Murderous Phrases

Sometimes writing can be the ‘bane of my life’ as I struggle with motivation, procrastination and any other barriers that life throws at me. Recently, whilst procrastinating, er I mean, ‘researching,’ I came across the origins of a well know phrase which shocked me so much that I felt the need to write something about it.

DC Comic’s supervillain ‘Bane’ – was the character’s name chosen because it means murderer?
Source: http://movieweb.com/tom-hardy-bane-fight-batman-superman/

We all probably use a turn of phrase, colloquial saying or some other weird idiomatic expression at least once per day but where do such expressions originate and what do they actually mean? Has the original meaning of these sayings changed over time? If we look at the example in my opening line we often think of ‘bane’ as being some kind of trouble, affliction or ruin but the saying isn’t used as frequently as it used to be. The first recorded use of the word goes back to the Old English Chronicles (circa 1000) in which bane actually meant ‘murderer’ and literally means ‘that which causes death’, such as with a deadly poison. It is commonly used in combination, as in the names of poisonous plants such as Ratsbane (rat poison/arsenic), Henbane and Wolfsbane.

Even simple well-known phrases such as ‘OK’ (Okay) may have a distant relationship with murder. This phrase has evolved from many (often disputed) suggested derivations and one of those originates from the First World War, whereby nightly reports from the frontline filed on a good day would report that there were no fatalities or ‘0 Killed’ or simply abbreviated to zero K and written as ‘0K.’ Although this proposed etymology is disputed.

For those of you who like the occasional flutter, gamble or bet you have probably heard of the phrase ‘third time lucky,’ which seems to suggest that you should not quit after two failed attempts at something. It is quite often spoken aloud as a verbal good luck charm just before trying that fateful third attempt, but where did this phrase originate and how could it relate to death? Well there is a belief, in English Law, that a judicial court would set any person who managed to survive three failed attempts at being hung free.

John Henry George Lee (b.1864)

This belief could well relate to John Henry George Lee (born 1864) who later became known notoriously as John ‘Babbacombe’ Lee. Lee, who was born in Devon, England and served in the Royal Navy, was a thief who was convicted of the brutal murder of his employer Emma Keyse at Babbacombe Bay near Torquay in 1885.

Emma was killed with a knife on 15th November 1884. Lee was the only male at the house at the time of the murder and had a previous criminal record and, not to mention, an unexplained cut on his arm, so Lee was arrested. Despite the weak circumstantial evidence against him and his desperate pleas of not guilty Lee was sentenced to death by hanging. Continue reading

Fridge Wars

As with most people in the UK when it comes to that summer BBQ, party with the friends or an afternoon watching the rugby or football we have to stock up on bottled or canned beers.

This can be an absolute nightmare in itself as you fight with the other half for fridge space – bottles and cans jammed between salad items, fresh meats and sauces until you actually fear opening the fridge in case it all comes crashing onto the floor. For many of us that has happened far too many times and has forced us to resort to cooler boxes/bags jammed with ice blocks or old builders buckets full of iced water with lager bottles bobbing upside down.

Since purchasing a shiny motorhome (or MOHO as they’re lovingly called amongst owners) this dilemma has moved to the van and happens every time we head out for the weekend. As you can imagine the fridge found in motorhomes and camper vans is much smaller than those found in the home  (unless of course you own an American RV) so the agony of getting that cold beer or lager whilst sat outside the van on a glorious summer (or winter’s) day is twofold.

Leffe Blonde Awesome Belgian Beer

Our drinking pleasure is Leffe blonde, which is a stunning Belgium beer, and I was first introduced to it in a bar near a Belgium Air Base when I was on detachment with the RAF. I loved it so much I took the Leffe glass home with me (don’t tell them) and it’s still intact even after over 15 years of use. We’re not what you’d call raving alcoholics mind you but even just 4 or 5 Leffe 33cl bottles each per evening, over a two night stay, means that the small van fridge is crammed and always vomits some item onto the floor each time we open it…and yes, we have to use a cooler bag too!

