A discussion with a buddy today moved on to cleaning practices "that yer Nan would remember".
The Donkey Stone to scour the step and/ or stone window ledge, then the white line that was rubbed on the step or window ledge edge with a lump of limestone or the like.
of the Donkey Stone is easy enough ie a pumice/ sand (of different types) and cement block used originally to scour the stone steps in the Lancashire mills so that they would not be slippy. "Donkey" was simply one of the brand names from Reads of Manchester.
But what about the white line? Does anyone know a History
of WHY that was added at the end of the scouring process? It is easy to say that in the mills the white line would make the stair edges more visible and keep the 'Elf & Safety many happy - excepty there were no H&S men in those days.
I suspect it goes back a long, long way and has a root in something like "to keep the Devil out". Also I guess we all know about the old tale (which my mum firmly believes) about ants not crossing a chalk line.
The interesting bit to me is that my wife knows about the practice - because they do exactly the same in South America where she comes from. She has no idea why it is done.
Any comments, thoughts or even knowledge?