Chastity shoes…….

In Les voyages du Signeur de Villamont (1610), which was the most popular French travel book of its time. Jacques de Villamont (1560 – 1625) describes a rather curious fashion peculiar the women of Venice: “Married women wear gowns padded in front and behind. They wear their hair dyed blonde, …

Pythagoras, beans and death…….

Pythagoras viewed as either a Shamanistic shyster or intellectual innovator, is still one of the most important names in Western philosophy. He and his followers followed some rather strange rules such as not to stir fires with iron pokers and not to eat meat or beans This was because he …

Holorhyms, Mondegreens and Hendrix….

In a previous post I was rambling on about misheard song lyrics and I forgot to mention that there was also a funny little thing called a mondegreen . Have you ever listened to Purple Haze and wondered whether Jimi Hendrix is saying: Excuse me while I kiss the sky …

David Bowie, Yoda and Anaphora…….

This morning I was eating my breakfast whilst listening to the radio, when on came David Bowie’s song Modern Love, and I was suddenly struck by the rhetorical arrangement of the chorus. Anaphora is the technical term for starting a series of clauses with the same words. A classic example …

The Men who stare at Hens……

I am pleased to announce that my new book – The Men who stare at Hens ( courtesy of those fine people at The History Press) will be officially launched at the Clifden Arts Festival on Wednesday the 19th of September at the Atlantic Hotel. Strong drink, things on sticks …

The humble rasher…..

This morning, as I incinerated my breakfast, I was reminded of the etymology of the word rasher, as in a rasher of bacon. There are two theories on the subject. The first rather tedious one is that it’s cognate with razor and therefore means a thin strip that has been …

Die Hard ?……

I was going to write about pizzas but I have been distracted by a film on television, Die Hard . It made me think that it is a sad fact, but true, that a small minority of people can watch Arnold Schwarzenegger (or whoever it happens to be) shooting somebody …

Texting and bunga bunga….

I was in the process of sending an encouraging text message to a former student today. I was going to write “Hope everything goes well.” I never abbreviate. I typed hope, then my thumb hovered for a second over the 3def key, but everything is an awfully long word. In …

A Certain Smile and other ramblings…..

I have just returned from a few pints in my local hostelry where I had a lovely conversation with a couple of charming Italian ladies about the English language. Which made me think of something I came across a couple of days ago. In the bookshops is a newish edition …