Posts by Max Cryer

Superstitions – Impotence

If they have faith in an old superstition, men who are concerned about their sexual vigour should eat a generous amount of rabbit kidneys. Rabbits are known to very procreative, by why their kidneys were regarded as the seat of their rampant passions has never been explained. (Nor is there any suggestion that another part of the male rabbit might provide a more logical encouragement.)

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Max’s Dogs – Kublai Khan’s dogs

In the 13th  century Marco Polo reported from China that Kublai Khan of Cathay had two kivichi  or Masters of the Chase, each commanding 10,000 men assisting the Khan to command a total of  5,000 dogs in tracking, hunting, and killing  wildlife. Marco Polo didn’t mention how big the kennels must have been.

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King Henry III of France (1575) was a devoted dog lover – perhaps a bit too devoted. He owned 2,000 dogs, so perhaps it is just as well that he had several palaces. He liked to have 100 dogs within patting distance, and he went walkabout with 20 at a time.

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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