The Oscillating Osculator……….

  In 1939, Max Factor Jr created The Kissing Machine or Mechanical Osculator. This came about after workers who were previously employed to test the indelibility of the lipstick-  in essence having to count the number of kisses it took on tissue paper before the lipstick wore off, quickly got …

The rise and fall of Chocfinger…….

  Anthony Ward, a British commodities trader who set up a hedge fund specialising in chocolate, earned himself the nickname Chocfinger, by analogy with the Bond villain Goldfinger, who tried to take control of US gold reserves. Chocfinger didn’t go as far as his namesake, but he did have many …

Medieval pregnancy tips………

  Taken from Ad mulieres ferrarienses by a Giovanni Michele Savonarola (1384-1462) which was probably written in 1450. If a woman walks over a garden bed or a field within six weeks of giving birth, then nothing will grow on it in the next few years, or everything will perish. …

Manners maketh man………….

  As England became more prosperous in the 16th century there was a renewed focus on etiquette and manners. As befitting the influence of the renaissance this was also a time which saw a renewed interest in ‘household ordinances and serving manuals’- namely a series of Anglo-Latin courtesy poems which …

A very,very short history of the washing machine…..

  For centuries, people on sea voyages washed their clothes by placing the dirty laundry in a strong cloth bag, tossing it overboard, and letting the ship drag the bag for hours. The principle was sound: forcing water through clothes to remove dirt. Early hand-operated washing machines attempted to incorporate …

Descartes and his cross-eyed women…….

René Descartes (1596–1650) the French philosopher, mathematician and writer is perhaps the only example of a sexual eccentricity changing the history of Western thought. For René “I think, therefore I am” Descartes had a fetish for cross-eyed women which he believed came from a childhood fascination with a cross-eyed playmate …

A brief history of dentures…..

The Etruscans, who inhabited Italy in the area that is modern Tuscany, are regarded as the best dentists of the ancient world. They extracted decayed teeth, replacing them with full or partial dentures, in which individual teeth were realistically carved from ivory or bone and bridgework was crafted in gold. …

Honcho……

  It sounds like Spanish, doesn’t it? But in fact, it comes from the Japanese word “hancho,” which has its origins in Middle Chinese. “Han” translates as “squad,” and “cho” means “chief,” which is a common suffix in Japanese for words that denote leadership— “kocho,” for example, means “head master …

Eccentrics…. a sneak preview

For the last year or so I have been working on a book of English eccentrics. I must say that it has been a lot of fun. I thought that I would share with you all a few examples of my homage to English loopiness. Sit down, make a cup …