Old New Zealand

...The Way We Were...

Pishoguerie, or an Old Wives' Tale:

A Wonder Cure For Warts

"There are fairies at the bottom of our garden." You may be one of those who believe in the little folk, but have you ever practised the art of pishoguerie which as everyone knows, is a way of curing things by the aid of the fairies?

Superstition dies hard and as is proved by a reputed cure for warts, which is quite inexplicable by ordinary standards. "For as long as I could remember I had nine warts on my left hand. When I was small they were small, when I grew big they grew accordingly," said a victim.

"When I reached an age when appearances mattered the warts were, big, black, and gruesome. The two biggest were on the knuckle of the third finger of my left hand; when a delicious engagement ring was placed on that finger the warts loomed out on either side like two dark shadows dimming the lustre of the diamonds. What to do? I tried all recognised medical remedies without success."

"I had a friend who had been troubled by warts which she treated scientifically, until a giant excrescence appeared on her nose which refused to be intimidated by science.. She was advised to try the old cure of putting stones into a paper bag and putting them in Some definite place!"

An old wives' tale you say with a cynical shrug...but wait!

Even the Academic

"She was a modern practical and shrewd woman, whose intellect was proclaimed by a long string of academic degrees. She also had the normal vanity of a normal woman and between that and the weight of the wart she could hardly turn up her nose at pishoguerie. The stones in a bag cure worked for her, so I too tried it."

The victim selected nine stones - one for each wart on her hand - dropped them into a paper bag and went forth to deposit them in "some definite place."

This was no simple process, for whenever she tried to get rid of them a policeman or passer-by would be looking suspiciously in her direction. When at last she succeeded in dropping the bag behind a railing she felt as guilty as a real criminal.

Days passed and her warts remained. Maybe it was because she had not chosen a sufficiently popular spot in which to place the stones. She retrieved them and set forth once again.

She climbed onto a bus ... hopped off at the next stop, leaving the bag behind on a seat. She had not gone six yards before friendly pedestrians informed her that someone was calling her. There was the bus driver. He had halted his vehicle between stops, and was brandishing her horrid paper bag, calling, "You left it behind, Miss!"

Safe Deposit

"Just think of all the cherished shopping I have mislaid and no one has ever come forward with the findings," she smiled bitterly. It was somewhat hypocritically that she thanked a newspaper-boy, when next she thought she had disposed of her fast becoming embarrassing bundle. Where could she put it? Irritated beyond imagination, and deep in thought, she suddenly bumped into a telephone box. It hurt but gave rise to an inspired idea. There was no one about as she popped into the booth, slithered the bag to the ground and bolted as though bloodhounds were on her heels.

The next day her warts showed a change for the better. Their hard contours became slightly blurred and a faint pinkish tinge showed through their sooty skin. The change was more pronounced the next day and even more so on the third day.

"After the ninth day, I went to the learned lady who had advised me and showed her my hand, now unblemished and cleaned of all trace of warts. She looked long while I waited to hear her say something profound like, "There are more things in heaven and earth," but with a shrug and in a matter-of-fact tone of voice she commented, "Told you so"!"


A dash of sugar in the cooking water will lesson the odour of onions.

-- New Zealand Free Lance, November 2, 1956