17 Apr 2020

Secret Drawers

Q. In what type of antique am I most likely to find a hidden compartment (hopefully stuffed with long-forgotten treasures and expensive secrets?) A. Secret compartments were particularly popular in the 18th Century. Craftsmen employed great imagination and tricky mechanics to conceal hidden storage in valences, wardrobes, hollow dividers or

16 Apr 2020

Reading Lies

Q. Which books are people most likely to pretend they’ve read? . A. In a 2013 Telegraph study of 2,000 Brits, 62% of respondents admitted to telling others that they had read classic books they hadn’t so much as skimmed. 42% confessed to hunting down the film or TV version

15 Apr 2020

Spilling The Tea

Q. Why do people talk about ‘spilling the tea’ when they are gossiping or revealing hidden truths? . A. It’s an expression popularized by black drag culture, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary. The ‘T’ that was being spilled could also stand for ‘Truth’, as evidenced in an interview with The

14 Apr 2020

Words For Lockdown

Q. What are some unusual or forgotten words that might apply to our current lives under lockdown? . A. From Ben Schott’s Schottenfreude. German Words For The Human Condition. 2013 • Haarmonie Reassuring your hairdresser. • Kühlschrankblockade Staring at the refrigerator, hungry but unsure of what to eat. • Saukopfsülzensehnsucht

13 Apr 2020

Famous Hobbies

Q. Which hobbies inspired historical figures? . A. Sheltering at home, people are discovering past hobbies. Or realizing they don’t have hobbies and looking for something a little more interesting than laundry or cleaning to fill up their hours. Have you been surprised by the home hobby postings of some

11 Apr 2020

Signs To Keep Them Honest

Q. Is there anything you can do to inspire people to pay up when they’re not being monitored? . A. Well, you might start by painting some eyes in the vicinity. In one study, University of Newcastle researchers Melissa Bateson, Daniel Nettle and Gilbert Roberts kept their eyes on an

11 Apr 2020

Warding Off Evil

Q. What are some cross-cultural superstitions to scare off evil and where did they come from? . A. When my Jamaican Mum was about to enjoy a cocktail, she’d take a moment to fling a few drops up in the air: “For the good spirits!”  Old school Jamaicans know to

11 Apr 2020

Unpleasant Sounds

Q. Which sounds do people hate the most? . A. We all have our personal pet peeves (Ugh to scraping, squishing styrofoam), but researchers have looked in brain-searing depth at the sounds that cause the most universal discomfort. In a Journal of Neuroscience study, researchers Sukhbinder Kumar, Katharina von Kriegstein,

11 Apr 2020

Worst First Dinner Date Food

Q. What is the worst food to eat on a first dinner date? . A. From personal experience, I would advise all to stay well clear of French Onion Soup. A Food Network UK poll of 2000 Brits offers other precautions for that go/no go first stab at romance. Worst

11 Apr 2020

That Horrid Saying

Q. Why do people use the expression ‘drinking the Koolaid’ to describe those who seem to believe whatever they are being pitched? . A. This is one of my least favourite sayings given its devastating origins. ‘Drink the Koolaid’ comes from the 1978 Jonestown tragedy where Jim Jones, the psychopathic cult