The most famous Irishman was actually the son of a Roman official born and bred in South Wales. The legend goes that he was captured by Picts and sold as a slave in Ireland. He escaped to Gaul, where he became a priest and is credited with bringing Christianity to western Europe.
Many countries [more…]
This means something one finds pleasing though it’s more often heard in the negative – but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Tea is, or most certainly was, the national beverage of Britain and it gave rise to lots of idiomatic phrases such as ‘storm in a teacup’ and ‘not for all the tea in [more…]
To take the lion’s share is to take the larger part or even the majority of what is to be apportioned out.
There are many tales from ancient times that tell of a group of animals going hunting and the lion using his strength and position as king to claim all the spoils.
The story is [more…]
Crocodile tears are insincere displays of emotion such as feigning sympathy at your opponents’ team losing a match.
In ancient times it was reported and believed that crocodiles put on sad looks and sighed sorrowfully to lure their prey. Moments later they would devour the naïve innocent party and weep (with delight?) while munching on [more…]
Eau de water!
Eau de is French for ‘water of’. I’m sure you have heard of, or even sprayed, eau de toilette or eau de parfum. In English the idea of ‘toilet water’ sends school children into sniggers, but toilette is the process of washing oneself, dressing and taking care of one’s appearance, so splashing [more…]
The term NICKELODEON was first used to mean a theatre where a motion picture could be seen for five cents, or a nickel. The –odeon is thought to come from the keyboard instrument, the melodeon, which also was used as a name for a music hall. Odeon was also the name of a [more…]
Portrait of Art Samuels, Charlie MacArthur, Harpo Marx, Dorothy Parker and Alexander Woollcott (source: Wikipedia)
New York’s Round Table
“Three things shall I have till I die,
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.”
So wrote Dorothy Parker, one of a group of writers who in 1919 began to meet for lunch in a New York [more…]
Fish with bite!
Their powerful jaws, frenzied feeding action and ability to quickly reduce their prey to a bare skeleton, have made these voracious fish popular cartoon and movie metaphors for foul play, greed and evil.
In the James Bond classic, You Only Live Twice, there is a gruesome scene where the evil Blofeld tosses a [more…]
Blowing in the wind
The world’s winds have wonderfully evocative names. The khamsin blows in Egypt for fifty dry, dusty days from late April. The chinook, named after a Native American tribe, blows a warm, dry wind through the Rocky Mountains. The mistral, meaning master wind, blows strong and cold through Southern France and the [more…]