Turnips, Germans and Sex…..

  In many western European languages, the turnip, like many other ostensibly sexless objects, possesses gender — masculine in French (navet), masculine in Spanish (nabo), feminine in German (Ruhe). This linguistic curiosity once led the touring Mark Twain to remark  “In German, a young lady has no sex, while a …

Henry Ford – the carrot man……

  Without doubt one of the biggest fans of the humble carrot was the industrialist Henry Ford, whose passion for vegetables was perhaps second only to his fondness for the car. Ford was anti-milk (“the cow is the crudest machine in the world”) and anti-meat (he promoted soybeans in lieu …

Pythagoras and his ban on beans…….

  Pythagoras viewed as either a Shamanistic shyster or intellectual innovator, is still one of the most important names in Western philosophy. He and his followers adhered to some rather strange rules such as not to stir fires with iron pokers or to eat meat or beans This was because …

Overcoats and milk puddings…….

  Sir  Tatton Sykes (1826-1913)  was convinced that in order to maintain good health the body should be kept at a constant temperature. In order to achieve this he had a collection of overcoats made for him, each a different colour and all made to fit over each other- much like …

Pocahontas – How Disney got it so wrong…….

    There are countless myths attached to this woman`s life and loves, all of them written in an attempt to project the concept of the noble savage being saved by western civilisation and Christianity. She was in fact married twice in her short life, but neither time to the …

Popeye the fraud…….

  It appears that the poster boy for spinach is a fraud. Popeye would have been just as better off munching on a celery stalk, for spinach does not contain much of anything apart from Vitamin A, which is excellent for night vision but pretty useless as an aid for …

Manufacture and manure…….

It’s always rather pleasant to watch a word shift in meanings until it means the opposite of itself. Such a word is manufactured, which is Latin for handmade. Manus is hand, as in manual, and facture is making as in, well, a factory, where things are made. But the difference …

When is turkey not a turkey…..

  It seems that the poor old turkey has had an identity crisis. For this we can blame the Portuguese. Following Vasco da Gama`s voyage around Africa by the 16th century they were perhaps one of the leading traders along the Americas. Anxious to preserve their monopoly on certain goods …

The wonderful Monsieur Allais …..

  Alphonse Allais (20 October 1854 – 28 October 1905) was a French writer, humorist and painter. In 1883 Alphonse Allais exhibited a painting called First Communion of Anaemic Young Girls In The Snow, which was of course a white canvas. Allais’ painting was the companion piece to his Apopleptic …