A pickled herring sandwich…….

  “At 6.00 he took a shower. He boiled some potatoes and had open sandwiches of pickled herring in mustard sauce with chives and egg on a rickety table outside the cottage, facing the bridge. He poured himself a shot of aquavit and drank a toast to himself. After that …

To curry favour……

    This is odd…very odd.In fact to curry favour gets odder the more you look at the phrase. That’s because favour is not a favour……..It’s a horse. Confused? Well read on and all will be explained. Once upon a time, six or seven hundred years ago there was a …

Napoleon`s last will and testament….

    This week, the national archive has made the wills of over 100 historical figures available online. What follows is an extract of the will of Napoleon Bonaparte, written a month before his death in exile on St Helena. . This 15th April, 1821, at Longwood, Island of St …

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 …