the d'Arcys in Aisne for the Easter holidays. Before I collected the boys at St. Ronan's [so actually 1923 perhaps] an advertisement in the Morning Post which seemed likely to offer a very present help in trouble, caught my eye. It was for a patent sea-sick[ness] preventative called the 'SEA-JOY PLASTER'; a large forbidding-looking, adhesive pad covered with holes like a colander, which once applied to ones stomach where it stuck like a leech, was guaranteed to quell all sea-sick tremors and render the happy user immune to even the roughest weather.

None of us were proven sailors, so full of good intentions I purchased four and presented them to the boys and their cousin Charlotte who was with us, on the train taking us from Worthing to embark on the packet [boat] at Newhaven. All three viewed their acquisitions with deep gloom, but obediently accepted them and during the journey we made our ways one by one down the corridor to the lavatory to glue them to our tummies.

Alas, what a dismal failure they were! The crossing was the roughest that year and on the boats of those days there was little room below, so we crouched wretchedly on deck, buffeted by the wind, soaked by the spray and all of us being dismally sick over the side for four long hours in spite of those Sea-Joy Plasters which clung clammily and uncomfortably under our wet clothes.

Those four hours of crossing were possibly the dreariest we have ever survived, but once ashore at Dieppe we recovered rapidly and ate a splendid meal on the train to Paris. All would have been lovely but for those wretched plasters. They clung like limpets; nothing could remove them; in that at least they were effective. So easy to apply, so futile in action, so distasteful to wear and so hard to shed. It was days before we managed finally to peel off the last remnants and the experience cured us almost for ever of any urge to try such patent remedies again.