19/xii mmxii


Salmon skin is tougher than cow hide and has a natural elasticity which allows it to spring back into shape, hence its use in the fashion industry as cuir de mer or ‘sea leather’.

Top hats have been fashionable for almost 200 years, but when the first one was worn in 1797 by James Heatherington, he was immediately arrested and fined 50 pounds for behaving in a manner ‘calculated to frighten timid people’.

Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925)

Alexandra of Denmark, Princess of Wales, wife of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom

In 1778, the Royal Family and all of fashionable society went to the christening of 3rd Duke of Chandos’s daughter. But, under the glare of the lights and the weight of the lavishly embroidered christening robe, the child went into convulsions and died the next day. 11 years later, the Duke himself died when his wife accidentally pulled his chair out from under him as he went to sit down.

In the 1860s, Alexandra, Princess of Wales, developed a very slight limp as the result of a minor accident. This was imitated in sycophantic fashion by various ladies of the court, and was known as the Alexandra limp.

In the 18th century, fashion-conscious women plucked their eyebrows and glued on strips of mouse-skin instead.

23/ix mmxii


Pomology is the study of edible fruit. Carpology is the study of fruit whether they are edible or not.

Common culinary fruits.

Common fruit

Tomatoes, as everyone knows, are fruits not vegetables. Fewer people know that avocadoes, pumpkins, coconuts, cucumbers, peas, beans (green as well as all other beans), peppers, corn, aubergines, squash and all kinds of nuts are also fruits.

The frilled shark holds the world record for the longest pregnancy in nature: three years.

One of the exhibits at the Great Exhibition of 1851 was a vacuum coffin that preserved the body long enough for far-flung friends to attend the funeral.

For some unknown reason, people nearly always cut apples in half vertically. If you cut one in half horizontally, the core makes the shape of a perfect five- pointed star.

Androgyny


Androgyny is a term referring to the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. This may be as in fashion, sexual identity, or sexual lifestyle, or it may refer to biologically inter-sexed physicality, especially with regards to plant and human sexuality.

18thcenturylesbian

An 18th century image of lesbianism

For humans, an androgyne in terms of gender identity, is a person who does not fit cleanly into the typical masculine and feminine gender roles of their society. They may also use the term ambigender to describe themselves. Many androgynes identify as being mentally ‘between’ woman and man, or as entirely genderless.

  • The androgynous person is simply a female or male who has a high degree of both feminine (expressive) and masculine (instrumental) traits.
  • A feminine individual is high on feminine (expressive) traits and low on masculine (instrumental) traits.
  • A masculine individual is high on instrumental traits and low on expressive traits.
  • An undifferentiated person is low on both feminine and masculine traits.

Lesbians who do not define themselves as butch or femme may identify with various other labels including androgynous or andro for short. A few other examples include lipstick lesbian, tomboy, and tom suay which is Thai for ‘beautiful butch’.

An androgyne may be attracted to people of any sex or gender, though many identify as pansexual or asexual. Terms such as bisexual, heterosexual, and homosexual have less meaning for androgynes who do not identify as men or women to begin with. Infrequently the words gynephilia and androphilia are used, which refer to the gender of the person someone is attracted to, and do not imply any particular gender on the part of the person who is feeling the attraction.

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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24/iv mmxii


The Dik-dik is a miniature antelope that can go months without water but dies after a week without salt.

Blue Whale

Balaenoptera Musculus or Blue Whale

Until the 14th of May 2002 Lithuanian women had to undergo a gynaecological examination as well as a regular driving test in order to acquire a driving licence.

The French philosopher Descartes believed that all humans could live as long as the Biblical patriarchs and that he was on the very brink of discovering a way that would make man live as long again when he died aged 54.

Anthophobia is the fear of flowers.

If you imagine a set of weighing scales and you place an average-sized blue whale on one side of the weighing scales and you have to pile lots of other things on the other side to balance the scales, you would have to use all of the following as counter-weight: half a dozen African elephants, a black rhino, a couple of whale sharks, five Tyrannosaurus Rex, one-hundred world-class Sumo wrestlers, the entire football team of Norwich City and an average-size family van.

Buttons And History


The buttons on the sleeves of men’s jackets serve no real purpose today. But there are many stories explaining how they came to be there.

Sleeve Buttons

One story involves Frederick the Great, who was King of Prussia in the 1700s. Frederick’s armies were involved in a great many wars, and he was often on the field of battle with his troops. One of his concerns, so the story goes, was the appearance of his men.

One day, as he went about inspecting his soldiers, he became quite upset at the dirty sleeves of their uniforms. When he asked why the sleeves were dirtier than the rest of the uniforms, he was told that the soldiers wiped the sweat from their faces on their sleeves.

Frederick refused to have this habit continue, so to stop it, he ordered metal buttons sewn on the top side of all soldiers’ sleeves. That way, if the men wiped their faces, using their sleeves as a towel, they would get badly scratched.

Eventually these buttons were put on civilians’ jackets as well, but only as decoration.

Suit jackets in all styles typically have three or four buttons on each cuff, which are often purely decorative. The number of buttons is primarily a function of the formality of the suit; a very casual summer sports jacket might traditionally – in the 1930s – have had only one button, while tweed suits typically have three and city suits four. In the 1970s, two buttons were seen on some city suits. Today, four buttons are common on most business suits and even casual suits.

Although the sleeve buttons usually cannot be undone, the stitching is such that it appears they could. Functional cuff buttons may be found on high-end or bespoke suits; this feature is called a surgeon’s cuff. Some wearers leave these buttons undone to reveal that they can afford a bespoke suit, although it is proper to leave these buttons done up. Modern bespoke styles and high end off-the-rack suits equipped with surgeon’s cuffs have the last two buttons stitched off-centre, so that the sleeve hangs more cleanly should the buttons ever be undone.

A cuffed sleeve has an extra length of fabric folded back over the arm, or just some piping or stitching above the buttons to allude to the edge of a cuff. This was popular in the Edwardian era, as a feature of formal-wear such as frock coats carried over to informal-wear, but is now rare.

On the number of buttons:

– Five buttons (or more). Very rare and often considered as too flamboyant.

– Four sleeve buttons are most common on any style of jacket. Considered proper and slightly more formal than three.

– Three sleeve buttons are second most common, mostly seen on single breasted and dinner jackets, or very casual and informal jackets.

– Two sleeve buttons are quite rare and one will probably only ever see them on bespoke garments.

– A single sleeve button will only ever be seen on proper dinner jackets. However, most tailors will opt for the more common four or three buttons.

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