Author’s blogs

RSS Simon Leyland Blog

  • Beckett and the breadcrumb……
      When Samuel Beckett lived briefly in Berlin, his regular haunt was a restaurant called the Giraffe. While sitting there one day after finishing his meal, he was asked by his waiter “Why is there no expression of hope in your work?” After a trademark Beckett silence, he picked up …
    Simon Leyland
  • To call a spade a spade
        This phrase derives from an ancient Greek expression: “to call a fig a fig, a trough a trough”. It is first recorded in Aristophanes’ play The Clouds (423 B.C.), and was also used by Plutarch in his Moralia half a century later .Apparently some scholars believe that both …
    Simon Leyland
  • The Oscillating Osculator……….
      In 1939, Max Factor Jr created The Kissing Machine or Mechanical Osculator. This came about after workers who were previously employed to test the indelibility of the lipstick-  in essence having to count the number of kisses it took on tissue paper before the lipstick wore off, quickly got …
    Simon Leyland
  • The rise and fall of Chocfinger…….
      Anthony Ward, a British commodities trader who set up a hedge fund specialising in chocolate, earned himself the nickname Chocfinger, by analogy with the Bond villain Goldfinger, who tried to take control of US gold reserves. Chocfinger didn’t go as far as his namesake, but he did have many …
    Simon Leyland
  • Medieval pregnancy tips………
      Taken from Ad mulieres ferrarienses by a Giovanni Michele Savonarola (1384-1462) which was probably written in 1450. If a woman walks over a garden bed or a field within six weeks of giving birth, then nothing will grow on it in the next few years, or everything will perish. …
    Simon Leyland
  • Manners maketh man………….
      As England became more prosperous in the 16th century there was a renewed focus on etiquette and manners. As befitting the influence of the renaissance this was also a time which saw a renewed interest in ‘household ordinances and serving manuals’- namely a series of Anglo-Latin courtesy poems which …
    Simon Leyland
  • A very,very short history of the washing machine…..
      For centuries, people on sea voyages washed their clothes by placing the dirty laundry in a strong cloth bag, tossing it overboard, and letting the ship drag the bag for hours. The principle was sound: forcing water through clothes to remove dirt. Early hand-operated washing machines attempted to incorporate …
    Simon Leyland
  • Descartes and his cross-eyed women…….
    René Descartes (1596–1650) the French philosopher, mathematician and writer is perhaps the only example of a sexual eccentricity changing the history of Western thought. For René “I think, therefore I am” Descartes had a fetish for cross-eyed women which he believed came from a childhood fascination with a cross-eyed playmate …
    Simon Leyland
  • A very, very short history of the lawn mower……..
      In a fine example of nominative determinism, the lawn mower was the creation of a British gardener named Budding. As foreman in an English textile plant, Edwin Budding was familiar with a new rotary shearing machine used to cut nap off cotton cloth. In the 1820s, he wondered if …
    Simon Leyland
  • A brief history of dentures…..
    The Etruscans, who inhabited Italy in the area that is modern Tuscany, are regarded as the best dentists of the ancient world. They extracted decayed teeth, replacing them with full or partial dentures, in which individual teeth were realistically carved from ivory or bone and bridgework was crafted in gold. …
    Simon Leyland

RSS Alex Hyland Blog

  • Hung, Drawn and Cornered
    I try not to be too overprotective as a father, but it’s a hard line to navigate. Needless to say, I want to keep my…Continue ReadingHung, Drawn and Cornered
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  • Gluten-free Weirdness
    I’ve been gluten-free for about two years now. I’ve developed a mildly apocalyptic reaction to wheat, and I do my best to steer clear of…Continue ReadingGluten-free Weirdness
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  • Lousy Lunch
    Jodie took a sip of frosted wheatgrass juice, then shook her head. ‘You wasted yourself,’ she said. I eyed her a moment. Wasted? ‘You could…Continue ReadingLousy Lunch
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  • Marilyn
    As imaginary girlfriends go, the one I probably had most trouble with was Marilyn Monroe. She just wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s a tricky situation…Continue ReadingMarilyn
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  • Amazing Millie and Northwind the Zombie
    I’ve been trying to teach my six year old daughter, Jessica, the basics of story-telling. I sat her down and talked her through a very…Continue ReadingAmazing Millie and Northwind the Zombie
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