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

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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.

Continue reading

The Winner Of Stephen King’s Short Story Competition Is Announced… and it’s brilliant!

Stephen King Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

 

The Guardian newspaper recently ran a short story competition, which unfortunately I didn’t enter due to Open University study commitments, and the judge was none other than the master of horror himself, Stephen King.

The Guardian website wrote…

“The short story is alive and well in the UK according to novelist Stephen King, who this week picked the winner of a competition launched to celebrate his own latest collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

More than 800 creepy tales were submitted to the contest, run by the Guardian and King’s UK publisher, Hodder & Stoughton. King, who chose the winner from a shortlist of six, said: “I never expected such quality, and it does my heart good. Every one of these stories would be publishable.”

The bestselling novelist picked Elodie Harper’s Wild Swimming – a sinister tale set around a reservoir in Lithuania – as the winner, describing it as “part of a small but interesting genre: the 21st‑century epistolary tale.” Harper, 34, is a reporter for ITV News Anglia.”

You can read the winning story here:                               http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/30/stephen-king-short-story-competition-winner-wild-swimming-by-elodie-harper?CMP=twt_gu

The full article can be found here:  http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/jan/30/stephen-king-picks-winner-short-story-contest

Congratulations to Elodie Harper and all those talented writers who were long-listed. The writing talent in this country is truly amazing 🙂