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so you think you have it bad (enlighten your day a bit)


*These are very interesting facts *

*If you want to know where most of your sayings came from,*

*Read on*

There is an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London , which used to

have a gallows adjacent to it. Prisoners were taken to the gallows

(after a fair trial of course) to be hung.

The horse-drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an

armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the

prisoner if he would like ''ONE LAST DRINK''.

If he said YES, it was referred to as ONE FOR THE ROAD.

If he declined, that the prisoner was ON THE WAGON.

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all

pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the

tannery.If you had to do this to survive you were called "piss poor", but worse than

that were the really poor folk, who couldn't even afford to buy a pot, they "Didn't

have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the

water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things

used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June, because they took their yearly bath

in May and they still smelled pretty good by June.

However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet

of flowers to hide the body odour.

Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.

The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then

all the sons , then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies.

By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.

Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood

underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the

cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.

When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip

and fall off the roof.

Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.

This posed a real problem in the bedroom, where bugs and other

droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.

Hence, a bed with 4 big posts and a sheet hung over the

top afforded some protection.

That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.

Hence the saying, "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would

get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the

floor to help keep their footing.

As the winter wore on they added more thresh until, when you opened

the door, it would all start slipping outside.

A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't we?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that

always hung over the fire.

Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot.

They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat.

They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to

get cold overnight, then start

over the next day.

Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a

while. Hence the rhyme: ''Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas

porridge in the pot, nine days old''.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.

When visitors came over they would hang up their bacon, to show off.

It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "Bring home the bacon."

They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit

around talking and

''chew the fat''.

Those with money had plates made of pewter.

Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach into the

food, causing lead poisoning and death.

This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or

so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status.

Workers got the burnt bottom

of the loaf, the family got the middle, and the guests got the top,

or ''The Upper Crust''.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky.

The combination would sometimes knock the drinkers out for a couple of


Someone walking along the

road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.

They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather

around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.

Hence the irish custom of ''Holding a Wake''.

England is old and small and the local

folks started running out of places to bury people, so they would dig

up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house and reuse the graves.

When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have

scratch marks on the

inside and they realised they had been burying people alive.

So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, thread it

through the coffin and up through

the ground and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the

graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus someone could be,

''Saved by the Bell''or was considered a ''Dead Ringer''

And that's the truth.

Now, whoever said history was boring ! ! !

Now going to church people who where considered disabled or ill would head for the section of the wall that came out at an angle and lean on this piece of the wall structure because churches in those days didn’t have pews just gravel floors hence the saying THE WEEK GO TO THE WALL.

8 Replies

Absolutely fascinating John. Certainly learned something today.

I knew a couple of them but the rest was an eye opener. Wonder if that saying came from the"olden times"




That is amazing information and sort of really obvious when you think about it and are told it but you just dont think about it!!!!

thanks for putting this up I am gonna show my daughter this who has a history exam next week, I'm always on at her to imagine the history as it would happen to REAL people, and this blog does that very well. Well done , it must have taken you a long time to find this and get i typed out. Brilliant stuff. Axx


nice one john .. here is one for you ? " freeze the balls of a brass monkey " .. another very common saying.. we all no it means its cold ,,,, but it makes no sense .. or does it ????


Thanks john,that was really interesting,love to hear about how these sayings came to be.x


freeze the balls of a brass monkey andy easy one this andy

on the old sailing ships the cannon balls where stored in a triangle and stacked on top of one another

now these stacks where called MONKEYS when it was realy cold people woulds say freeze the balls of a brass monkey

but technicaly speaking with my nuclear head on

The coefficient expansion of brass is 0.000019 If the base of the stack were one metre long, the drop in temperature would i dont think be enought in cold weather to expand the balls to fall (so it dont make sence to me )give that this would be at 100 degrees Celsius

glad you all liked it though


Thanks for this. Have taken the liberty of forwarding it on to my dd as a bit of light relief from her heavy going reading for her History masters.


Very cool information. I hadn't heard the last one ever but the rest was very interesting, thanks for sending it. Now for a situation where I can enlighten others...Oh, our Singles get-together this Saturday night.



this is not a good one tinwoman it was in the Sir Walter Scott’s text in the , The Antiquary

and the other theory i like

in the old days when you sat turning the meat on the fire if it was someone you didnt like you cut of the meat from the side not facing the fire. (the cold part)



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