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Steed's Miscellany

Quirky information and random trivia with a tip of the hat to Ben Schott. All in no logical order. (Not entirely suitable for children or Presbyterians)

By Nicholas Steed

Why others think we're peculiar: The panelists on the British TV quiz show QI fell over laughing when they got the answer to the question "What's banned in Canada?" Correct reply: Door knobs. Most building regulations ban them in new construction in favor of lever handles to assist the disabled.

Great scoops from Down Under: Following the death of the Argentinian soccer super-star Diego Maradona, an Australian TV station reported that pop star Madonna had died.

Helpful academic tips: At Oxford University using the word "always" in an essay gets you failed for sloppy thinking. Turns out it is always possible to find an exception to any use of the word. Always.

Posh peeing in Paris: On any evening in the swanky arrondissements of Paris you will see limousines pull up and elegantly dressed men and women step out in front of luxurious apartments and townhouses. They are there to attend dinner parties.

What happens next is shocking to the uninitiated. The women lift up their couturier dresses to squat and the men unbutton their flies. Everyone lets loose. The reason: it is considered unpardonably bad manners to ask an upper-class French hostess to use her lavatory.

More on same subject: The English novelist Kingsley Amis was invited by an aristocrat to lunch at a stately country home. His host asked if he wished to wash his hands before sitting down. "No thanks," said Amis. "I washed them behind a bush on the way down here."

World War wipes: In World War 2 British troops were issued with three sheets of toilet paper a day. Americans got 22. May explain why the Americans usually got first crack at English girls.

Could also explain why Americans still do better: Recently it was reported by the UK Daily Mail that 40 per cent of Covid locked-down Brits have given up taking regular showers or baths. The French are even worse. According to the newspaper Le Figaro half of them don't bathe regularly at all. They buy less soap than any other European nation.

Churchilliana: On having it pointed out to him that his flies were undone, Winston Churchill replied "A dead bird seldom falls out of its nest." Attributed to him on many occasions, many of them apocryphal.

Churchilliana 2: Asked why he was so fond of pigs, Churchill said, "Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you but pigs look you straight in the eye."

Churchilliana 3: While in bed talking on the telephone to the head of the British army, Churchill suddenly shouted "Bugger off!" When the startled army chief recovered Churchill explained that his cat, Nelson, had disturbed him by jumping on the bed.

She should know dept.: The ever-wonderful Joni Mitchell 's thoughts on love: "What happens when you date is that you run all your best moves and tell all your best stories – and in a way, that routine is a method for falling in love with yourself over and over.

"You can't do that with a long-time mate because [s/he] knows all that old material. With a long relationship, things die, then are rekindled, and that shared process of rebirth deepens the love. You learn a way of loving that's different from the neurotic love enshrined in movies. It's warmer and has more padding to it."

Her lovers have included Sam Shepard, Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen, Church Mitchell, Graham Nash, James Taylor, David Crosby and possibly a Tibetan Buddhist monk, among others.

But then afterwards: The honeymoon phase doesn't go on forever. According to a 2005 study by the University of Pavia in Italy, it lasts about a year. After that, levels of a chemical called "nerve growth factor," associated with intense romantic feelings, start to fall.

A dubious theory on why heterosexual men are so attracted to female breasts: Some researchers believe heterosexual men are fascinated by women's breasts thanks to a simple hormone released during nursing which helps to forge the powerful bond between mother and baby, which in turn creates an evolutionary drive for a strong nurturing bond between lovers. A survey showed that stimulating the breasts or nipples enhanced sexual arousal in about 82 per cent of women, and nearly 60 per cent ask to have their nipples touched.

Wake-me-when-it's-over headline contest winner: "My parents never had snow tires." Globe and Mail.

Investing advice from Warren Buffet, often called world's most successful investor: Buy low-cost Exchange Traded Index Funds such as Vanguard's S&P 500 and hold forever. Over time, such funds outperform almost all managed portfolios.

Buffet on Bitcoin: "Rat poison squared." Other Bitcoin comments: Charlie Munger - Buffet's longtime business partner - “disgusting... stupid... turds”; Jamie Dimon, Chairman JPMorgan Chase investment bank, “fraud... worse than tulip bulbs;” Nouriel Roubini, economist, "mother of all scams." Bitcoin's price rose from $4900 in March 2020 to a three-year high of $19,700 in early December 2020.

Best Military Insult: General Sir Gerald Templer to Admiral Lord Mountbatten: "Dickie, you're so crooked that if you swallowed a nail you'd shit a corkscrew!"

Insults from Shakespeare:

"The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes." Coriolanus.

"Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood." King Lear.

"You starvling, you eel-skin, you dried neat's tongue, you bull's pizzle, you stock-fish." Henry 1V, Part 1.

"Villain, I have done thy mother." Titus Andronicus.

Four French words and expressions to amaze and impress non-French speakers and two slang words:

1. Ce n'est pas la mer à boire. Literal translation: “It’s not as if you have to drink the sea.” Actual meaning: “It’s not that difficult” or “It’s not a big deal.” Use it when someone complains about doing something.

2. Farouche: can mean shy and fierce at the same time. No exact equivalent in English.

3. Le violon d'Ingres: The 19th century painter Jean August Ingres was also a top-class violinist. Expression refers to someone who is almost equally good at a hobby or a second passionate pursuit.

4. Comme on fait son lit, on se couche: “You’ve made your bed, now lie on it."

Two easy French slang words:

Dar: It's great!

Reuch: Expensive!

Hockey-related Canadian abuse:

Bender: A bad hockey player – one whose skates are so badly tied that his ankles bend.

Chiseler: A hockey player who falsely claims he got an assist when he didn’t, thus “chiseling” points from his teammate.

Dusty/duster: A hockey player who spends all his time on the bench, gathering dust.

Hoser: The classic Canadian insult. Originally refers to the losers of a hockey game, who, in pre-Zamboni times, would have to hose the rink down once the game was done. Now it’s a synonym for loser - but with a particularly Canadian flavour.

Pigeon: A hockey player who isn’t good enough to score goals on his own, so he picks up the trash shots made by his other teammates.

Sieve: A really terrible goalie (i.e. one that lets through lots of shots, like a sieve).

Victorian slang:

Gigglemug - someone always smiling

Bitch the pot - pour the tea

Got the morbs - feeling sad

Tight as a boiled owl - drunk

Sauce box - the mouth

Cupid's kettle drums - breasts

Thanks to Adam C. Sharp

Who - me ? When out for a walk in his old age, the movie star Dirk Bogarde was often stopped by strangers who said "Didn't you used to be Dirk Bogarde?"

Canadian National Onanism : Lord Moran, British high commissioner in Ottawa, Canada, between 1981 and 1984, claimed Canadians over-rated their own abilities. He wrote: "Anyone who is even moderately good at what they do – in literature, the theatre, skiing or whatever – tends to become a national figure. And anyone who stands out at all from the crowd tends to be praised to the skies and given the Order of Canada at once."

Part Two to follow shortly.

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These are toooo wonderfully instructive, speaking as a giggly dustymug who will always regret not having breastfed

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