Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Writing - Origins of all sorts of things

Firstly a tribute to a man brought up in the village next to where I was raised over 60 years ago.

1. TRIBUTES have poured in for the man who got the word Mackem in the dictionary.

Mike “the Mouth” Elliott, 68, lost his long battle with cancer this morning, leaving behind a rich legacy of comedy for which he will always be remembered.
Raised in Farringdon, Mike went on to forge a hugely successful career in the entertainment industry as an actor in films such as Billy Elliot, as a controversial radio phone-in host, stand up comedian and television presenter.
The outspoken comic was given the nickname “Mike The Mouth” when he launched his well-known late night talk show on Century FM.
Whilst appearing on BBC show Balderdash and Piffle, in which the writers of the dictionary asked the public for help in finding the origins of words and phrases, he managed to get Mackem in the dictionary.

For those who have seen the film Billy Elliot he was the boxing trainer.

2. Underpants


When Howard Carter discovered King Tutankhamun's tomb, alongside the treasure were 145 pairs of underpants. However, these were not the first examples of the garment. The mummified corpse of Otzi the Iceman, murdered in the Tyrolean Alps 5300 years ago, revealed a goatskin loin cloth.
Most European men and women went pantless until the mid-19th century, with ladies wearing long smocks under their dresses and men tucking their shirt tails between their legs.

3. Spend a penny on a potty

A Roman toilet from Ephesus in Turkey

I took this photograph while visiting Ephesus in Turkey. There is no doubt that going to the toilet was a social activity and you can see about a third of the number of places above. Toilet paper wasn't available but a shared sponge on a stick was used for cleansing the bum. It wasn't until 1857 that massed produced toilet paper was available in the UK. The Chinese were wiping with hygienic paper in the ninth century.

4. Take a shower

William Feetham's shower 1767

The modern shower was invented by William Feetham in 1767. The above example is on wheels and you would have had to be careful not to roll away. There were other versions in which water was only sprinkled if an exercise bike was pedalled.
The ancient people of Pakistan, the Harappans, were well ahead of even the Greeks in hygiene perfecting a public sanitation system. Whereas the Romans and Greeks created buildings with running water and heating, they were 2500 years behind the Harappans in delivering water to most of their homes.


There are other examples I have in my possession but it is almost Christmas and I'm sure you don't want to read about body lice, teeth cleaning slaves and the developments of beds.

God Bless