Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Lord Leverhulme was a man who knew what he liked. When you walk through the door of his gallery you are greeted by the erotic Salammbô .

click to get a better look!

He started his collection by buying artworks to advertise his soap.
During repressed Victorian times this was obviously a perfect excuse to choose paintings of naked women.

My favourite is 'The Trepidarium' by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
(top) which hides away in a dark guilty corner. Don't you think he was good at marble? Alma was a dirty old man - but he got away with it by painting his nymphets in classical scenes.

You probably thought she was holding a dildo didn't you?
NO - it's a strigil - used to scrape off the dirt in the days before soap.

I was reminded that I'd run out of soap which I much prefer to gels and squirty stuff. Tesco had some Imperial Leather which also used to come naked with the label stuck right on the soap.

Now it's protected by cellophane and cardboard.

It made me feel quite nostalgic for Pink Camay or Knights Castile.

So what do you use with your strigil?




Blogger Dave said...

I thought this post was starting with a photo of the writer when I first opened your blog today.

I like the smell of Wrights Coal Tar myself.

8:21 am  
Blogger Scarlet-Blue said...

Oh I remember the Camay ads - skin loving lather and all that.
Looks like the Victorians also liked to whip themselves up into a bit of a lather...

9:06 am  
Blogger Mopsa said...

As a teenager I loved Pears soap - the lovely smell, shape and you could see through it! But now the shops are full of fancy translucent stuff, and somehow the too-much-choice thing makes them that bit less desirable.

9:09 am  
Blogger KAZ said...

A natural mistake to make.
She looks almost as idle as MOI - but not as gorgeous of course.

I think Camay was the first soap to make promises it couldn't keep. But everyone could sing that song.
Altogether now ....

Yes - Pears was very special.
The too-much-choice thing makes 'special' difficult to identify.

10:28 am  
Blogger Istvanski said...

I knew someone who had a pet pig that she washed with Lux soap. It wasn't her husband though...

Being a belated party goer doing the catch up rounds and just to say;

"I was sent here by MJ from Infomaniac"

How do?

11:24 am  
Blogger Old Wom Tigley said...

Give me carbolic anyday...

I remember stand up baths in the old Belfast sink in the back kitchen... mum would leave us standing there buck naked while she nipped into the front room to watch a certain turn on The London Palladium..
Happy Days

12:01 pm  
Blogger SSS said...

I could only use Simple soap when I was a young 'un due to my ezcema. I remember the Imperial Leather ad when it seemed the whole family were using one bar of soap, were they on a 'plane or something stupid like that? I think the other one I always coveted was Lux but it could have been Camay. The ad was a woman getting a right lather up with her bar and rubbing it into her cheek.

12:56 pm  
Blogger SSS said...

Oh, I didn't answer the question. Today I am mostly using Johnson & Johnson shower gel. Smells nice and doesn't leave my skin feeling like sandpaper. Which is nice.

12:58 pm  
Blogger Geoff said...

I use Pears and my skin is as soft as a babby's arse.

1:08 pm  
Blogger xl said...

Bar: Ivory. Love the smell.

Squirty: Aveeno fragrance-free oatmeal body wash. Silky.

1:55 pm  
Blogger Mr Coppens said...

I still rely on Calgon to Take Me Away!

Most husbands should avoid having a decent strigil laying about because they can easily be replaced.

2:53 pm  
Blogger Liz said...

I thought that the lady in the painting was holding a snakes head.


I don't have any real preference for soap. At the moment, I am alternating between using my fella's Original Sauce shower gell (mint) or my own Dove soap.

3:03 pm  
Blogger MJ said...

Like Napoleon with Josephine, my lovers beg me not to bathe, for they wish to enjoy my scent to its fullest.

Saves on water bills too!

Oh Hai XL!

And Istvanski!

3:45 pm  
Blogger Rog said...

Soap on a Rope.

Those old soap ads cost millions to make with castles and Boeings. Now we just get women sitting around talking about being bloated.

3:50 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Hi Istvanski:
You are very welcome - any mate of Geoff's is a mate of mine. :)I wonder if George Clooney washes his pig with LUX?

..... and you were 22 at the time!I bet she was watching Johnny Ray.

I use Simple products for everything.

The J&J gel sounds nice - but that stuff always feels cold when you squirt it on the skin.

You're as smooth as - er - Smooth fm.

I don't think we get Ivory over here.
I Googled it and discovered a) it floats and b) it grows to many times its own size if you microwave it.
What an eduation.

