Unlucky 13….

Why is 13 considered so unlucky? 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 the number thirteen. …

Stalin and Thatcher….

I had a rather splendid day today. As regular readers are no doubt aware, I teach English during the summer months..Today saw the return of the Russians and their charming tour leader and a rather pleasant Russian English teacher. The result of which got me thinking about the English language …

The Importance of being Idle…

Apparently a fainéant is an idler and a sluggard. Somehow you can guess that without bothering to dig out your dictionary. Fainéants sound lazy. Why? Why, dear inactive reader, did you suspect immediately that a fainéant was a lazybones, a lie-a-bed, and a lotus-eater. Perhaps it was the suggestion of faint, with …

Pilgrims…

The Holy Land, the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome, those of St James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain and St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury were great centres of medieval pilgrimage. A pilgrim was easily identified by the way he dressed. He wore a rough grey …

Crap….

According to a popular legend, the word crap comes from Thomas Crapper, the supposed inventor of the flush toilet. The story goes that Crapper’s name was stamped on all his lavatorial devices, and when servicemen in World War I went to the latrine they would say, “I’m goin’ to the …