I didn't know that

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by boatsman, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. boatsman

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jan 17, 2008

    I didn't know that! How's your knowledge of the derivation of English phrases?

    There is an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London, which used to have a gallows adjacent to it. Prisoners were taken to the gallows (after a fair trial of course) to be hanged.The horse-drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like ''ONE LAST DRINK''. If he said YES, it was referred to as ONE FOR THE ROAD. If he declined, that prisoner was ON THE WAGON.

    They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were "piss poor", but worse than that were the really poor folk, who couldn't even afford to buy a pot, they "Didn't have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.

    The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

    Here are some facts about the 1500s: Most people got married in June, because they took their yearly bath in May and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor . Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

    Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!"

    Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

    There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom, where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

    The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "dirt poor."

    The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance. Hence: a thresh hold.

    (Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

    In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight, then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: ''Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old''.

    Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over they would hang up their bacon, to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "Bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around talking and ''chew the fat''.

    Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

    Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or ''The Upper Crust''.

    Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of ''Holding a Wake''.

    England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people, so they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, thread it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus someone could be, ''Saved by the Bell" or was considered a ''Dead Ringer''
    ronv likes this.
  2. MaxHeadRoom


    Jul 18, 2013
    A couple more from the sailing days.
    3 square meals a day: ships crew were supplied with 3 meals a day but had no utensils etc, they would get the ships carpenter to make them their own wooden plate, generally made from a square section.
    Swinging the lead: Cushy job swinging the depth finder.
    3 (4) sheets to the wind: Sheets or lines used to trim the sails out to the wind.
    To be Pooped (done in) : A large following wave would be high enough to come over the tall poop deck aft.
  3. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
    Get the book "When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse there is the Devil to Pay"

    Though at least on of the phrases is false like the book's claim that a brass monkey was a brass plate that holds cannonballs. Turns out it was not

    It would be interesting to see if the latest edition has this correction.
  4. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
    When my father and mother were growing up, they took a bath once a week and it was the same deal. Dad got the bath first followed by the kids and mom. My Dad lived in the middle of the city yet had an outhouse. His mom raised chickens in the backyard.
  5. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
    Ever notice those shiny balls in a garden? They are called gazing balls. Back in the day, people had horrible dental hygiene. Hence it was pretty disgusting looking at one anpother while dating so you would meet in the the garden, look at the ball and just see the distorted reflection of your love.
  6. tcmtech

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 4, 2013
    I think the modern day equivalent to that is texting being I can say for a fact my wife's personality and overall demeanor is far more pleasant and appealing in text conversations than she is to talk to face to face. :rolleyes:
  7. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009

    We need LOL smileys.

    The above post could be worth a small fortune in the right hands. :)