The Sun Never set on Their Empire But …

Posted on September 30, 2017. Filed under: Light plus Weighty, The English, Vocabulary/Words |

There is an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London, which used to have gallows adjacent to it. Prisoners were taken to the gallows (after a fair trial, of course) to be hung. The horse-drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like ‘ONE LAST DRINK’.
If he said YES, it was referred to as *ONE FOR THE ROAD.
If he declined, that prisoner was ON THE WAGGON

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then, once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery.
If you had to do this to survive you were “piss poor”,
but worse than that were the really poor folk, who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot, They *“Didn’t have a pot to piss in” and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be in England. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June, because they took their yearly bath in May and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. Hence the custom today of “carrying a bouquet when getting married”

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women, and finally the children. Last of all the babies.
By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.
Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”!

Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom, where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying, *”Dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: *a thresh hold.*

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight, then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old’.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
When visitors came over they would hang up their bacon, to show off.
It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “Bring home the bacon.”
They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around talking and *‘chew the fat’.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, *tomatoes were considered poisonous.*

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or ‘The Upper Crust”.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.
They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of ‘Holding a Wake’.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people, so they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realised they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, thread it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.
Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus someone could be, ‘Saved by the Bell’ or was considered a ‘Dead Ringer’.

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Yiddish Proverbs …

Posted on April 17, 2014. Filed under: Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, Quotes, The Good Book, Vocabulary/Words | Tags: |

Ever come across Jewish Proverbs? Here are some from the Race that has, percentage wise, produced more Nobel Prize winners, than any other!                                                  

The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks. Imagination is more important than knowledge.


What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth.  A wise man hears one word and understands two.


A hero is someone who can keep his mouth shut when he is right.

One old friend is better than two new ones.

One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.


“Don’t be so humble – you are not that great.”

Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them. You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.


We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

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Phrases, Customs, Traditions – the WHY???

Posted on April 16, 2014. Filed under: Searching for Success, Vocabulary/Words |

1. WHY:
Why do men’s clothes have buttons on the right while women’s clothes have buttons on the left?
When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. As most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left.  Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid’s right!   And that’s where women’s buttons have remained since.

2. WHY:
Why do ships and aircraft use ‘mayday’ as their call for help:

Because: This comes from the French word m’aidez – meaning ‘help me’ – and is pronounced, approximately, ‘mayday.’

3. WHY
Why are zero scores in tennis called ‘love’?
In France, where tennis became popular, the round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called ‘l’oeuf,’ which is French for ‘the egg.’   When tennis was introduced in the US, Americans (naturally), mispronounced it ‘love.’

4. WHY:
Why do X’s at the end of a letter signify kisses?
In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous.

5. WHY:
Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called ‘passing the buck’?
In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal.  If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing, he would  ‘pass the buck’ to the next player.

6. WHY:
Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?
In earlier times it used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink.  To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host.  Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would only touch or clink the host’s glass with his own.

7. WHY:
Why are people in the public eye said to be ‘in the limelight’?
Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and theatres by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer ‘in the limelight’ was the centre of attention.

8. WHY:
Why is someone who is feeling great ‘on cloud nine’?
Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.

9. WHY:
In golf, where did the term ‘Caddie’ come from?
When Mary Queen of Scots went to France as a young girl, Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scots game ‘golf.’ He had the first course outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment.  To make sure she was properly chaperoned (and guarded) while she played, Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her.  Mary liked this a lot and when she returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in the long run), she took the practice with her.  In French, the word cadet is pronounced ‘ca-day’ and the Scots changed it into caddie.

10. WHY:
Why are many coin collection jar banks shaped like pigs?
Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of dense orange clay called ‘pygg’. When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as ‘pygg banks.’  When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a container that resembled a pig.  And it caught on.

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Your Money and Magic of the Number 72 …

Posted on December 5, 2012. Filed under: Business, Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, Searching for Success, Vocabulary/Words |

