Sunday 21 November 2021

Received Ideas in Quotes 20

Westerns used to be written by people who had never left England, leading to solecisms like Overhead, the coyotes were circling.

People have stopped washing during lockdown.

Mikhail Gorbachev was a big fan of
Twin Peaks and asked George H.W. Bush to find out for him who killed Laura Palmer. David Lynch was contacted by the producers on behalf of the president but didn’t tell them the answer. (@qikipedia. Urban myth, says @thornewip – probably based on a contemporary political cartoon.)

Hotpot is from hodge-podge, which is from the Spanish olla podrida or stew. (Sounds convincing.)

Below the salt: The lack of access that the English poor had to spices (or anything to make their food taste better) is pretty well expressed in the phrase 'below the salt', which was a term for the lowly folks at the bottom of the table who did not even have access to that. (@Cavalorn. Take this story cum grano salis. It’s a long refectory table and the salt is in the middle. The posh folks sat at the head, but the salt was for everybody.)

British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, who lived at Brocket Hall, died while shagging a maid on the snooker table. This is also where Lady Caroline Lamb lived and was wont to have herself served to dinner party guests, stark naked, from a giant soup tureen. (AJB He also says that priests on both sides were burned at the stake in “Romeland”, a street in St Albans, hence the name.)

A ‘grass’ or informant began with the rhyming slang ‘grasshopper/shopper’, because they shop a former accomplice. (@susie_dent)

Stationer: A bookseller who had a regular "station" or shop at a university, unlike most booksellers, who were itinerant vendors. (Free Dictionary)

Pockets in women’s clothes were phased out as men feared the women were carrying evil spells. (Women had “pockets” – purses that hung from their belt, or from the waistband inside their skirt, accessible through a placket.)

I knew a nurse who said "boys can get venereal diseases from toilets just like girls can". Also a lot of nurses are superstitious as hell. I've been trying to squash the belief that a full moon causes busier shifts among my coworkers for years. (@BoraxMr)

In 1988, a school friend and I did the Interrail thing. Was fun. He had no liking for yer Cultural Aspects, though. Was silent around Paris one day. On the way back to the hostel, he suddenly goes, "Will ye look at that! What will they think of next!?" It was a wheelie bin. (@galahadlake)

The tarte Tatin is a pastry in which the fruit is caramelised in butter and sugar before the tart is baked. It was created accidentally at the Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, Loir-et-Cher, France, in the 1880s. (@Wikivictorian. Along with Bakelite, Lamingtons and many more.)

Think, for example, of so-called voodoo death. The witch-doctor has merely to cast his spell of death upon a man and within hours the victim will collapse and die. (Robin Humphrey, 2021 Featured in a detective story by Arthur Upward in 1938; became something that “everybody knows”.)

They are locks, not dreadlocks. The dread part came from the British army who in the 1850s dreaded meeting the Ethiopian tribesmen who wore their hair in locks. (@SertimaB)

Try not to allow Western interpretations of words to influence how you see things. "Dread" root origin is "Before it got the name ‘Rastafari’ its followers called themselves ‘dreads’, signifying their ‘dread’ and respect for God." (@AntoineSpeaker. He’s a TV reporter who’s been told off for appearing with “locks” – neatly plaited and short.)

A half-truth about St Francis (1181-1226) is that he preached to birds - like a 12th century Dr Dolittle. The truth is he was banned from preaching to people by the Vatican. By preaching to birds & letting humans overhear he bent the rules. (@MrEwanMorrison. He adds: "English-language catalogue from the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi." He further adds that the brochure (or current scholarship) wanted to make St Francis’ story less mythical and more political. There seem to have been various bans on itinerant preachers – they had to get permission from the local church before addressing the public. More research needed.)

What little evidence we have suggests that actual medieval pagans (in medieval Lithuania, for example) had stricter sexual mores than medieval Christians. When people associate pagans with sexual freedom, all they're doing is projecting C19th fantasies onto the past.

The reason why people don’t want to believe in God is because if they do, they know they will have to obey Him. That’s the real reason. That’s why they suppress the truth. (@grcastleberry)

What was an urban legend everyone “knew” when you were young? For some reason everyone firmly believed Polo Mints counteracted the morning after pill. (@Alrightpunk)

Was it Samuel Johnson who inserted the B in "subtle", just as he listed "furrin" as "foreign" on a mistaken understanding of its etymology? ("Foreign" goes back further and was once spelled “forayne”. Chaucer? This sounds American as they’re more likely to say “furrin”.)

“The answer is a lemon” comes from the one-armed bandit machine. Three fruit in a row was a winner unless the fruits were lemons. (HC)

More here, and links to the rest. And there are many, many more in my book What You Know that Ain't So.

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