Answers to Work Songs

"I'm an old cowhand"
...From the Rio Grande

"A thing of shreds and patches"
A Wand'ring Minstrel

"He works all night and he sleeps all day"
The Lumberjack Song

Ridin' out on a horse"
Rhinestone Cowboy

"From the rise of sun to the set of moon"
Cobbler's Song (Chu Chin Chow)

"Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night"
The Lincolnshire Poacher

"In my profession I work hard, but I'll never stop"
When I'm Cleaning Windows

"You can bet these don't grow on trees"
You Gotta Pick a Pocket or Two (Oliver)

"Trumpets are tearing my eardrums"
Ten Cents a Dance

"The quaint and curious costumes that we're called upon to wear"
It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier (Tom Lehrer)

"You give me some whiskey, I'll sing you a song"
Blow the Man Down

"Where a million diamonds shine"
We dig, dig, dig, dig... (Snow White)


Answers to Maiden Names

1 Marie CURIE
2 Barbara CASTLE
3 Margaret THATCHER
5 Clementine CHURCHILL
7 Isabella BEETON
8 Elizabeth GASKELL
9 Ivana TRUMP
10 Emmeline PANKHURST
11 Sarah PALIN
12 Beatrix POTTER
13 Agatha CHRISTIE
14 Lillie LANGTRY
15 Virginia WOOLF
16 Indira GANDHI
17 Golda MEIR (Myerson)
18 Mabel Lucie ATTWELL
19 Bessie BRADDOCK
20 Sylvia PLATH

Return to Other Men's Flowers

Answer to Quick question

January 1st can fall on any day out of the seven. A year is a Leap Year or it is not.

So you need to print only fourteen different calendars.


Each of the 100 people there must shake 99 hands. But if I shake your hand, this is one handshake, not two, so divide 9,900 by two. The answer is 4,950.

One might have thought that someone trained in mathematics or science would answer this easily by applying rigorous logic, while a student of the humanities might flounder. (Incidentally, C. P. Snow's Rede Lecture which started the Two Cultures controversy was given in Cambridge just half a century ago.) But it's not quite as simple as that.

A teacher of mathematics of my acquaintance (no names, she knows who she is) talked about factorials for a bit, then decided that it involved triangular numbers and gave up. Another acquaintance, equally intelligent, who had studied Latin and Greek, went off at a tangent and got it wrong.

My guess is that anyone with a bit of gumption can solve it easily unless he or she is side-tracked by a bit of irrelevant knowledge or excessive cleverness.

Now you can tell the person of integrity either to burn the envelope or to open it and admire your gumption.

Answer to Baker's Dozen

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, they were all "people who were noteworthy in the history of the British Isles", and they all died in 2005.

The names were arranged in order of birth year, from Christopher Fry (1907) to George Best (1946).


If you got it right, you could celebrate the lives of all these splendid* people by buying yourself a magnum (150cl) of the 2005 Ch. Lafite Rothschild (£1795 from Berry Bros and Rudd, est. 1698):

"Classic blackcurrant and plum bouquet, rich, ripe with well-integrated oak. Great density and intensity on palate, lovely harmony. Very full and long. The silky, incredibly concentrated and elegant brambly fruit is wonderfully fragrant with lovely minerality and hints of cedar. The super-ripe tannins are accompanied by layers of fruit alongside a freshness and firm acidity. This is like a sleeping giant with many of its glorious elements hiding from view, like hidden treasure. Even so it is utterly compelling, with each taste a PhD of Claret."

Then, when it is ready, after 2020 but before 2050, invite a friend or lover to come and drink it with you. You will enjoy it tremendously.

[*Actually, one of them is not particularly splendid]

Answers to Who Played the Part?

