Beards and beef tea………

  When Matthew Robinson inherited the title of Lord Rokeby in 1793 he was already 81 years of age, As an ex Member of parliament he had strong views on just about everything. He was a fervent believer in the health giving properties of fresh air and exercise. He walked …

The Six foot high club…..

  East Thistle Street in Edinburgh was the site of perhaps one of the most peculiar clubs ever to open its doors in Scotland; namely the Six foot high club. Opening in 1826, membership was only granted to people who were six foot or over. Admittance rules were strict. Each …

Terpander and the grape….

    The ancient Greeks adored Terpander. He was without doubt the most popular musician and lyricist of his time. Originally from Antissa, on the coast of Lesbos he had settled in Sparta, where he completely transformed the whole Greek musical system. He  added more strings to the lyre, changing …

WB Yeats- the hen hypnotist…..

    The poet William Butler Yeats had a lifelong obsession with magic and for a while was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He was known to write in a trance like state he called “spirit writing” Any time he was on a bus or …

Ulysses and Trams…..

  Of all the many books inspired by Ulysses, one of the oddest is surely The Bloomsday Trams: Dublin’s Tramway Fleet of James Joyce’s Ulysses, by a David Foley. The author modestly admits in his introduction that he ‘was unprepared for how difficult this task was to become’ although he …

Broiled Fish with Reading Sauce ………..

In Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, Phileas Fogg decided to have a breakfast of …… “.. broiled fish with Reading sauce, a scarlet slice of roast beef garnished with mushrooms, a rhubarb and gooseberry tart, and a morsel of Cheshire cheese, the whole being washed down with …

Manners maketh man………

  As prosperity grew in 12th century England there was a renewed focus on etiquette and manners. This was a time of cultural renewal which was based on classical models. Along with the elaboration of monastic rules of behaviour (‘customaries’) and the development of ‘household ordinances and serving manuals’, there …

Bless you !…..A look at the Sneeze

  “Gesundheit,” say Germans; “Felicità,” say Italians; and the Welsh have to say “dduw bendithia chi” whilst the Arabs clasp hands and reverently bow. Every culture believes in a benediction following a sneeze. The custom goes back to a time when a sneeze was regarded as a sign of great …

The euphemism……

Is the euphemism dying out? Growing up in the 1960’s there was an entire sub-lexicon of phraseology to cover this. It was the Golden age of euphemisms. Nobody died of pneumonia, diphtheria or tuberculosis, they were peaky, then poorly, then passed over. Some adults had to be watched because they could turn …