72 is the magic number for your money
Ever faced a financial agent who promised you a (X %) rate of interest on your investments and/or double the funds in (Y) number of years?
To verify, if he is telling you the truth or purely bluffing isnt
rocket science, it’s harder. You will have to battle excel sheets to know the real answer. Or, look for a financial calculator and first figure out how on earth it works, and which mode you should choose – begin or end. (If you don’t know what that means, never mind)
Of course, you could log-on to the net on your mobile and try to punch in the details on an online calculator website.
You could do all of the above mentioned things or simply use the magic number 72.
If you divide the number 72 by the rate of interest, you get to know the number of years it will take for you to double the money.
72: is sort of a magic number of personal finance, a.k.a known as the rule of 72 in personal finance parlance.
All you need to do is a quick calculation (mentally if you know fifth grade math tables) and you can verify, if the cheeky agent is giving you hogwash.
Years: If you divide the number 72 by the rate of interest, you get to know the number of years it will take for you to double the money. For instance, if the rate of interest is 9%, simply divide the number 72 by 9% and the answer is eight. This is the number of years it will take to double your money if you invest it at 9% rate of interest.
Interest: This rule works in reverse order as well. Lets say, you know the number of years you want to double your money in and want to know the minimum rate of interest which you need to achieve that goal. Â So let’s say, you have Rs 2.5 lakh today and need to fund you sons college education with Rs 5 lakh in five years. Just divide the number 72 by 5 and the answer is 14.41%. This shows that you will need to invest your money in an instrument where you earn at least 14.4% as rate of interest, if you want to double the funds in five years.
Inflation: This rule also helps you understand a thing or two about inflation. It helps you calculate the amount of time it will take for inflation to make the real value of money half. So, lets say that the average inflation is 7%. When you divide 72 by 7, the answer is 10.28. So, if you have Rs 1 lakh in your kitty today, it would take around 10.28 year for the value of the money to be halved.
Keep in mind, that this is a rule of thumb and can be used to
get a rough result on money related calculations. Now that you know a little more about the number 72 and its rule, use it while dealing with your agents for quick verifications of facts. If nothing else, you can always impress your girlfriend or boyfriend with this info.
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English Usage …

Posted on November 14, 2012. Filed under: Light plus Weighty, Quotes, The English, Vocabulary/Words |

The guy who made up this sentence is a many splendoured genius! The first word has one letter, the second has two letters, the third three letters and so on till the twentieth word is with twenty letters!

“I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting: nevertheless extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality counterbalancing indecipherability transcendantalizes intercommunication’s incomprehensibleness”

Then there was this here competition for the correct usage of the two words, ‘complete’ and ‘finished’. The winning entry had universal appeal as well as high humor. It went something like this – 

‘The word complete best describes those persons who have found the right partner in their marriage. The word finished best describes those who have found the wrong partner! And they are completely finished if anyone of them finds the other in bed with some one else!”

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Some not often used words …

Posted on November 16, 2010. Filed under: Vocabulary/Words |

Here are three words to describe some offensive types –

Jingo … jingoistic .. One who is a war monger .. the super aggresive type. He is the war proponent vis a vis the concialator. Not a very good quality.

Curmudgeon .. The churlish, ill mannered, boorish, negative type. Even the miserly type who hates tipping waiters.

Hellions … those given to devilry, dare devilry, rowdyism, noisily annoying. Making a nuisance.

Here are words about Personal Traits, Emotions, Actions –

Pomposity … Overly self  important; affected dignity, negatively proud. Even repelling, tactless, repulsive.

Billingsgate … vulgar, coares and abusive language used by the ill mannered and rude when quarrelling  “she poured forth such a flood of billingstate that the street quickly emptied itself of all decent folk”.

Decreptitude … state of enfeeblement primarily due to the ageing process

Incredulity … filled with doubt, skepticism …. disbelief.

Banality … insipid, flat,  trite, common place,

Animus … hatred, dislike – deep and active …

Contrition … sincere regret, sorrow for having done wrong.

Alacrity .. sharp, quick, prompt, positve responce  Eager and lively activity

Fortitude .. a positive quality meaning of resolute courage when facing adversity, misfortune and danger …

Some More Descriptive Words

Bastion .. Strong hold both physical and also used as a figure of speech – bastion of democracy

Leviathan … physically huge, vast .. like the sea or a huge animal .. or a pile of rubble ..

Frankenstein … a monster product which destroys its own maker …

Infinitude … of time and space … limitless, without end ..

Efficacy …  akin utility but more to the point .. the effciacy of the new policy was yet to be tested..

Limbo .. indefinite border or end .. ‘the issue was put in limbo’

Catharsis … a cleansing .. a purging of the soul or sordid ideas .. a personality or character change for the better  ..

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‘bats in the bell fry’ …

Posted on October 25, 2008. Filed under: Vocabulary/Words |

“The jabbering of these finance analysts is like the fluttering of bats in the bellfry

the untamed.

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Common Negative Words which have Power

Posted on August 16, 2008. Filed under: Vocabulary/Words |

Denial Words –renounce,

Abjure – a word you use for self or another to give up, renounce, disclaim, refuse, forswear under oath, to recant …. give up bad habits ie  ‘abjure sinful ways.