Why am I babbling on about this you ask? Well it’s because my problems have now been solved. Hurrah!

About a month ago an advert from Beer Hawk popped into my Facebook feed which changed everything and I have now turned my kitchen AND my van kitchenette into a bar. How? Well it is all thanks to Philips and their ‘PerfectDraft’ machine, which allows you to pour a perfect glass of beer from a keg in the comfort of your own home – in your shed, garage, living room, kitchen, motorhome, campervan or even in a wobblebox, er, I mean, caravan, if you have electric hook-up or a genny that is.

PerfectDraft machine just out of the box from ‘Beer Hawk’

So, what exactly is a PerfectDraft (PD) machine and why would you want one?

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Retro Procrastination

Six chapters into the second draft of my novel and I’m doubting my story’s setting so much that my writing has come to an abrupt halt. Not writer’s block exactly, just a mild panic as to my next move.

Do I continue with the current setting and edit everything at the end with a possible 90K+ words to fiddle with or stop and change it now before I go to far?

As I couldn’t decide what to do next I thought I’d go and clean my writing/retro games room instead. The missus has been nagging me to dust for ages as she cleaned the room last time (all the Dr Who stuff is hers) so, sadly, it was now my turn to do it. As the cliche goes, ‘there’s no time like the present’ so I attacked it head-on for over three hours today and boy did it need dusting!

This room has taken several years to complete and several more again to collect all the games, consoles and figurines that adorn the walls and cupboards. We’re still collecting but, as you can see, we’re drastically running out of space to display things properly without piling them on top of each other.

Sarah Andersen’s scribble explains perfectly how we both managed to accumulate such a lovely collection of Retro games:

How I Spend My Money ©sarah andersen
How I Spend My Money
©sarah andersen

So here’s a few pictures of our lovely, neat and tidy (and dust free) writing/games room:

dsc_0001

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Sweet Memories

Sweet Shop

The recent ‘shocking’ Toblerone re-sizing scandal (See the NY Times article here) has sparked outrage amongst chocolate fans and has undoubtedly encouraged those people whom constantly whinge at the shrinking size of Christmas chocolate tins to be outraged. When we were kids everything seemed massive and it is natural for things to look much smaller when you’re now at least four foot taller (and wider if you’ve been constantly bingeing on those chocolates) but you cannot ignore the evidence provided. Whether it’s the uncertainty that Brexit or a new US President brings to financial markets and businesses they cannot hide the fact that chocolate and sweets aren’t what they used to be “in the good old days.”qualitystreet_size_change

Trebor Sweets
Trebor Sweets

Incidents such as the Toblerone scandal make me look back at what kids from my era (70s to 80s) loved to eat and drink. Personally I was never a lover of sweets as I think my low-level OCD didn’t like the mess and stickiness, which resulted from stuffing your face with a ‘10p mix’ of sweets in a scrunched-up, grubby paper bag. rowntrees_jelly_totsThere were never any napkins handed out or pocket-hankies in those days so sticky mouths and fingers were wiped on sleeves or cuffs already soiled with dirt and snots (often with that unmistakeable snail trail cascading upwards from your wrist gaining you a clip around the ear when your Dad saw it.) Sweets that weren’t too messy, such as Barratt’s Sherbet Fountain, were the ones that I tended to go for but even then I was still weird with them. img_3928I never liked the Liquorice stick so I’d dip it into the sherbet to help loosen it up and pour the sherbet into my gob until the sherbet was all gone. The Liquorice stick would either be offered to my brother or a friend (un-licked of course, I wasn’t that mean) or simply binned – something I hated doing as I was, and still am, against wasting food. Continue reading

Killer Research

Eyes swollen and encrusted with dried blood slowly flicker open; blurred images eventually coming into focus as the sticky clotted eyelashes blink into life.

‘Good, you’re awake again,’ Henry Bletchley-Ward said as he placed the Olympus digital voice recorder on the table and slid the long kitchen knife out of the wooden block. It hardly made a sound and his saggy jowls flapped as he shook his head and sighed. No sword-like metal sound as it was in the films. He yanked his notebook and pen from his back pocket and scribbled down some notes.

