Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Fletcherising and fossils

The Internet has been an absolute gift to me as an inveterate searcher of trivia and facts. I'm able to satisfy any cravings for knowledge at the click of a mouse, and with my trusty smartphone, can even do it in the middle of the night as has been known.

Last night, for some reason, I remembered an elderly man I once interviewed when I was working as a gauche young reporter at BBC Radio Devon. His name was Edwin Beer and he was over 100. His great age, and the secrets of longevity, was the reason for the interview.

He was the first to use the disabled lift at our newish Exeter headquarters and was a fantastic raconteur. He told me that the secret to his longevity - and he was the second oldest man in Britain when he died at age 107 in 1986 - was Fletcherising.

This is the practice of chewing your food 32 times before swallowing, made popular in the early 1930s by Horace Fletcher.

Well, having remembered Edwin Beer, I began feverishly searching the web to see what I could learn about him. To start with I wasan't doing very well. There was a famous urologist called Edwin Beer and a famous sculptor called Edwin Beer Fishley. But recalling that he had told me he was involved with the invention of the fake silk, rayon, I broadened my search and found a reference to him at the Devon county council website, where it named a book he wrote in 1968, The Beginning of Rayon: Corrigenda and Supplement.

Knowing now that his full name was Edwin John Beer, formerly of Paignton, I discovered an article from an issue of Geology Today in 1989 which described the Edwin Beer Collection.

Leicester University had become the lucky recipient of a large collection of geological specimens. The collection was formed over a long period by Edwin Beer (1879 - 1986) and was donated by his widow Phoebe. "Beer had led an active and eventful life. He was by profession a chemist and was a pioneer in perfecting the process for making artificial fibres."

Searching Leicester University turned up no additional clues. My search on Edwin Beer's remarkable life seems to have ended for the time, with no photographs gleaned. Stay tooned for the next instalment.

I've just bought the book for £6.50 on ebay!


Sharon J said...

It must take an awfully long time to eat a meal if everything has to be chewed 32 times. My guess is all those extra years he had were actually spent chewing food. Lol.

Maggie May said...

I can remember my dad telling us as children that we should chew our food 32 times! Seems an odd number of times. Anyway......... it went in one ear & out the other & I do eat far too quickly!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

William said...

Adult human has 32 teeth ... must have been the reason for giving a number of 32 to the chewing rule.

Diana Barnes said...

I knew Mr beer very well. he was the most fascinating man. The last of the breed of scientists who learned by experiments and experience rather than by books. His travels and his love for his first wife shone through his conversations.
A true gentleman, he asked my father's permission to escort me to the pictures. We went to see "Journey to the centre of the Earth" , the early version. All the way through he scornfully passed comments about the impossible geology shown on screen and berated the film producers for including a woman in the story! After he took me to my very first Indian restaurant where he ordered everything in Indian language and complained bitterly about the poppadoms, insisting presumably, they be replaced. More came that satisfied him ! I could go on. What a Character. He instilled into me a love of geology and somehow taught me to live life to the fullest. He has been my role model for life. Funnily enough I am always last to finish a meal, I eat slowly and never, or extremely rarely,suffer from gastric problems!!!
I wonder if this really is a part of longevity?
I shall ponder this for the next 33 years until my centenary.

Flaming Nora said...

I know we are 3 yrs late to the party, but we stumbled upon this post while also researching Edwin Beer. It turns out my mother is in possession of his geological hammer! She is a good friend of his son and her gave it to her. I on the other hand have inherited his wife Phoebe's beautiful rayon dressing gown. I wonder what it must feel like to wear something your husband invented.

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