Historic Peculiarities

Wierd stuff

Sigmund Freud had a morbid fear of ferns.

In India it costs more to buy a condom than to hire a prostitute with a view to putting that condom to use.

The Hundred Year War lasted one hundred and sixteen years.

The Battle of Hastings took place in a place called Battle. It’s fairly near Hastings, but imagine turning up with your sword and shield in the wrong place.

Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, never phoned his wife or his mother. They were both deaf.

Einstein couldn’t speak fluently until he was nearly ten. His parents thought he might be retarded.

Donald Duck’s middle name is Fauntleroy.

In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart never said “Play it again, Sam.” Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson,” and Captain Kirk never said “Beam me up, Scotty.” They all used similar phrases from those quoted, but history has improved on the originals.

The steam catapult of an aircraft carrier that helps planes to take off from the short deck packs one hell of a punch. It could throw your Lada or Skoda over a mile. And a jolly good thing too.

There’s an old joke about a rabbi and a priest in a railway carriage. (Why do these apocryphal conversations always happen on trains?) They got to talking and eventually the discussion touched on religion and the different beliefs. When pushed the rabbi admitted he’d once tried some bacon. Just for research, you understand. Emboldened by this, the priest confessed to having enjoyed sexual intercourse. Just once. Just for research. They look at each other, then the rabbi grins; “Better than bacon, eh?”

Truth is, as ever, stranger than crappy jokes. Four Popes have died whilst enjoying sex: Leo VII (936-9) died of a heart attack. John VII (955-64) was bludgeoned to death by the husband of the woman he was with at the time. John XIII (965-72) was also murdered by a jealous husband. Last and most surprising was Pope Paul II (1467-71) who allegedly died whilst being sodomised by a page boy. No case has yet been recorded of a rabbi dying whilst noshing a bacon sandwich.

Have you got a clock or watch with a face that uses Roman numerals? If the clock is made correctly then the Roman numeral four is wrong. The standard and correct way to write the Roman numeral four is ‘IV’, but the traditional way to show it on a clock face is ‘IIII’. Legend has it that a clock was made for a British king whose knowledge of Roman numbers was scanty. The clock-maker used the ‘IV’, but was told off by the king. The clock-maker immediately changed the number to ‘IIII’, and now nobody would care to change back to the proper way of doing things.

Similarly, the Spanish pronunciation of various words using a ‘TH’ sound instead of ‘S’ dates from the time of a king whose name escapes me for the moment, but who had a terrible lisp. Or lithp.

I’m reliably informed that if you put a raisin in a glass of champagne, it will rise to the top, then sink to the bottom, then rise again, etc., etc. Probably something to do with specific gravity and the rough skin of the raisin accumulating bubbles which then burst on contact with air, etc. Or just a load of crap. Try it. I prefer to deal with champagne in the traditional manner.

Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around.

Pogonophobia is the fear of beards.

In the middle ages, before Monty Python discovered the holy grail, armoured knights raised their visors to identify themselves when they rode past their king. This custom has become the modern military salute.

During the 18th century, visitors to the royal palace in Versailles were allowed to stand in a roped-off section of the main dining room and watch the king and queen eat.

Take a piece of paper. Any piece, though preferably something large and thin. Fold it in half. Then again. And again. Getting tough? No matter what its size or thickness, no piece of paper can be folded in half more than seven times. There is a very good reason for this.

On the other hand, I’m fairly reliably informed that this is a load of old… Please experiment with large sheets of tissue and let me know.