Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Little Enlightenment For You and Me.....

I have always loved to read. I love reading, especially when it rains and the weather is cooler. There is something so "magical and romantic" when one is reading, accompanied by the pitter-patter of the rain in the comfort of home sweet home.

I remember I came across the expression, "raining cats and dogs" when I was in Primary Six. Immediately I looked up almost expecting to see cats and dogs coming
down from the sky. Of course, it was only the heavy downpour of water. The following day, I asked my teacher, why people say, "raining cats and dogs". My teacher could not explain. I guessed then that because of the heavy flood, some cats and dogs could have drowned and that was why people say, "raining cats and dogs", but then, why not say, "raining elephants and buffaloes".? I guessed elephants and buffaloes are so big that they would not get drowned anyway, and dogs and cats, being smaller, could not run fast enough from the torrential floods.

Hence I had a pleasant surprise when I discovered the real meaning of "raining cats and dogs" when I received the following article from my ex-English lecturer, Dr. Clive S. After 43 years, I have finally been enlightened! Hence I am sharing the
article with my readers so that they too can be enlightened.

I am so grateful for computers! Everyday is a learning experience! Through the forwarded emails of my wonderful relatives, friends, associates and clients, I am learning new things everyday!

"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 hanged.The horse drawn dray, carting the
prisoner, was accompanied by unarmed 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 prisoner was “ON THE WAGON”.

So there you go. More bleeding history.

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all
pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery..
If you had to do this to survive you were, "Piss Poor", but worse
than that, were the really poor folk, who could not even afford to buy
a pot, they "Didn’t have a pot to Piss in" & were the lowest of the

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 1500’s:
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 other sons and men, 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 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 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 you?)

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 onto the food, causing lead
poisoning & 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 guests got the
top, or ''The Upper Crust''.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination, would
sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. 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 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 grave. When reopening these
coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the
inside and they realized 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 ! ! !"

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