We clue this variously as ‘Alfred the Great’s kingdom’, ‘Thomas Hardy’s fictional area’ or even ‘Prince Edward, Earl of …’. So what or where is Wessex? The story of Wessex is really the story of the beginning of England.
Wessex was the Kingdom of the West Saxons, founded around AD 500 by Cerdic. The kingdom [more…]
A Lazy Susan is a revolving tray in the middle of the dining table for easy access to condiments and shared dishes.
What a strange name for this turntable that became fashionable in the early 20th century.
If your name is Susan, I am sure you are not lazy, but you are probably interested in the [more…]
English abounds with similes in the form of ‘as x as a y’ but where did this one come from?
The answer is not clear, but the expression has been around since before Shakespeare (and the good Bard used it in Henry IV).
Quite possibly ‘as dead as a doornail’ has survived down the centuries because it [more…]
This means in a sudden move or all at once but started out with more sinister connotations.
The expression is often wrongly quoted as ‘one foul swoop’, or even ‘one fowl swoop’, but it doesn’t relate to chickens.
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macduff on hearing of the death of his family says;
All my pretty ones?
Did you say [more…]
Lady Godiva is renowned for riding through the streets of Coventry naked! What is less known however, is why such a pious woman would do such a thing.
Lady Godgifu, her real name, was married to Leofric, the Earl of Mercia. She was a beautiful woman who cared greatly for the people of Coventry [more…]
Have you seen the clue ‘London theatre, Old …’ and wondered who Old Vic was?
This famous London theatre was originally named The Royal Coburg Theatre when it first opened in 1818 but was renamed the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1833. It soon became known as the Old Vic and the name has stuck.
From 1914-1923 [more…]
Hell-bent for leather?
Have you ever heard someone say that they are hell-bent on doing something? Did you understand they meant they were very determined, but didn’t really know what the phrase literally means?
This saying has been has been popular since the early 19th century and describes someone who is prepared to go “to the gates of hell” [more…]
A kangaroo court is not a legal proceeding in the Australian outback, nor does it involve hopping marsupials.
It refers to a criminal proceeding that is conducted for show, where the defendant is undoubtedly going to be found guilty.
The earliest use of the term was recorded not in Australia as you might expect, but [more…]