Proscribe – a word used by an organization to prohibit, place beyond the pale,  to ban ie gambling was proscribed in the house ie banned.

Ostracize – its a more personal word and used for an individual who is to excluded from all intercourse, and social activity favours or privileges … to place outside a circle ie those that had bad debts were ostracized by the community, a social form of beinng ‘outlawed’

Rescind –repeal, annul, cancel, abolish, change or nullify past orders/practice ie rescind orders passed by the previous incumbent.

Nullify – to reduce to reduntantcy, to make useless, negate, to deprive of effect … His family’s behaviour nullified his good deeds.

Repudiate – a common word for challenging or answering or disownning an argument; refuse to acknowledge; to disclaim; disown; renounce

Confute – an uncommon word; perharps a combination of confusing and refuting; means  to prove wrong .. He confuted his critics or refuted the argument and proved it false.

Wilfred Funk

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Disraeli – ‘with words we govern men’

Posted on August 15, 2008. Filed under: Vocabulary/Words |

Words which describe human behaviour –

Abhor — to hate and loathe something.

Condone — forgive and pardon behaviour of another.

Commiserate — sympathize with the sorrows and misfortune, misdeeds  and crimes of others.

Covet — ignobly crave the possessions of another;  even a wife or property of another.

Expiate —  pay and atone for past sins, crimes and shortcomings.

Grovel —  to abjectly humble oneself amounting to crawling before another.

Importune — trouble with insistent and repeated demands or favours.

Gormandize — devour food like one famished … over eat like a glutton.

Malinger — feign sickness to avoid and shirk duty and responsibility.

Languish — ‘grow pale and weak because of being in jail or hopelessly in love.

Wilfred Funk – ‘Six Weeks to Words of Power’

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These Words are Helpful Friends …

Posted on May 20, 2008. Filed under: Vocabulary/Words |

Abstemious –   sparing in the use of food and drink … ascetic, spartan, sparing .. simple .. parsimonius Altruist  –        opposite of egoist … regard for needs or interests of others       Ambivert –     in between an extrovert and introvert …Antipathy –    dislike              acrimony …..        anomoly …….  analogy …  Atheist ……   agnostic

Banal …………. benefactor………….  benediction …….. benevolence ………..  bete noire         

carte blanche ……… chicanery …………    chimirecal ……… circumspectly ………..   clairvoyant ………..    complacent ………….compunction ………….  concomitantly ………….   crass – crude, boorish  

Deport – carry oneself  …..      desultory ……….        didactically …………   diffident …………..  dilettante ……….  dogmatic         

effete …….    effervescent ………elite ………….   emulate …………………………….  enervate    ………………       ennui  ………..             epigram ………….         equanimity  …………..     ennervate  …  eulogy  ……………     euphimism. ……………      expiate……………

 Facet ………… fetish …………..forte …………….. faux pas (dropping a brick) …………

Gregarious ……………….  gullible …………….Hypochondria ………………

Iconoclastic …….. imbroglio …………….  impasse ………. impede …………  importune …………impute ………. importune ……………  inane …………. inadvertantly ………………inane ……. . intermittent ……….. irasibly

Jingoist ……….. Kleptomaniac……………. Loquacious …..

Macabre ……… machiavellian ………….  magnum opus ……..  malediction ………. martinet … maudlin ………… moribund ….. mulct ……

Non sequitar ……… numismatist (coin collector) ….. … obsequious ……….. ostrasize  ……… Oedipus complex (mama’s boy)   …………. 

Panacea .. pander ……. parania (persecution delusions) …….. parvenu (lower in social scale) .. pedant ………. penury ……. perfunctory …… peremptory ………. patrician and plebian  profligate ……… 

uo Vadis (who goes there?) ………  quixotic …… vegetate vs rusticate (waste life vs energize in the countryside) …

Savior faire (perfect poise) …….. saturnine (grave gloomy heavy seddom smiling) …….. sardonic (bitter sneering scornful)  ……….. soporific speaker (whose speech puts one to sleep) ……… specious (hard to accept reasoning) .. …… suave (smooth) …. stoic (indifferent to pain and pleasure)  ………… sub rosa (hidden)……….. supercilious …….. sycophant …. surreptious ……

Taciturn ………… truculent …….. tyro ………… ubiquitous (everywhere) …….. unctuous (smug smooth pretence of concern)  ………… vapid (lifeless) ……………… vicarious (enjoy w/o doing actually) ….. virago (nag and scold woman) …………. virtuoso ……..


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