Saturday, 20 January 2018

Do you care about punctuation?

This Week In History

Births – Sophie , Countess of Wessex, Rasputin, Christian Dior, Jack Nicklaus,  Martin Shaw (aww… The Professionals), Geena Davis, Walter Raleigh, Warren Zevon, Virginia Woolf, Alicia Keys, Paul Newman, Lucinda Williams (1953)

Deaths – Audrey Hepburn, Peggy Lee, Queen Victoria, Anna Pavlova, Mary Tyler Moore,

Events – inaugurations of Presidents , Edward VIII became king, First Jumbo Jet goes into service (1970),  First female doctor in the US (1849), first woman Secretary of State (1997), Apple Mac goes on sale (1984), Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn, Idi Amin becomes President of Uganda (1971)

Friday, 19 January 2018

Where did that come from? Some more odd sayings

Kangaroo Court – this one has its very own Wiki page!  Now you might think this one came from Australia – the only country as far as I know with kangaroos.  But no, the first recorded instance of it is American.  It means a judicial or court process that is not fair or well run.

Taking the Mickey  - if you are taking the Mickey out of someone you are making fun of them – not usually in a mean way.  Wiki thinks that Mickey is a reference to Michael Bliss  (and Bliss is cockney rhyming slang for a word starting with 'p'.  That seems a bit far-fetched to me – but who really knows.  One thing is certain – the Mickey is not a reference to the famous cartoon mouse.

Red Herring – this is a deliberate device by someone (maybe an author) to set a clue that is misleading and diverts you from the truth.  But why a herring and why red?  There is no  such fish as a red herring…  There is no real consensus about this.  Most theories seem to think that it is a reference to a strongly scented preserved fish or kipper.  It may have been used in training hounds to follow scents.

Saved by the Bell – this is used when a time comes up or something happens that means you don't have to do something disagreeable or won't be punished.  The saying originally almost certainly came from boxing – where someone is almost down and out but the bell rings for the end of the round.  There are other theories – one gruesome one is that in olden times they rigged up coffins with a bell that could be rung from inside in the event that the person woke up while being buried.

Straight from the Horse's Mouth – the meaning of this is straight forward – it is getting some information from the original source rather than from second hand sources.  I think it is a horse racing term in that punters (betters) believed that if they got a tip from someone in direct contact with the horse that it was more valuable.  But other than the adorable Mr Ed, horses don't talk.