I found another occupation I'd never heard of before...a Mungo Grinder. Bet you'll never guess what it involved...though I'll give you a clue and tell you it was a job in a mill...not a corn mill...a woollen mill. Given up? Mungo was a type of Shoddy...the rough utility fabric used for cheap blankets in the late 1800's. It was clean rags mixed with a small amount of new wool to produce a hardwearing and inexpensive material much in demand at the time.

The Mungo Grinder operated a lethal sounding machine with very sharp metal teeth which literally ground the rags and the wool together and I'm presuming spat the Mungo or Shoddy out...whether it was ready to use at that point I'm not sure. It might have needed another process first.

The girls and women who sorted the rags were extremely quick and it was considered a skilful job...they could see by practice which rags were worth saving and which weren't of any use. The waste was used as a mulch for growing potatoes...

If you've ever moved house and used a removal firm they supply blankets made from shoddy to wrap around your furniture to protect it from knocks...when we moved to Ireland I kept all the blankets the firm had provided...out of cussedness really because Fingers and his mate were completely and totally useless.

The rags came from the rag man who travelled the streets of towns calling out for rags and bones...he sold them to the factories and everyone gained. The bones went to be rendered down into glue and fertiliser. I used to see the rag and bone man when I was working many years ago in the Birmingham slums...he had a big old horse and a wooden cart and he had an endless supply of sweets to hand out to the children who came to pat the horses nose.

Other than the Mungo Grinder, I've been pretty well stuck on the ag labs today...with a butcher thrown in for variety. It's totally unfair to regard the poor ag labs as being of little interest when it was they who kept the country supplied with food for the people and for their animals...it just tends to get somewhat tedious to find yet another ag lab living in a tiny cottage with ten children and a mother-in-law described as a pauper.

One family did up sticks and travel to Australia...they were four months and twenty-two days on board and when they arrived the ship was put into quarentine for a further six weeks because there was cholera on board...that must have been awful to be so near yet so far away from their new lives with the added risk that the cholera might spread....

I'll be back in a while I expect...have to peel the potatoes and suchlike first