4:27 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Isn't Calgon a water softener? I have to ask because Manchester has the softest water possible.
True - but you can't cuddle a strigil can you?

The statue of Salammbô is holding a snake and I suspect Alma-Tadema deliberately made the strigil look like a snake.

Ah - those famous pheromones of yours.

At least they could discuss it in the bath.
Is that a good idea for the recession?
2 ads for the price of one.

4:28 pm  
Anonymous NiC said...

Is that Salammbô from Essex? She appears to be wearing gold ankle bracelets.

5:30 pm  
Blogger tony said...

I Used "Simple Soap" to match my personality!

5:55 pm  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

Gosh I remember Camay and Knights Castille soap!

Re your comment on Tony's blog about IPA - They do have IPA and other real ales at Bury, I can recommend a visit!

6:24 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

We have a real life strigil in the museum where I work and I often get a thrill (smallish) wondering about the last person to use it... some high ranking Roman official perhaps or even a wealthy celt who traded it for a nice cow-horn tattoo or two... I think Adam Hart Davis used one on TV once - rubbed himself with olive oil and then scraped it off with the strigil - and said it was amazingly effective at getting you clean. However I think he was referring to his lily-white skin rather than his thoughts...

7:10 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

How perceptive of you - I rather like them.
According to Flaubert's novel (which I started but couldn't finish) Salammbô hails from Carthage which might as well be in Essex as far as I know.

I couldn't possibly comment.

Hi Akelamalu:
I shall certainly visit soon and take in Bury market as well.
I'll be the one wearing a pink carnation - so give me a wave.

Now you can imagine one of Alma's ladies instead - much nicer.
..... dashes off to find pics of Johnnie Depp and Richard Gere to erase image of Adam Hart Davis with oil and strigil.

8:58 pm  
Blogger Kevin Musgrove said...

Proper brick-red carbolic, cut off the block in the hardware shop.

9:02 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Hi Kevin:
And I bet you use it in a tin bath on the hearth rug in front of a blazing fire.
Who needs a strigil - you'll have very little skin left's the phenol.

9:33 pm  
Blogger The Poet Laura-eate said...

Pink Camay or Knights Castile...? Whatever happened to them...?

Kaz, don't tell me - you wear Tweed perfume as well!

Quite so, why on earth do we need thousands of soaps and scents to choose from nowadays?

Even 'Pink' by Gap has been discontinued, which is my own favourite and must now be procured via

11:09 pm  
Blogger BEAST said...

Do you remember the dreadful Shield , a blue marbled horror for people with 'personal freshness' issues
I have a soft spot for Wrights Coal Tar

2:34 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

'Tweed'? Isn't he now known as Jade Goody's widower?
I never thought of buying soap on E-Bay. Does the scent disappear if the auction takes too long?

I'd forgotten Shield - just shows that spending a fortune on advertising doesn't guarantee success.
But you can't go Wrong with Wrights.

8:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One has to admire the finagling of Lord Leverhulme. I'm surprised a soap isn't named after him. Leverhulme, it suggests scent. Then I remembered we have a soap here called Lever 2000. Not quite the same thing but I'm intrigued now and must buy some. You soap pimp!

9:37 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Hi Leazwell:
Well - there's a first for everything - I've definitely never been called a soap pimp before. :)I don't think we have Lever 2000 over here.
It is most certainly made by Unilever which originated with Lord Leverhulme but is now a multinational.

10:41 pm  
Blogger garfer said...

I've got a large biscuit tin of 'complimentary guest soaps' in a variety of mostly French flavours. Some of them have been nibbled by mice, but you can have the lot for a fiver if you promise not to sell them on Ebay.

If you ask me the strigil was the forerunner of the dildo.

10:17 pm  
Blogger inkspot said...

Cusson's Imperial Leather for me too, all the way. And scented candles; I'm in touch with my feminine side.

The art establishment sneers uniformly at Alma Tadema. I don't know why, they can't explain it, and they're dead wrong. Wankers. Talking of which, the vibrator was invented shortly after this was painted.

12:28 am  
Blogger KAZ said...

Biscuit tin?
Bourbon and rich tea flavours I presume.
Or Nice if they are really French.
Actually - I didn't ask - but I bet you're correct.

Hi Inkspot:
We have Alma-Tadema's 'Silver Favourites' in Manchester City art gallery.
When stressed I would visit during my luch hour for a quick look.
Looks like Garfer was right ....for once.

12:16 pm  
Blogger tony said...


6:44 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Thanks Tony!

6:58 pm  

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