1 Joseph Cotton in Citizen Kane
2 Joseph Cotton in The Third Man
3 Peter Lorre in The Maltese Falcon
4 Groucho Marx in Duck Soup
5 Jean Servais in Rififi
6 Angela Baddeley in Upstairs, Downstairs
7 Burt Lancaster in Sweet Smell of Success
8 Robert Duvall in The Godfather
9 Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter
10 Kay Hammond in Blithe Spirit
11 Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity
12 William H Macy in Fargo
13 George C Scott in Dr Strangelove
14 John le Mesurier in Dad's Army
15 Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver
16 Erich von Stroheim in Sunset Boulevard
17 Katharine Ross in The Graduate
18 Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets
19 George Sanders in All About Eve
20 Theodore Bikel in My Fair Lady
21 Herbert Lom in El Cid
22 Pete Postlethwaite in The Usual Suspects
23 Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra
24 Humphrey Bogart in Treasure of the Sierra Madre
25 Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen

Answer to A Distinguished Bunch

They (and I) were all born in the same year.

So far, only my n&d has got the answer. This seems odd: anything common to all has to be noted in their biographies and if you look up any of them (except Goswell Frand's) it will be the very first thing you see.

It was also said to have been a vintage year for red Burgundy

At today's date, 13th October 2008, ten of them (eleven including me) are still more or less alive and five have died: Dean 1955, Richler 2001, Donegan 2002, Milosevic 2006, Yeltsin 2007.


Answers to More First Names

1 LaVerne Andrews (her sisters were Maxene and Patti).
2 Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock's brother)
3 Dinsdale Landen (actor)
4 Kofi Annan (UN Secretary-General, 1997-2006)
5 Jedediah Leland (Citizen Kane's friend, played by Joseph Cotton)
6 Maundy Gregory (political fixer famous for selling honours)
7 Dashiell Hammett (detective story writer)
8 Lambert Simnel (pretender to the throne of King Henry VII)
9 Perkin Warbeck (ditto)
10 Lorna Doone (heroine of 19th century novel by R D Blackmore)
11 Calvin Klein (fashion designer) or Coolidge (30th US President)
12 Woodrow Wilson US President 1913-1921
13 Ogden Nash (American humo(u)rist)
14 Sacheverell Sitwell (art critic and writer)
15 Sexton Blake (fictional detective)
16 Zane Grey (writer of cowboy stories)
17 Diego Maradona (Argentinian footballer)
18 Orlando Bloom (actor)
19 Emmeline Pankhurst (leader of women's suffrage movement)
20 Clement Attlee (post-war Labour prime minister)
21 Garth Brooks (country music singer)
22 Benito Mussolini (World War Two fascist dictator of Italy)
23 Jawaharlal Nehru (first prime minister of independent India)
24 Maximilien Robespierre (French revolutionary leader) (NOT Rebecca's husband, he spelt it with an a)
25 Mahalia Jackson (gospel singer)


Up to 4: You are less than five years old
5-16: You are of average erudition
17-24: You know a lot
25: You are probably a liar

Answers to First Names

1 Richmal Crompton (writer)
2 Rudyard Kipling (writer)
3 Keir Hardy (socialist and labour leader)
4 Dwight Eisenhower (WWII general and US President)
5 Willkie Collins (writer)
6 Denholm Elliot (actor)
7 Endeavour Morse (fictional detective)
8 Praise-God Barebone (17th-century preacher)
9 Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (writer)
10 Canaan Banana (Methodist minister, President of Zimbabwe)
11 Dodie
Smith (writer)
12 Molonay
Tubilderborst (another red-bearded dwarf)
13 Millard Fillmore (US President, 1850-53)
14 Plantagenet Palliser (fictional statesman)
15 Linus Pauling (scientist, Nobel Peace Prize winner)
16 Maya Angelou (poet, writer)
17 DeForest Kelley (actor)
18 Kublai Khan (Mongol ruler, grandson of Genghis Khan)
19 Django Reinhardt (guitarist)
20 Brigham Young (Mormon leader)
21 Aphra Behn (17th-century woman writer)
22 Branwell Brontë (Painter and poet with three sisters)
23 Orde Wingate (British WWII general)
24 Alma Cogan (singer)
25 Gerard Hoffnung (cartoonist and musical humorist)

Up to 4: You are less than five years old
5-24: You are of average erudition
25: You are probably a liar

...a medley, a mélange, an assortment, a collection, a compendium, a digest, an assemblage, a compilation, a gathering, a miscellany, a mustering, an anthology, a farrago, a ragbag, a hodgepodge or a gallimaufry...

