By Gerry Moran
This week, dear readers, some tid-bits to savour over a skinny latté, a good old mug of tea or a pint of plain if that’s your preference:
Hitler had ambitions to be an artist but in 1908 he was rejected by Vienna’s Art School – twice; his marriage to Eva Braun lasted one day. They killed themselves as the Red Army advanced towards their bunker in Berlin.
* Eleven days after King Henry V111 had his wife, Anne Boleyn, beheaded (May 19, 1536) he married Jane Seymour.
* In the 1400s a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence the phrase ‘rule of thumb’.
* The largest ice-berg on record measured 200 miles by 60 miles and had a total area larger then Belgium.
* In 1920, Eugene Debbs was nominated for President of the United States by the Socialist Party while in prison for inciting rebellion and a breach of public order during World War 1. The only man to run for President from prison, he received nearly a million votes, 3.3% of the total.
* Absinthe was the LSD of the 19th Century. With a 70% alcohol content, and known as ‘Bottled Madness’, its hallucinogenic properties appealed to people who wanted to soar to new levels of creativity.
* Kangaroos received their name when Captain Cook’s crew asked the Australian aborigines what those strange creatures hopping about were. They answered “Kangaroo”, which means “What are you saying?”
* Cleopatra used crocodile dung as a contraceptive.
* The first couple to be shown in bed together on American prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
* The Chinese will go out of their way to include the lucky number 8 in their home and business addresses, telephone numbers, and web addresses. As an example of their devotion to the number 8, the Olympic Games, hosted in Beijing, commenced at exactly 8 minutes past 8 on the 8th day of the 8th month in 2008.
* Picasso died in bed, drawing – at the age of 91.
* The song ‘Delaney’s Donkey’ (made famous by Waterford man Val Doonican) was composed by Englishman William Hargreaves and was the best-selling sheet-music in Britain in 1965 at a time when the Beatles, and Elvis, were topping the charts. The sheet music sold in such great numbers because people wanted the words.
* “New York wasn’t everything I thought. The first year I was held up at gun point, raped on the roof of a building and had my apartment broken into three times” – Madonna on arriving in NYC as a 19-year-old in 1977. She achieved world fame in 1984 with ‘Like A Virgin’.
* Some 40,000 Americans, of all ages, die by the gun each year – RTE News, December, 2022.
* Men can read smaller print than women but women can hear better; women also blink nearly twice as much as men.
* The writer CS Lewis, born in Belfast in 1898, and author of The Chronicles Of Narnia (which sold more than 100 million copies) failed the Driving Test 17 times.
* In 2010, the animation movie, ‘The Secret Of Kells, produced by Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon, lost out on the animation Oscar to Pixar’s Up. Kells cost €6.3 million to make while Up had an estimated budget of $175 million!
* The actor Gary Cooper turned down the role of Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind proclaiming that “it will be the greatest flop in cinema history”.
* Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic drinking mugs. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. ‘Wet your whistle’ comes from this practice.
* Winston Churchill was born in a ladies’ room during a dance.
* In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase “Goodnight, sleep tight.”
* Always give a 100% in life – except when giving blood.
* Switzerland has the most stringent animal rights laws in the world including one protecting the dignity of goldfish!