H is for Hospital……..

“Hospital” literally means “a friendly place to rest.” The Latin noun hospes translates as both “guest” and “host.” The Romans believed that every hospes should be hospitalis, or “friendly.” When they needed a term to designate an inn or hotel—a place where many people could stay and pay as guests …

La Femme Petomane……

One of the very earliest sexual psychologists was a fellow called Magnus Hirschfeld (1868 – 1935) who, until Hitler shut down his world renowned institute in Berlin, studied all manner of sexual oddities. In his book ,Sexual Pathology (1932), he describes an evening at a Parisian night club.: To prove …

Ouch !…..

In Thailand, between 1973 and 1980, there was curious outbreak of penile amputations by women. Fidelity is held in high esteem over there and it appeared that Thai wives took to punishing their philandering husbands by getting them drunk and then, while they slept in a drunken stupor, the wives …

The joy of Kedgeree….

Food always reflects the culture it was born in. There’s no dish for which this is truer than kedgeree. Delicately spiced rice, hard-boiled eggs, smoky fish and butter– this is a culinary fight to the death between Indian flavours and Victorian nursery food. It’s no wonder, then, that it was …

Enubilate……

Sometimes you come across a word that is so lovely, you have to tell the world. In this case it is inenubilable   . The Latin for the word cloud was nubes and, as a result, some eighteenth century classicist invented the lovely word enubilate, which meant to blow the mists …

Ashtrays…..

While primitive forms of ashtrays existed way before the 19th century, it was during the last century that the design, aesthetics and their popularity really took off. As more women began to smoke in the early 1900’s, the ashtray inched closer to an art form of sorts. Many women avoided …

Onion soup and leather gloves…..

Classic French onion soup is said to have been created by the dethroned King Stanislaw I of Poland, father-in-law of Louis XV, who had time on his hands during his necessarily prolonged sojourn at his daughter’s court. (Stanislaw is also noted for traveling across Europe disguised as a coachman and …

Asparagus and the Germans……

Even though most asparagus found in shops are green, it is also available in white. White asparagus is simply green asparagus, buried. Popular in some less interesting parts of Europe for its smooth buttery taste, white asparagus is created by mounding sandy soil over the beds to shield the growing …

To lurch……..

The other day, I was promising not to leave a friend in the lurch when I noticed that I had no idea what a lurch was or how, exactly, you could be in one. I do like to keep my promises nebulous. I had always thought that leaving in the …