Panache…..

    The literal translation refers to the feather worn in the helmet of King Henri IV of France, whose bravery and flamboyance gave the word its idiomatic meaning. It describes an almost reckless heroism best exemplified by French dramatist Edmond Rostand’s most famous character, Cyrano de Bergerac (created in …

The Anorak….

  The cozy, hooded “anoraq” is the garment worn by the Inuit people of the Arctic to protect them against the very harshest weather conditions. In the 1960s the “anorak” became popular in Britain as a style of jacket with a fur-trimmed hood beloved of Mods. The European version was …

namby pamby……….

  During the 18th century, Ambrose Philips was a fellow of St Johns College, Cambridge, and in addition gained some recognition as a poet. But his poetic style and political affiliations (he was a Whig) incurred the wrath of the musician and poet Henry Carey (who wrote ‘Sally in our Alley’ and was possibly …

Here comes the bride…..

  The  bridal chorus melody from Lohengrin (1850) is probably ( and sadly) the most widely recognised of all Wagner’s music. But it was not the composer’s intention that it be associated with a bride’s arrival at her wedding. In the opera, the chorus is sung after the wedding. It …

Mumbo Jumbo…..

  Mumbo Jumbo is the expression we use for language that seems nonsense and to have no discernible meaning. For the origin of this saying we travel to Africa with the explorers and missionaries of the 18th century. One of these travellers, Francis Moore, wrote a book of his adventures …

Salome…..

  Salome is best known as the siren in the Bible who shed seven veils – but her name and veils have no biblical basis whatsoever. Matthew 14:6 and Mark 6:22 tell the story, describing the young woman only as Herodias’s daughter and never mentioning her style of dancing. In …

Shut that door…..

  Much has been written about the “win at all costs” mentality of the Soviet bloc during the Olympic games of yore. Everything from chemical enhancements, blood transplants and even bribery seemed to have been tried. There is however a wonderful, if a somewhat apocryphal story about the Javelin competition …