Here’s your Arsenic, Dear……….

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Of all the minerals dug wrenched out of from the ground beneath Cornwall, arsenic is the one with the most enthralling history. It is a metal whose deadly reputation runs like a dark thread through Victorian fact and fiction. Here is my favourite use of its name in literature, in the gem of a play by Dylan Thomas:

Under Milkwood
By Dylan Thomas

“Mr Pugh, in the School House opposite, takes up the morning tea to Mrs Pugh, and whispers on the stairs:

MR Pugh
Here’s your arsenic, dear.
And your weedkiller biscuit.
I’ve throttled your parakeet.
I’ve spat in the vases.
I’ve put cheese in the mouseholes.
Here’s your . . .
[Door creaks open]
. . . nice tea, dear.

MRS PUGH
Too much sugar.

MR PUGH
You haven’t tasted it yet, dear.”

If you have never listened to this play, I can recommend downloading the BBC version (Narrated by Richard Burton), sitting back, closing your eyes and drifting into the life of the Welsh Village created through the language of Dylan Thomas.

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