A Capella and the Flying Pickets…..

Some of you of an older vintage will remember a band of the 1980’s who rejoiced in the name The Flying Pickets. They had a couple of hits, but was unusual about them was that they sung “a capella”. This musical term, meaning “without accompaniment,” has a rather interesting history. It …

To peach or to scurryfunge…..

I have been reading a fascinating new book, Hitler’s British Traitors, by Tim Tate. It takes a look at the British Nazi sympathisers from the aristocracy downwards, or indeed upwards. One such was a self-described author called James Lonsdale-Bryans, who on two occasions tried to meet Hitler directly. MI5 considered …

The Apple of One’s Eye…..

The Apple Of One’s Eye is somebody (usually a child) who is regarded as precious and irreplaceable. The earliest appearance of the term is found in King Alfred’s writing in the ninth century.  Originally this term simply referred to the “aperture at the centre of the human eye” viz. the …

What exactly is a “Swansong”?

According to tradition, many ancient peoples believed that swans, creatures whose “voices” are not as melodious as those of other birds, burst into clear song when they felt death nearing. The fifth-century B.C. Greek philosopher Socrates is said to have explained that this voice transformation occurred because the swans were …

A very short history of the typewriter…….

The first known attempt at a typewriter was a 1714 British patent for the magnificently named: “an Artificial machine or Method for the Impressing or Transcribing of Letters Singly or Progressively one after another, as in Writing, whereby all Writing whatever may be Engrossed in Paper or Parchment so Neat …

The Almighty Dollar……

That great man of letters, Ben Jonson, recognised that the regard for wealth often engendered a quasi-religious respect as he wrote in his letter to the Countess of Rutland in 1616: Whilst that for which all virtue now is sold, And almost every vice, almightie gold. Two centuries later the …

An Indecent Supper…..

It will come as no surprise that Oscar Wilde had rich and bohemian tastes. “Poke him and he would bleed absinthe and clotted truffles” remarked the actress Elizabeth Robins. Wilde loved to stay and dine at London`s Savoy Hotel, but the publicity it received during Wilde`s “indecency” trial lost it …

The Lord of the Rings and tea……

Although he adored the city of Paris, JRR Tolkein hated the food. “I detest French cooking” he declared, adding that he only liked “good plain food and good tea” On the subject of tea, whilst at his prep school the young Tolkein and a few other boys formed a secret …

The affluent society……

As far back as AD 115, the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus acknowledged that Many who seem to be struggling with adversity are happy; man~ amid great affluence, are utterly miserable. So the awareness wasn’t new. After World War II, Canadian born economist John Kenneth Galbraith contemplated the growing prosperity and …