...trivialities, pastiches, parodies, anecdotes, bons mots, spoofs, trouvailles, plagiarisms,
causeries, reviews, pensées, abstracts, recollections, aperçus, short essays and quotations...


It is updated five or six times a month.
On January 1st 2012 it contained 374,768 words in
 1,213 posts, with 1,852 comments, 598 pictures and 1290 links

Some posts are serious, some are not: caveat lector

HERE is what has been said about it.

Other Men's Flowers are gathered by Tony, who also creates and maintains other websites
 d.o.b: 3rd March in the year that Elgar conducted Land of Hope and Glory at the Abbey Road Studios
 1932: Cruelly mocked by older sisters
1938: Runner-up, Lucy Beamish Prize for Good Behaviour in Class
1940-48: Whitgift School
1948: Barman, The Mitre, Tooting
1949-51: University College London, BSc Eng (failed, twice)
1951-53: National Service in Fayid and Ismailia
1953-60: Export Manager, E C De Witt and Co Ltd.

Also in the fifties: Co-founder of Contem Studios, silkscreen printers
1960-1974: Overseas Marketing Director, Dylon International Ltd.

Also in the sixties: part-time hack with a provincial newspaper group
1976-93: Secretary-General, The International Table Tennis Federation
1985-2001: Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer or consultant to a dozen charities (unpaid)
[Since then, dilettante
cloudwatcher and website designer]
Lives on the south coast of England
Married, twice. Three children, two grandchildren.

 Below: the children in 1970 (they are older now).

Opinions expressed in Other Men's Flowers may or may not be those of the author and may or may not

 also represent the opinion of any individual or institution, and conversely, as the case may be.

Answers to Next Lines of Poems

1 A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune
The shooting of Dan McGrew (Robert W Service)

2 Weave a circle round him thrice, and close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise.
Kubla Khan (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

3 Was none who would be foremost to lead such dire attack?
But those behind cried ‘Forward!’, and those before cried ‘Back!’
Horatius at the Bridge (Thomas Babington Macaulay)

4 All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell
Sonnet CXXIX (Shakespeare)

5 But as it is! . . . My language fails!
Go out and govern New South Wales!
Lord Lundy (Hilaire Belloc)

6 "Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know
Ode on a Grecian Urn (John Keats)

7 Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (Thomas Gray)

8 And thou, what needest with thy tribe’s black tents
Who hast the red pavilion of my heart?
Arab Love Song (Francis Thompson)

9 There was a young girl from Aberystwyth
Took grain to the mill to make grist with

10 One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
Death, Be Not Proud (John Donne)

11 They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
This Be the Verse (Philip Larkin)

12 I've a lover in the prison, doomed this very night to die
At the ringing of the curfew, and no earthly help is nigh
Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight (Rose Hartwick Thorpe)

13 Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place
How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix (Robert Browning)

14 And the sweat is on thy brow, for he passes even now
He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear!
The Song of the Little Hunter (Rudyard Kipling)

15 For the stronger we our houses do build
The less chance we have of being killed
The Tay Bridge Disaster (William McGonagall)

16 We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I'm engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn
A Subaltern’s Love Song (John Betjeman)

17 In the blithe and pleasant Spring-time
In the Moon of Leaves he built it
Hiawatha (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

18 Il n'y a beste ne oyseau, qu'en son jargon ne chante ou crie
Le temps a laissié son manteau de vent, de froidure et de pluye
Rondel (Charles d’Orleans)

19 Did He smile His work to see?
Did who made the lamb make thee?
The Tiger (William Blake)

20 I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Edward Fitzgerald)

21 He took castles and towns; he cut short limbs and lives
He made orphans and widows of children and wives:
The Pool of the Diving Friar, from Crotchet Castle (Thomas Love Peacock)

22 There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar
Lochinvar, from Marmion (Walter Scott)

23 ‘Tis paid with sighs a plenty and sold for endless rue
And I am two-and-twenty, and oh, ‘tis true, ‘tis true
When I was one-and-twenty (A E Housman)

24 For Witherington needs must I wail, as one in doleful dumps (12)
For when his legs were smitten off, he fought upon his stumps
The Ballad of Chevy Chase (Anon)

25 But for all his foolish pranks, he was worshipped in the ranks
And the Colonel's daughter smiled on him as well
The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God (J Milton Hayes)

Maximum is 75. Less than 25 is poor. Less than 10 is rotten.

