Lettuce, opium and chewing gum…..

The Roman emperor Tacitus, was known for his remarkably austere lifestyle: he ate sparingly, hardly drank and was not interested in the trappings of wealth; hardly the behaviour you would associate with being an emperor. However, it was a different story when it came to lettuce, he would binge on …

The Vegetable Sandwich….

Are you aware that during the prohibition years in America , a popular chocolate bar was the “Vegetable Sandwich” which was manufactured by The now defunct  Curtiss Company. The “Vegetable Sandwich” consisted of dehydrated sprouts, peas, carrots and cabbage coated in chocolate. Upon the wrapper written in bold letters was …

Lavender marriages….

A lavender marriage is a marriage of convenience in which one or more of the couple are not heterosexual. These “lavender marriages” came about to provide cover for a number of gay and lesbian actors. The 1923 marriage of Rudolph Valentino with lesbian costume and set designer Natacha Rambova disguised …

The Victorians and Piano legs……

Nothing sums up the Victorians’wonderfully prudish attitudes to sex as to the the thought that they were aroused by piano legs. Matthew Sweet, in Inventing the Victorians (2002), describes the origin of this story. In 1837, a Captain Frederick Marryat, the author of The Children of the New Forest (1847), …

Chlorophyll and Dogfood…….

  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 on everything …

The Rachel Papers….

The Rachel Papers was Martin Amis’ first novel and was about a young man running around London in the seventies trying to get laid (mainly by a girl called Rachel) and cram for the Oxford Entrance Exam. I’ve always had a soft spot for it as I read it back …

Cabbages are bad for you…..

I am not particularly fond of cabbage and I have found four people who agree with me Robert Burton, in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), which starts with the brilliant “I write of melancholy by being busy to avoid melancholy.” goes on to tell the reader that all depressives should …