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Eskimos use refrigerators to stop their food from freezing.

Boots fitted with springs were forbidden by the original Queensberry Rules for boxing.

In 2014, a single parking space in London was sold for £400,000.

There is a Canadian skeleton racer called Dave Greszczyszyn.

Paris and Rome have only each other as sister city, following the motto “Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris.”

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A best-selling 15th century work of fiction was The Tale of the Two Lovers, an erotic novel by the man who later became Pope Pius II.

In 1967, Picoaz, Ecuador, elected a brand of foot deodorant as the town’s mayor.

The word ‘fun’ does not appear in the King James Bible.

At least 109 journeys between adjacent London Underground stations are quicker to walk.

Apostasy, the abandonment of religion, is a capital offence in Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

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Michael Sata, the president of Zambia, previously worked as a cleaner at London Victoria railway station.

The longest duck penis ever found was 17 inches (43 centimetres) in length.

Under extreme high pressure, diamonds can be made from peanut butter.

The film Grease was released in Mexico under the name ‘Vaselina’.

In the autumn of 1940, students at Oslo University started wearing paperclips on their lapels as a non-violent symbol of resistance, unity, and national pride. When the occupying German forces caught on to the fact, wearing a paperclip promptly became a criminal offence.

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The Knowledge

Pay a visit to London and a black mini cab will probably be one the the first things you will see. The London taxi drivers are almost as famous as the black cabs in which they drive, this is mainly due to their in-depth knowledge of London and ability in taking their occupants to their desired destination amid the congestion and the chaos that you often find when travelling through London’s streets.

London taxi drivers go through stringent training to obtain their licence, they need to pass The Knowledge, a test which is amongst the hardest to pass in the world, it has been described as like having an atlas of London implanted into the brain.

It was initiated in 1865, and has changed little since. It is claimed that the training involved ensures that London taxi drivers are experts on London, and have an intimate knowledge of the city.

It takes the average person between 2 and 4 years to learn the knowledge. An effort that requires you to memorise every possible route through the city as well as memorising landmarks and points of interest, museums, parks, police stations, churches, theatres and schools and not just the famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Nelsons Column.

To become an All-London taxi driver or Green badge holder you need to master no fewer than 320 basic routes, all of the 25,000 streets that are scattered within the basic routes and approximately 20,000 landmarks and places of public interest that are located within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross.

The hardest of all taxi driver tests in the world is how many have described The London Knowledge a reputation which very few would argue with.

What Should Ladies Wear?

‘Ladies wear dresses, costumes, or blouses and (long or short) skirts, with sleeves (tight or puffed) and trimmings, jackets and hats (with brims, felt or straw hats) trimmed with ribbons, tulle, feathers, or artificial flowers. Bonnets have no brims, and are only worn by old ladies or young children. Sometimes, ladies also wear a veil to protect their complexion against the keen air. At balls they have elegant robes, and flowers in their hair. They never go out without (a pair of) gloves (kid gloves, suède gloves, silk gloves) and an elegant hand-bag. At home (or in the house), they sometimes wear a nice apron. In winter they put on a warm mantle or cloak, a fur (a cape, a stole, a boa), a muff, and a fur cap.’

– Kron. R. 1920. The Little Londoner Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany: J. Bielefelds Verlag (1921) p. 58-59

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A shibboleth is any distinguishing practice that is indicative of one’s social or regional origin. It usually refers to features of language, and particularly to a word whose pronunciation identifies its speaker as being a member or not a member of a particular group.

The term originates from the Hebrew word shibbóleth, which literally means the part of a plant containing grains, such as an ear of corn or a stalk of grain or, in different contexts, stream, torrent. The modern usage derives from an account in the Hebrew Bible, in which pronunciation of this word was used to distinguish Ephraimites, whose dialect lacked a /ʃ/ phoneme (as in shoe), from Gileadites whose dialect did include such a phoneme.

After the inhabitants of Gilead inflicted a military defeat upon the tribe of Ephraim around 1370–1070 BC, the surviving Ephraimites tried to cross the Jordan River back into their home territory and the Gileadites secured the river’s fords to stop them. In order to identify and kill these refugees, the Gileadites put each refugee to a simple test as we can read in chapter 12 of the Book of Judges:

5 And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;

6 Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand

Since then, many shibboleths have been used for military purposes:

Fourteen Year Old Richard II Meets the Revolting Peasants

“And many fflemmynges loste hir heedes at that tyme and namely they that koude nat say Breede and Chese, but Case and Brode.” The Peasants’ Revolt of AD 1381 also known as the Tyler’s Rebellion, or the Great Rising, was used by the merchants of London in an attempt to get a competitive edge in the trade with the Low Countries by reducing the number of competitors. A massacre among the Flemings in London – not just the Flemish merchants – ensued.

– “Schild en vriend” On 18 May 1302, the people of Bruges killed the French occupiers of the city during a nocturnal surprise attack. According to a famous legend, they stormed into the houses where they knew the tenants were forced to board and lodge French troops serving as city guards, roused every male person from his bed and forced them to repeat the challenge ‘schild en vriend’ (meaning: shield and friend). The Flemings pronounced ‘schild’ with a separate ‘s’ /s/ and ‘ch’ /x/ as in ‘Scheveningen’. Flemings would pronounce ‘vriend’ with a voiced v and a rolling r whereas French would render those as a voiceless /f/ and a fricative or approximant uvular /r/.Every Frenchman who failed the test was stabbed on the spot, still in his nightgown. Because the signal for the uprising was the matins bells of the city’s churches and monasteries, this became known as the Bruges Matins or ‘Brugse Metten’ in Dutch. Which became the name of the massacre.

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Queen Victoria smoked when in Scotland to keep midges away during picnics.

Queen Victoria of Briton

Queen Victoria of Great Britain

The creator of the London Eye shares the same birthday as Gustave Eiffel.

The Toyota MR2 is an embarrassing name in France, because “MR2” sounds similar to Emmerdeux, the French for Shit. Similarly, the Ford Pinto is embarrassing in Brazil, because Pinto is slang for Tiny male genitals.

Brendan Behan was asked to write an advertising slogan for Guinness. He wrote, “Guinness makes you drunk.”

The ancient Greeks believed that otters killed crocodiles by running into their open mouths, eating their entrails, and running out again.

The Berners Street Hoax

54 Berners Street, London. This is the location of one of the world’s most famous hoaxes.

The Berners Street Hoax was a famous hoax perpetrated by writer and humorist Theodore Hook here in 1810. Hook had bet his friend Samuel Beazley a guinea that he could transform any house in London into the most talked-about address in a week.

On November 10 at nine o’clock in the morning, Mrs. Tottenham, the occupant of this house began receiving a large number of deliveries and visitors. Various trades people arrived claiming that they had been summoned to her house by letter. Dignitaries, including the Governor of the Bank of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Mayor of London also arrived. So many people crowded into the narrow street that fights broke out.

Hook had sent out thousands of letters purporting to be Mrs. Tottenham and requesting deliveries, visitors and assistance. He was soon revealed as the instigator of the prank.

Theodore Hook, the forgotten genius of the English language. He founded, and wrote anonymously, the brilliantly satirical John Bull newspaper which directly influenced British history. Hook created the style of political satire which has lasted to the present.

He was the only ‘improvisatore’ whom the English language has known, instantly composing witty songs on any subject. He was England’s best-selling novelist immediately before Charles Dickens.

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