Henry crossed the room and waved the knife in the salesman’s face like a child swinging a foil sword and scrutinised every reaction before scribbling away once more. The blood-splattered laminate pinned to his chest read, ‘Clive Hedges. EDF Energy’ yet gagged and taped to Henry’s kitchen chair, face swollen, bruised and bloodied, he didn’t look like a Clive. Henry liked that, it made his character more believable. He adjusted the video camera’s tripod and zoomed in on Clive’s face. ‘01/12/1999 00:00’ flashed repeatedly across the screen and Henry cursed. He set the time and date and pressed record.

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The demise of ‘Jumpman’ leads to the meteoric rise of ‘MAR10’ – Happy #NationalMarioDay

MAR10 – #NationalMarioDay

Today marks the celebration of one of the gaming world’s most iconic legends, MARIO the Italian Plumber.

It's a me... Mario!
It’s a me… Mario!

March the 10th was chosen as the best day to celebrate this legend, as some of you may have already guessed, because of the fact that the abbreviated date, Mar 10, looks like the name Mario.

Personally I have always loved all things Nintendo ever since I first played Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and my fascination with the loveable plumber has continued ever since, although he wasn’t always a plumber and originally he wasn’t called Mario, either.

Nintendo Playing Card Company
Nintendo Playing Card Company

Nintendo, a playing card company founded in 1889, moved into the arcade video game arena in 1975 and sought to increase their share of the American market with the launch of the arcade game Radar Scope in 1980. However, although initial market feedback on the arcade cabinets was encouraging, things didn’t go as expected. Due to the logistical error in building the cabinets in Japan, rather than in the US, delays and higher prices due to shipping costs resulted in Radar Scope almost crippling the company. Rivals such as Taito, Namco and SEGA in Japan and Atari, Midway and Williams in the US were cornering the market with their successful and cheaper games. The introduction of horizontal scrolling in Defender (Williams, 1980) aged all other vertical ‘space shooter’ games overnight and for Nintendo of America, a fledgling company with very little clout in the gaming market at the time, it was disastrous.

Radar ScopeNintendo had to ‘send another game to replace the motherboards in each of the 2,000 unsold [Radar Scope] cabinets; that way, they would only have to be redecorated with the colours of the new title’ (Audureau, W., 2014). This saw the start of Nintendo’s ‘Popeye Project’ as the replacement game, designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, was originally based around the characters, Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto (as the brute dispatching the barrels at the hapless sailor). Nintendo hoped this new game would tie into the popularity of Popeye after the 1980 release of the film starring the late, great Robin Williams. Unfortunately, due to Nintendo failing to secure the rights to use the Popeye characters, Miyamoto and the team had to re-think the game and design it using their own unique characters. Continue reading

Surviving School

Apart from messing about with Bunsen burners, what else did you play around with at school to annoy your classmates or, if you were brave, the teacher?

Bunsen Burner
Bunsen Burner

Me? Well, I went through comprehensive school in Wales during the 80s, and there was that annoying green slime putty (which you could set ‘time delay’ charges on the ceiling and wait for them to lose their grip and splat onto someone’s head during the lesson), spud guns (if you could nick the potatoes without annoying your Mam too much), IMG_3693cap guns and cap rockets (into which you’d try and squeeze as many caps as possible in order to get the loudest possible ‘explosion’ when you threw it, although probably not in the confines of the classroom!), wet paper balls fired from out of Bic pen cases or pencil toppers launched at people’s heads.

Pencil Toppers
Pencil Toppers

The odd stink bomb strategically placed under the teachers desk or chair leg was guaranteed to clear the classroom and undoubtedly get you detention and/or lines. Whoopee cushions and fart spray, from the joke shop in Porthcawl, were also good for a few laughs but they’d get confiscated if you were caught, and that was just a waste of your pocket money. Continue reading