Saturday, February 14, 2009

Out of their heads most of the time


I very seldom quote directly from my OU course books because I want to make this blog my stuff but I couldn't help being a bit struck by this

....it made me laugh and tingle in every toe and finger tip. Davy has actually invented a new pleasure for which language has no name...I am going for more this evening; it makes one so strong and happy! And without any after-debility, but, instead of it, increased strength of mind and body

That was in a letter written by the Romantic poet Robert Southey and he was describing the effects of nitrous oxide, a substance we know better as laughing gas.

Yes, it was Humphrey Davy who developed this gas - it had already been identified and wrongly classed as being poisonous. By a series of having a right old time experiments, in which he inhaled various quantities of the gas of different degrees of purity until he could be sure it was safe, he was able to increase the well-being of people. Well, actually, not so much the well-being - it just gave them something to take that made them feel good and it was perfectly legal. There were nitrous oxide parties everywhere, most notably in the Lake District with all those Romantic poets absolutely out of their heads and writing poetry that didn't make much sense.

What a great time to have been alive.

the picture above is nothing to do with chemical experiments - it's my Valentine bouquet which was delivered earlier - two dozen red roses - a much better way to become euphoric.

24 comments:

Cynthia said...

French Fancy, I can't hide the smile on my face...my husband thinks I'm a little loopy because I get so entertained by my blogging buddies words...sometimes he asks me if I am on the phone...today,
Him: Why are you laughing? Is someone there? Me: Just a little post-gas...laughing-gas, I mean! Thanks for the entertainment from your OU course...connecting the Romantics and chemistry...clever...maybe you'll enjoy this course after all.

lakeviewer said...

Fun and informative. I guess each generation has had a crutch to help them create, or rather, forget themselves so they could create. Interesting.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

That is so interesting, FF, I never knew about the laughing gas, although they were always out of their heads on some substance or another!

Beautiful flowers, I think I'm going off to snort some laughing gas now! xx

Brother Tobias said...

I rather enjoyed nitrous oxide, although I felt pretty out of it afterwards. Is that the wire from a champagne cork beside the euphoric roses? Euphoria rules!

Larry M. Brow said...

Ah yes, nitrous.... It wasn't my fault. It would have been impolite to refuse. And if you ever get the chance.....among friends....do.

The Accidental Fan said...

They should have gone drag racing with it, what a waste!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

This chemistry course sounds more and more intriguing! Lovely roses too :)

ian_l@shaw.ca said...

And a Happy Valentine's Day to you, laughing gas or roses not withstanding.

natural attrill said...

Never tried it myself, wouldnt mind a go though!
Beautiful roses, lucky you.
Hope you have a wonderful valentines evening.
Penny.
x

Jennysmith said...

I've always wanted to try laughing gas. I've only ever seen it on the TV. It must make your stomach muscles ache after a while - but well worth it.

Your flowers are beautiful. We only exchange cards (and the Cat sends one) and maybe some Num-nums.
xxxx

Steve said...

Laughter is always a gas at the best of times...

Blu said...

It explains so much, I have often thought they may have been a bit high, on something other than love.

French Fancy said...

Cynthia - yes indeed, the OU course is now linking up to all the previous months. We even had a bit about Napoleon (my second Block) awarding Davy some medal - after his own French chemists couldn't beat what Davy had done.

lakeviewer - it does seem like there has always been 'outlets' for people in one way or another - I had my share :)

AWONI - I'd love to try some nitrous oxide, although I'm quite a giggler without any extra help

BroTob - Oh you've had some? Excellent and I'm a bit jealous. Yes - it is a cork but a sparkling wine one, not a champagne one - well, we had to economise somehow.

Larry - you too? I don't know if I'm having my leg pulled or if you - and Brother Tobias - have indulged. I really want some now. Always a sheep, that was my problem.

TAF - so those drag racing vehicles run on the stuff? What a waste to stuff it into cars - put it into people

Contem Troub - yes it is a fascinating course but I have to admit to enjoying last year's better. That was a big big mix of different literary works and I think that is the direction I will be going in from now on - despite the heavy reading load.

Ian - hello there - I had a lovely day and am very lucky, as no doubt your lady was as well

natural attrill - Hello Pen I'd join you in some - wasn't there a vogue for oxygen parties a few years back? Well, I missed out on that as well

Jen - show off - with your stomach muscles - I've yet to find mine. I keep trying to remember to hold it in but it's easier not to.

Steve- yes, it is a gas man

French Fancy said...

Blu - well Tom de Quincy was on opium and he was a very close friend of Wordsworth so I reckon that was what helped William adore those daffs so much. As for the rest of those poets - I guess laudanum also helped the creative muse visit them.

Moannie said...

Mary Shelley, Byron and Co. were the crazy rockers of their time and she had to be sniffing or dropping some substance to come up with Frankenstein.

ladyfi said...

What a gas! And flowers too...

justme said...

My dentist used to give me laughing gas when I was a child! I am sure that would be illegal now. But it was definately cool! You can't buy it in Boots can you? Hmmmm!

French Fancy said...

Moannie - this has really made me want to find out about the Romantics and substance abuse.

Ladyfi - Mr FF is lovely - I'm very lucky


justme - you lucky thing - I wonder if dentists used to have a gasp of it now and then

Phil Lowe said...

Laughing gas? I'm sure that's what I used to have at the dentists as a kid and just before I went off I would see merry go rounds and dancing horses!Bring it on!

nikkicrumpet said...

My dentist in Utah knew how deathly afraid of him that I was...he used to hook me up to that stuff before he did any work. It always made going to the dentist a heck of a lot more fun lol. Very pretty flowers...looks like you had a great day!

French Fancy said...

Phil - what a great way to make kids look forward to going to the dentist. Now of course I wish I'd had extractions back then - it would have been worth it

nikki- you lucky thing. I would have invented problems just to get the gas

Brother Tobias said...

Like Justme, mine was at the dentist. Although I did get talked into trying some pretty inappropriate things nicked from the chemistry lab at school - ether and chloroform. I really do not recommend either of them.

Mama said...

There is a really funny utube video at the moment with a kid who has just been to the dentist and is as high as a kite, have you seen it?. IHOP's Pancakes are good but by the time I am done with the full breakfast I can't face the stack of Pancakes, so I take a bite from Vanni's which does not go down to well with him :-). IMHO though IHOP's do the best Fish n chips I have tasted over here, but come this Friday I will be queuing up at the local chippie for my fix of Cod n Chips and mushy peas YAY!!. off to pack. ttfn. Kathy.

French Fancy said...

BroTob - you were a juvenile delinquent after my own heart.

Mama -you have the pancakes after the breakfast? I don't know if I could manage so much so early. By lunchtime I would have no trouble though :)

I didn't realise you were off to the UK this month? I thought it was March.Happy packing, I'm going to miss you.