Posted in June 2012

An English Lesson

An English Lesson

Drifting round hostels the past year I have had a lot of conversations with people struggling with the illogicality of the language you are reading this in, and I generally explain the many bear traps – especially in pronunciation – in terms of the word origins, but last night I got a really odd notion … Continue reading

Sci Fi Origins

Sci Fi Origins

I recently saw a short clip by Isaac Asimov on the origins os Science Fiction. He claimed the Golden Age was between 1938-50 when so much good fiction, especially short stories were being produced. He cited 1938 as a significant year because that was the year after  John W Campbell became editor of Astonishing Stories, … Continue reading

The Mother of Wales

The Mother of Wales

This is a portrait of Katheryn of Berain, (1540 or 41 – 1591) who is said to have been the granddaughter of the illegitimate son of Henry VII by ‘a Breton lady’ which makes her a member of the Tudor family who often claiemed links with Wales and King Arthur in order to make their … Continue reading

Well Done Water, By God!

Well Done Water, By God!

This is how the artist Richard Wilson (1714-82) commented on the Cascate delle Marmore, or Marmore falls that he painted whilst on the Grand Tour in the 18th century.Wilson is considered by many to be the finest painter Wales has produced, was one of the founders of the Royal Academy, and claimed to be the … Continue reading

Ancient Bodies Politic

Ancient Bodies Politic

It is impossible  to understand how society worked in the past without understanding the status, and roles of people within society. Towns had restrictions on who could practice a trade or sell goods within their walls, and the right was either by birth, by completing an apprenticeship or by marrying into a family that had … Continue reading

Masterless Men and Vagabond Persons

Masterless Men and Vagabond Persons

When the first theatres opened in London, from 1576 the city was still a small place. The wealthy had large mansions with gardens,often the first place where exotic plants were grown. Opposite St Mary le Bow was a tilting ground and on Cornhill in summer and winter was the running of the quintain, or jousting. … Continue reading

Safe Entertainments

Safe Entertainments

The reason that so few early theatres survive is in part, or largely, due to the fact that they had a tendency to burn down. They were often made of wood, lit by candles and/or oil, and smoking was allowed, so it is more a surprise that any survive at all. To keep building costs … Continue reading

Animals and Insults

Animals and Insults

I am still kicking around this idea of how kids especially in British cities – don’t know  where their food comes from, ie animals. And I’m also thinking about how much of our language includes animal metaphors and similes. There are a ton of insults that are based on animals, like scaredy cat, cowardly lion … Continue reading

Vampire Update

Vampire Update

From today’s newspaper – in North Yorkshire – that’s not far from Dracula’s landing place of Whitby I assume – a Victorian vampire slaying kit recently sold for a mere £7,500. It comprised a pistol, a bottle of holy water, a crucifix, woodenstakes and a mallet, and an 1851 Book of Common Prayer.

A Possible Sighting of St James

A Possible Sighting of St James

A few posts back I was kicking around the idea of where the inspiration for the jazz/blues song St James’ Infirmary Blues came from, in the wake of Jools Holland claimed it was from London. This may be a complete red herring, but Charles Dibdin seems to be lurking in the region. He was a … Continue reading