13…..

Why is the number 13 viewed with such suspicion? Surveys show that of all bad luck superstitions, unease surrounding the number thirteen is the one that affects most people today—and in almost countless ways. The French, for instance, never issue the house address thirteen. In Italy, the national lottery omits …

Legs…..

In Chaucer`s Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath immediately fell in love with her fifth husband the moment she saw his legs “ so clene and faire” as he walked behind the funeral procession of her fourth husband. Lusting after a man`s leg was common practice in the middle Ages …

Teeth and words……

  Why doesn’t English have an expression for the space between the teeth when Malay does – gigi rongak? And that’s not the only gap in our dental vocabulary: mrongos (Indonesian) to have ugly protruding upper teeth angil (Kapampangan, Philippines) to bare the fangs like a dog laglerolarpok (Inuit) the …

Hello…….

  The first and most essential word in all languages is surely ‘hello’, the word that enables one human being to converse with another, such as: aa (Diola, Senegal) beeta (Soninke, Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast) bok (Croatian) boozhoo (Ojibwe, USA and Canada) daw-daw (Jutlandish, Denmark) ella (Awabakal, Australia) i …

The truth about Harems

  Nothing evoked more mystery and romance to Europeans in the nineteenth century than the veiled women of the sultan’s harem. Harems started as a way for Ottoman warriors to “protect” their women when away from home for long periodsthe system was then adopted by the Sultanate. The reality of …

Pisse Prophets…..

  The examination of the urine had always been an important diagnostic tool. As far back as the thirteenth century there was a textbook on the subject called De Urinas. By the sixteenth century this had developed into a full blown discipline known as uroscopy. Specialists known as “pisse-prophets” would …

Chlorophyll and deodorant……

    In the sci-fi obsessed 1950s, for a short time chlorophyll was mooted as the new panacea for all things whiffy. It all started with a fellow called Benjamin Gruskin, , who in the 1930s developed a water-soluble form of chlorophyll, now known as chlorophyllin. Gruskin tested his chlorophyllin …

A brief history of knickers…….

  It seems hard to believe, but until the end of the 18th century, “decent” women had always gone knickerless. “Until the late 18th century, [women`s] underwear consisted only of smocks, shifts, stays and the highly important petticoats of all kinds” states the wonderfully named C. Willet Cunnington in his …