Red Herrings and White Elephants

Red Herrings and White Elephants

Albert Jack

Nonfiction / Humanities / Language

Mad hatter . . . pie in the sky . . . egg on your face. We use these phrases every day, yet how many of us know what they really mean or where they came from?From bringing home the bacon to leaving no stone unturned, the English language is peppered with hundreds of common idioms borrowed from ancient traditions and civilizations throughout the world. In Red Herrings and White Elephants, Albert Jack has uncovered the amazing and sometimes downright bizarre stories behind many of our most familiar and eccentric modes of expression:If you happen to be a bootlegger, your profession recalls the Wild West outlaws who sold illegal alcohol by concealing slender bottles of whiskey in their boots. If you're on cloud nine, you owe a nod to the American Weather Bureau's classification of clouds, the ninth topping out all others at a mountainous 40,000 feet. If you opt for the hair of the dog the morning after, you're following...
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Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes

Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes

Albert Jack

Nonfiction / Humanities / Language

Mr Jack has been nimble and he's been quick, searching through the history of nursery rhymes and he's found out all kind of plum tales, just like little Jack Horner. He's unearthed the answers to some very curious questions...Who were Mary Quite Contrary and Georgie Porgie? How could Hey Diddle Diddle offer an essential astronomy lesson? And if Ring a Ring a Roses isn't about catching the plague, then, what is it really about? The ingenious book delves into the hidden meanings of the nursery rhymes and songs we all know so well and discovers all kinds of strange tales ranging from Viking raids to firewalking and from political rebellion to slaves being smuggled to freedom. Children have always played at being grown up and all kinds of episodes in our history are still being re-enacted today in a series of dark games (Oranges and Lemons traces a condemned man's journey across London to his execution, Goosie Gander is about dragging a hidden Catholic priest to prison) And there are many many more. Full of vivid illustrations and with each verse reproduced, here are a multitude of surprising stories you won't be able to resist passing on to everyone you know. Your childhood songs and rhymes will never sound the same again.ReviewAn irresistible treasure-trove ... The way these gossipy little rhymes give us a snapshot of everyday life in centuries gone by is enchanting. You'll never look at nursery rhymes again in the same way Daily Mirror The history behind nursery rhymes is not only highly specific but often splendidly grim. This book is a reminder of the riches below the surface: characters, jokes, events and stories The Times About the AuthorWhen not engaged in research, Albert Jack lives somewhere between Guildford and Cape Town, where he divides his time between fast living and slow horses, neat vodka and untidy pubs.
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The Old Dog and Duck

The Old Dog and Duck

Albert Jack

Nonfiction / Humanities / Language

This is a book for everyone who has ever wondered why pubs should be called The Cross Keys, The Dew Drop Inn or The Hope and Anchor. You'll be glad to know that there are very good - strange and memorable - reasons behind them all.After much research about (and in) pubs, Albert Jack brings together the stories behind pub names to reveal how they offer fascinating and subversive insights on our history, customs, attitudes and jokes in just the same way that nursery rhymes do. The Royal Oak, for instance, commemorates the tree that hid Charles II from Cromwell's forces after his defeat at Worcester; The Bag of Nails is a corruption of the Bacchanals, the crazed followers of Bacchus, the god of wine and drunkenness; The Cat and the Fiddle a mangling of Catherine La Fidele and a guarded gesture of support for Henry VIII's first, Catholic, wife Catherine of Aragon; plus many, many more.Here too are even more facts about everything from ghosts to drinking songs to the rules of...
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