Money for Old Rope is essentially a ‘best of’ collection of best-selling books that reveal the origins and history of just about everything we can think of. In fact, as one wise man suggested, it is the history of everything you didn’t realise you wanted to know about, until you found out about it. A must have for dinner conversations and pub chat the world over, this book of history will help to make you feel clever.
To begin with we reveal the history of some of our favourite phrases and learn why we turn a blind eye, a cat has nine lives, who Jack Robinson was, why we toast each other with good health when we are about to poison ourselves with alcohol and how a square meal appeared on the menu. There are hundreds more tales from history that explain how the English language became so rich and expressive.
Then famous urban legends also get an airing including the creepy hooked hand on the car door story, the legendary phantom hitchhiker and what exactly were the Rolling Stones doing with that Mars Bar and poor old Marianne Faithful. All stories are hilariously explained along with many others. Then the world’s great mysteries are covered in ten minutes flat and the truth about D.B Cooper, the death of Marilyn Monroe and the real Loch Ness Monster, among others, are revealed. As are the true stories behind Humpty Dumpty, the Grand Old Duke of York and the Three Blind Mice. Many more of our childhood favourite rhymes are also exposed in all of their gory glory.
Then, of course, the fabulous stories of The Red Lion, Marquis of Granby, Garibaldi and the Blind Beggar are revealed and why they are remembered in that typically English fashion of naming a high street pub after them. Loads more of our favourite local boozers also have a tale to tell involving a historic person, or event.
Then we move into the food section and we find out who Margarita was, and why the world’s most famous pizza is named after her, what Benedict had to do with our breakfast eggs and how the Thousand Island’s holiday resort invented the world’s preferred seafood sauce. The great stars from the past have also influenced our favourite foods and we find out what Dame Nellie Melba had to do with peaches (or thin toast for that matter) and how bimbos take their place alongside the great diva between the pages of the dictionary.
Finally we turn to words and discover who Tom the Fool was and how the word tomfoolery became part of our culture. Same too for Blotto Freres and why a drink too many can make you act like his French invention. Who were the original pipsqueeks, those we think are doolally and why there might be something of a kerfuffle about using that particular word. In fact, Money for Old Rope reveals the delightful history of just about everything, from the Anoraks to the Zombies.
London – August 2012
Money For Old Rope – Is a simple one to explain. In days long gone, and when the tall ships returned to their ports, some sailors were allowed to delve into the hold and claim old rigging damaged during the voyage. Parts of it would still be in good condition and sought after by local traders, although no use to the ships needing long undamaged lines for their sails. Sailors profited by selling it on and, as there was no effort on their part required (regarded as a perk amongst senior shipmen), some jealousy occurred. The chosen few were obviously criticised for making money out of the old rope. These days Estate Agents have replaced favoured crewmen.
Other suggestions include the macabre practice of a hangman who would dispatch his victim and then cut the rope into small pieces and sell them as souvenirs to the baying crowd. But, there is little historic evidence, if any at all, that an execution audience paid for a piece of rope. If it was true then there would surely be examples remaining to this day of famous executions such as Dick Turpin, William Wallace or Dr Crippen, and there aren’t any…!