Tuesday, 11 November 2014

At Home

I recently read At Home by Bill Bryson.


It's a collection of weird and wonderful facts about the social history of various features of his house. I thought it was brilliant.

These were my favourite bits:
  • Traditionally people had three castors on their dining room tables - one for salt, one for pepper, and one for probably for mustard, but no one can find conclusive evidence that it was indeed mustard at all. It kind of could be anything.
  • No one's dead certain what a tuffet (of Little Miss Muffet fame) is either. 
  • John Lubbock was a particularly brilliant man, who was responsible for both the Bank Holiday Act 1871 and (huzzah!) the Ancient Monuments Act 1882.
  • There was a town in Suffolk that was washed away in a flood in 1286, but still had a parliament representative until 1832.
  • Doors in old houses are sometimes short because they were expensive to make, not because their owners were short.
  • Georgian wigs were occasionally made of the wearer's own hair (go figure).
  • 'Gymnasium' means 'the naked place' in ancient Greek (makes sense I s'pose).
  • My absolute favourite fact - There was a lady who convinced a whole lot of doctors that she was giving birth to rabbits - as it was 'improper' for the male doctors to actually look at her giving birth, it took quite some time before anyone caught on to the hoax.

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