James Carr Boyle and the horse(s) with no name….

  GK Chesterton once wrote “The Victorian Age made one or two mistakes, but they were mistakes that were really useful; that is, mistakes that were really mistaken. They thought that commerce outside a country must extend peace: it has certainly often extended war. They thought that commerce inside a …

How to speak Art Gallery (part 2)…..

    PUTTO (POO-toe): Putti (note the plural) are those naked, chubby babies that cavort through Italian paintings, especially from the fifteenth century on. “Putto” means “little boy” in Italian, and originally the figure was derived from personifications of Eros in early Greek and Roman art; by extension, the term …

Schlep, Shmaltz and Schmooze……

  Schlep comes from the Yiddish word “shlepn,” meaning to “drag” or “pull,” and it has retained this meaning in one of its modern uses, in which it is synonymous with the English word “lug.” It is more frequently used, though, to describe an arduous or difficult journey and, most …

Bull in a china shop….

  Although the expression in its current form came first  from the pen of Frederick Marryat, the idea had been around for a long time before  that – but not quite as we know it. James Boswell came close when in 1769 he wrote that the ‘delicate and polite’ Mr …

The very first “Kiss and Tell”….

  Harriette Dubouchet who was one of the most famous courtesans of the 19th century.She began her career (?) at the age of fifteen, by becoming the mistress of the Earl of Craven. Many famous men entered the bed of Harriette and many more sought it out. She became a …

Robert Cocking`s claim to fame …..

  Robert Cocking was the developer of an early (subsequently unsuccessful) parachute design and as a result became the first person to be killed in a parachuting accident. He was a professional watercolour artist with a keen interest in science. He had seen Andre-Jacques Garnerin make the first parachute jump …

Chickens come home to roost…….

    The idea of bad deeds, specifically curses, coming back to haunt their originator has long been established in the English language and was expressed in print as early as 1390, when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in The Parson’s Tale: Such cursing deprives a man  of  the Kingdom of God, …

A Brief History of Kedgeree…..

    Food always reflects the culture it was born in. There’s no dish for which this is truer than kedgeree. Delicately spiced rice, hard-boiled eggs, smoky fish and butter– this is a culinary fight to the death between Indian flavours and Victorian nursery food. It’s no wonder, then, that …

To make feet for children’s stockings……

  In Jonathon Green`s majestic Dictionary of Slang (2011 )can be found wonderful counterpoints to today’s highly unimaginative, fuck, shag, and screw. Some of the following are so lovely, a campaign should be started to bring some of them back. Give someone a green gown (1351) Play nug-a-nug (1505) Play …

A Brief History of the Bra ……..

  Most cultures have enhanced the penis and breasts in one way or another, sometimes in extremely bizarre ways. Among New Guinea peoples, men wrap their todgers in eighteen-inch-long sheaths to give the appearance of a constant hard-on. But no body part has received as modification, and all round attention, …