Tulipmania….

Capitalism isn’t the road to riches for everyone. Take the examples of the 1990`s dot-com boom and bust, or the 1929 stockmarket crash (as well as a series of disastrous depressions across earlier decades), not to mention the imploding speculative European market disaster known as the South Sea Bubble of …

Hair and Superstitions…

Ancient superstition decrees that a person’s hair contains their ‘essential spirit’ (this could be a forerunner of what we now call DNA). Therefore, anyone who has a strand or lock of your hair has the power to command your person and bewitch you. So should you give such a valuable …

The Victorian Internet…

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web – which is the operating system upon which the internet runs – but what is less well known is that his invention was inspired by a forgotten Victorian bestseller. Enquire Within upon Everything was a ‘how-to’ miscellany that was first published in …

English lessons…

A big thank you for all the responses, but sadly I can only take 10 of you on. The lucky recipients have been notified, and we will start the classes on Wednesday.  

Learning English…

Recently I have received a number of emails requesting help in understanding the vagaries of the English language. So, I have put together a small course for all you lucky people. Let me ask you a question… When you’re at work do you find it hard to express yourself in …

A very short history of the handshake…

In its oldest recorded use, a handshake signified the conferring of power from a god to an earthly ruler. This is reflected in the Egyptian verb “to give,” the hieroglyph for which was a picture of an extended hand. In Babylonia, around 1800 B.C., it was required that the king …

The strange story of Goldilocks….

A fascinating early version of the Goldilocks story was written in 1837 by British poet laureate Robert Southey, under the title “Story of the Three Bears.” Southey’s Goldilocks was neither young nor beautiful; rather, she was an angry, hungry, homeless grey-haired crone, perhaps in her midsixties, who broke into the …

V for Vendetta……

Yesterday I was listening to  a choir sing some Renaissance madrigals on the ubiquitous Youtube channel. Among them was a song about how Italy was terribly oppressed in the sixteenth century. The country was exhorted to: Grasp, grasp, bold one, the righteous sword To avenge yourself of a thousand other …