I sometimes wonder at the amount of information that I have acquired through conversations I have had with various relatives over the years. A long, long time ago I was sitting at my grandmother’s table. She was slicing a thick piece of bread from a shiny black-topped cottage loaf and liberally spreading it with creamy tub butter. The conversation turned to ear-rings. She told me that when she was younger she had longed for some lovely, feminine, dangly ear-rings and I asked her why she had never had never had her ears pierced. I was surprised by her reply. She informed me that she had and went on to tell me all about it.
In her day, children became young adults at the age of eleven. That is when they left school and started to earn a living. She never actually advised me when but at some point after leaving school she was with a group of friends and they all decided to have their ears pierced. So they got together the equipment: one clean bottle cork and a large darning needle. The needle was sterilised and then thrust firmly through one of the girls lobes and into the cork and so on until all of the girls had throbbing lobes dripping with blood but sporting a hole. Then those that had ear-rings got their friends to thread them through whilst those that couldn’t yet afford any took some clean, sterilised plucked broom bristles and had those threaded through and tied at the bottom in a knot.
My grandma, still saving for her ear-rings had broom bristles pulled and pushed through her holes …… she told me that it was so painful and eventually she pulled them out and they healed up. She never had them pierced again.