The Great Grimaldi….

This is rather lovely! I was (once again) side tracked whilst doing trying to do some research by the curious story of Joseph Grimaldi (18 December 1778 – 31 May 1837). He’s commemorated in a little park just off the Pentonville road  where he is buried. Rather sweetly it features …

How to speak Art Gallery…….Chiaroscuro and Pentimento

CHIAROSCURO : Literally means “bright-dark” in Italian and describes the technique, in painting or drawing, of modeling three-dimensional figures by contrasting or gradating areas of light and dark. Leonardo da Vinci was among the first to use chiaroscuro to break out of the tradition of flat, one dimensional outlining of …

Monty Python and the me generation……

I saw an article recently in the Daily Telegraph that modern audiences would now be left baffled by the humour in Monty Python film The Life Of Brian – because they have such ‘poor religious literacy’. The article goes on to say that some Engish teachers had commented that nearly …

Let`s hear it for Horace…..

  Quintus Horatius Flaccus aka Horace was probably the world`s first autobiographer. He tells us far more about himself, his character, his peculiar foibles, and his way of life than any other great poet in antiquity. A firm believer in the ” Life is brief and death is coming, so …

Naughty Lord Palmerston…….

Despite his ill-fitting false teeth and appalling bad breath, Britain’s prime minister was seemingly irresistible to women during the Crimean War. “Lord Cupid” as he was known in Parliament, fathered seven illegitimate children and once tried to bonk one of Queen Victoria`s ladies-in-waiting while he was visiting Windsor Castle. (He …

The rather odd history of OMG…….

OMG, as anyone under the age of twenty-one (and practically everyone else, at this point) knows, stands for “oh my god!” The acronym is commonly used in text messaging but it predates the era of the ubiquitous mobile phones. In fact, it predates the era of phones mobile or otherwise. …

Why is bellybutton fluff blue?…..

You will no doubt be heartened to hear that a number of scientific surveys have been undertaken regarding bellybutton fluff . What follows are my learned findings: They have all found that the fluff is generally blue in colour and is more prevalent in the navels of certain types of …

A La Recherche du Temps Perdu……

  The novel as a flotation tank. Except that it feels more like that you are suspended in a take away Chicken Korma than floating in water, and far from sensory deprivation, it is a sensory inundation that the experience winds up being all about. Your host: Marcel, a fictitious …

The curious history of ketchup……

  The word ketchup comes from the Chinese dialect Hokkien, Ke-tsiap, the name of a sauce derived from fermented fish. Now popularly known as “ketchup” or “catsup”. The sauce was appealing to the traders and sailors for a number of reasons, one of which was that it was well-preserved and …