Keep your fingers crossed……

  If you cross your fingers when making a wish, or if you tell a friend, “Keep your fingers crossed,” you’re partaking of an ancient custom that required the participation of two people, intersecting index fingers. The popular gesture grew out of the pagan belief that a cross was a …

Onion breath….

  The problem with onions, almost all agree, is that they smell. Onion breath has been bedeviling the socially sensitive since the first hunter-gatherer ate the first wild onion bulb. Once you’ve eaten an onion, everybody knows it, which is why Don Quixote cautioned Sancho Panza to “Eat not garlic …

The peculiar history of Ketchup…..

  It appears that the ubiquitous bottle of ketchup is not quite so modern as we thought. 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 …

Why do we call a turkey, a turkey?….

  It seems that we can blame the Portuguese for this. Following Vasco da Gama`s voyage around Africa, by the 16th century they were without doubt one of the leading traders along the Americas. Anxious to preserve their monopoly on certain goods the Portuguese were somewhat vague as to where …

How decolletage morphed into cleavage….

  Let us look at cleavage first. The word itself is a worry – it can mean rending things into separate parts, and also exactly the opposite when referring to things which cling together. In terms of low-cut necklines it somehow covers both possibilities: garments cut to show objects that are actually separate but …

Bringing home the bacon……

  When somebody “Brings Home The Bacon” they have achieved something notable, or won a prize or award. There are two possible explanations for this phrase. The first is an ancient game, popular at country fairs up and down the land. Men would chase a heavily greased pig around a …

It`s in the bag!….

  In The Bag is a phrase used to describe something of an absolute certain outcome. Since the beginning of the English Parliament, tradition has it that all petitions brought before the House of Commons, which had a successful outcome, would be placed by the Speaker in a large velvet …

Murder by fly-paper……….

      In the spring of 1909, Miss Eliza Barrow, a well-to-do 49 year old spinster, moved into the four room top floor flat at 63 Tollington Park in Finchley Green, London. Her landlord Frederick Seddon occupied the ground floor with his wife Maggie, five children and elderly father. …

Riddle me this….

  The Anglo-Saxons delighted in the following riddle: I am a wonderful creature, bringing joy to women, and useful to those who dwell near me. I harm no citizen except only my destroyer. My site is lofty; I stand in a bed; beneath, somewhere, I am shaggy. Sometimes the very …