The Victorian Internet…

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web – which is the operating system upon which the internet runs – but what is less well known is that his invention was inspired by a forgotten Victorian bestseller. Enquire Within upon Everything was a ‘how-to’ miscellany that was first published in …

English lessons…

A big thank you for all the responses, but sadly I can only take 10 of you on. The lucky recipients have been notified, and we will start the classes on Wednesday.  

Learning English…

Recently I have received a number of emails requesting help in understanding the vagaries of the English language. So, I have put together a small course for all you lucky people. Let me ask you a question… When you’re at work do you find it hard to express yourself in …

A very short history of the handshake…

In its oldest recorded use, a handshake signified the conferring of power from a god to an earthly ruler. This is reflected in the Egyptian verb “to give,” the hieroglyph for which was a picture of an extended hand. In Babylonia, around 1800 B.C., it was required that the king …

The strange story of Goldilocks….

A fascinating early version of the Goldilocks story was written in 1837 by British poet laureate Robert Southey, under the title “Story of the Three Bears.” Southey’s Goldilocks was neither young nor beautiful; rather, she was an angry, hungry, homeless grey-haired crone, perhaps in her midsixties, who broke into the …

V for Vendetta……

Yesterday I was listening to  a choir sing some Renaissance madrigals on the ubiquitous Youtube channel. Among them was a song about how Italy was terribly oppressed in the sixteenth century. The country was exhorted to: Grasp, grasp, bold one, the righteous sword To avenge yourself of a thousand other …

Plurale tantum and Sweaty Betty….

For some unfathomable reason, I have just received an email inviting me to buy Christmas presents at a shop called Sweaty Betty, which for the uninitiated is an outlet selling fashionable sports and fitness clothes for women – in some cases so beautifully designed that customers are inspired to take …

Misopogonistic Santa`s

Christmas is the season when strange men in red hats and white beards lurk and loiter in every shopping arcade. It’s therefore the time when the word misopogonistically really comes into its own. Misopogonistically is an adverb that means with a hatred of beards. Sample sentence: “No I don’t want …