Posts by Max Cryer

Max’s Dogs – Every Dog has its day

When pioneer Scottish settlers in the nineteenth century arrived in the southern part of New Zealand, the terrain was a challenge – but they had brought their dogs. In the area known as the Mackenzie country (where part of The Lord of the Rings was filmed over a hundred years later), the mountainous plateau might have remained unfarmed had it not been for the hard work of the shepherds and their tireless dogs.

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Superstitions and why we have them – broken mirrors

For many centuries, the soul was perceived as separable from the body, and never so clearly as when seeing one’s reflection in a pool or a mirror. The reflection there was believed to be your soul on a brief walkabout from your body. But having been separated for a short time in this way, the soul normally returned home safely to within its owner – unless a water creature snapped the soul into ripples or, in later centuries, a mirror broke.

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Who said that first? – Hear no evil, see no evil

It’s doubtful that anyone ever said it in English before the end of the 17th century. The concept of ‘see not evil, ‘hear not evil’, ‘speak not evil’ related back to Confucius in China, several hundred years BC, and then travelled to Japan, where it was known for centuries as a moral maxim. By a trick of the Japanese language, the maxim eventually became known world-wide.

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Curious words – (Out for a) duck

From Max Cryer’s  CURIOUS English words and phrases – the truth behind the expressions we use:

(Out for a) duck

 Cricket usually has a visual scoreboard and if a player leaves the field having made no runs,  a great big zero stands next to his or her name on the scoreboard.  A practice arose many years ago of referring to this  zero – because of its shape- as a duck’s egg, and this was shortened to just a duck. So if he or she was out for a duck, it means there was no score.

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“I will do thy bidding gently…”

Richard Wagner was  devoted to his King Charles spaniel named Peps, who  actually participated  in his master’s composing.

Wagner’s biographer H.T. Finck records that Peps constantly sat near Wagner when the composer was at the piano. Sometimes Peps would leap on to the table and peer into Wagner’s face, howling piteously.

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M’aidez or Mayday?

Max

From Max Cryer‘s  book ‘Is It True?’

The distress call ‘mayday’ is English for the French term m’aidez.

 Using the word ‘mayday’ dates from 1923, when a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport was asked to think of an easily understood  word which could indicate distress.

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