roaring drunk

I spent an interesting morning on a private visit to Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire, where I found the beast in the photo.

white plaster lion

The young lady who showed us around told us that the word “plastered”, meaning “drunk”, derives from the habit of adding white wine to plaster to keep it malleable: the artisans who worked with the mix were exposed to the alcoholic fumes all day. What’s more, she said, they were allowed to keep and drink the wine that remained unused at the end of the day.

I’m really not convinced that a drunken artisan could produce the spectacular plasterwork of which the lordly lion was just a tiny motif. I note, though, that the decoration was in the room known as “the saloon”.


I’m not sure if this counts as a hairy situation:

bee and clematis tangutica seed head (old man's beard)
It’s clearly not the cat’s whiskers. But it might be the bee’s knees.

‘a tower to the sun’

castle and palm trees

castillos en el aire – ilusiones lisonjeras con poco o ningún fundamento

I wonder how many Spaniards realise that as well as building castles in the air, English speakers also build castles in Spain.

Perhaps more to the point, I wonder why we do.

Brewer tells me that

[…] air-castles were called by the French Châteaux d’Espagne because Spain has no châteaux.

I wonder who told him that yarn.
Continue reading “‘a tower to the sun’”

hoy por ti


The first time I heard the phrase Hoy por ti; mañana por mí I was amazed at the no-nonsense approach to helping others that it seemed to encapsulate.

The closest we seem to come to it in English is “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, though I don’t think that’s quite the same, as the English idiom implies a real one-to-one reciprocity.
Continue reading “hoy por ti”

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