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Cowan’s black powder

Raining up here again, sheets of it coming in from the east, squalls buffeting ashore .. the Richmond a black shade of grey with so much floodwater running out it’s like a never-ending ebb tide.

Cowan’s black powder came to mind.

Analyst Cowan was looking for common poisons and no doubt subjected the black powder he shook from the brush to all the standard poison tests, all proving negative. So it’s not as if the black powder was unidentifiable, it was just not identifiable as a common poison.

So  …

I grabbed a brush I’d been polishing my boots with for a lot of years, held it over a sheet of A4 and loosened out anything trapped in the bristles, made a little pile out of the result and took a photo (see pic)

That’s black powder, and my boots are tan.

Then the little voice interrupted and suggested Cowan should have been able to smell any boot polish remaining on the brush. Fair enough, but mine didn’t smell of anything either, neither did the dust. All this might then explain the absence of a polishing rag in his luggage. Kiwi boot polish yes, but no square of soft material used to buff up his very shiny shoes. No need though, he used the brush to both apply a dab of polish then buff the leather up into a shine. The scissors he used to cut his own hair, the knife to clean his nails and open letters. The thread to repair his duds and a shirt.

These we harder times.

  ..  That’s my thinking.


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Andy Baader #

    Military “bulling” technique involves a first application of polish or wax with a brush. Subsequent polishing, in layers, is done with a soft cloth.

    See here:

    On that note: do we know what some of the soiled undergarments were stained with?

    Tan polish might look a bit like skids.

    April 5, 2021
    • Andy, I doubt he would only have done it once, that being the case the soiling would have been of a different nature to what you have in mind.

      April 6, 2021

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