The Fork…

Roman patricians and plebeians ate with their fingers, as did all European peoples until the dawning of a conscious fastidiousness at the beginning of the Renaissance. Still, there was a right and a wrong, a refined and an uncouth, way to go about it. From Roman times onward, a commoner …

Easter eggs….

Only within the last century were chocolate eggs exchanged as Easter gifts. But the springtime exchanging of real eggs—white, coloured, and gold-leafed—is an ancient custom, predating Easter by many centuries. From earliest times, and in most cultures, the egg signified birth and resurrection. The Egyptians buried eggs in their tombs. …

Hey you!…..

Most of us know the difference between the intimate French tu and the more impersonal (and polite) vous. A similar distinction exists in Arabic between anta (‘you’ singular) and antum (‘you’ plural) – addressing an important person with anta (anti is the feminine version)  rather than antum would be considered impolite. In Vietnam there are no fewer than eighteen words for ‘you’, the use …

March 26th…….

English novelist Arnold Bennett died trying to impress his girlfriend. When a Parisian waiter advised him against drinking the café’s toxic tap water, Bennett took a sip to show his lady companion that he wasn’t afraid of a little bacteria. “Ah, ce n’est pas sage, Monsieur, ce n’est pas sage!” …

March 25th…..

After serving as President of Poland for five years,the splendidly mustachioed Lech Wałęsa resumed his old job as an electrician at the Gdansk shipyard, on the Baltic coast, repairing forklifts and electric vehicles for the equivalent of $1.40 an hour. When he returned to the shipyard gates on April 2, …