Answers to Next Lines of Songs

(I have not bothered to list composers or those who supplied the words; in a few cases I have named the singer most associated with the song.)

1. And the waters as they flow
Seem to murmur soft and low
Nellie Dean

2. Peu m’importe si tu m’aimes
Je me fous du monde entier
Hymne à l’amour (Edith Piaf)

3. The Sons of the Prophet are hardy and bold, and quite unaccustomed to fear
And among the most reckless of those men of old was Abdul the Bul-Bul Emir
Ivan Skivinsky Skivar (Frank Crummett)

4. Though they said at the school of acting she was lovely as Peer Gynt
I think, on the whole, an ingénue role might emphasise her squint
Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs Worthington (Noel Coward)

5. Though I am nothing to her, though she must rarely look at me
And though I could never woo her, I'll love her till I die
Silent Worship

6. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day
Home on the Range

7. If you should chance to meet 'im, walking round the town

Shake 'im by 'is fat old hand and give 'im 'arf a crown
The Laughing Policeman (Charles Penrose)

8. Erreicht den Hof mit Müh und Not
In seinen Armen das Kind war tot
The Erl King

9. Our feelings we with difficulty smother
When constabulary duty’s to be done
A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One

10. Venite all'agile, barchetta mia
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!
Santa Lucia

11. Confound their politics
Frustrate their knavish tricks
God Save the Queen

(If you didn't get this one right your application for asylum is refused: go back whence you came).

12. Hearts full of passion,
jealousy and hate
Woman needs man and man must have his mate
As Time Goes By

13. She stood on the bridge at midnight, dreaming of her blighted love
There’s a scream, a splash, Good ‘Eavens! What is she a-doin’ of?
She Was Poor, but She Was Honest

14. Here’s my definition, believe me dear brother
A fire on one end, a fool on the other
Cigareets and Whusky and Wild, Wild, Women

15. But I struck one chord of music
Like the sound of a great Amen
The Lost Chord

16. Oppressed so hard they could not stand
Let my people go
Go Down, Moses

17. Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we Praise
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
(Deduct two points—or ten points if you are in Holy Orders—if you thought it was Pavilion'd in splendour, and girded with praise: that’s in another hymn: Oh, Worship the King All Glorious Above)

18. But as soon as someone kisses me
I somehow, sorta, wanta kiss him back!
I Cain’t Say No

19. When I went out for nuts and a programme
The dirty dog stole her away
The Spaniard That Blighted My Life

20. If at those roses you ventured to sip
The colour might all come away on your lip
The Mountains of Mourne

21. If those lips could only speak and those eyes could only see
If those beautiful golden tresses were there in reality
Only a Beautiful Picture in a Beautiful Golden Frame

22. Last night as I lay on my pillow, last night as I lay on my bed
Last night as I lay on my pillow, I dreamed that my Bonnie was dead
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean

23. And the devil will drag you under, by the sharp lapel of your checkered coat
Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down
Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat

24. Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
Waltzing Matilda

25. Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
We'll keep the red flag flying here
The Red Flag

Your score

Maximum is fifty; anyone who scored below twenty is less than forty-five years old, or has a poor memory for songs, or is not Anglophone, or has led a very quiet life.

(You can see and hear Piaf sing Hymne à l'Amour )

Back to Other Men's Flowers


From the Oxford English Dictionary:

Contraction of med.L. gamma ut; f. GAMMA the name of the symbol (introduced in the Middle Ages to represent a note one tone lower than the which began the scale inherited from classical times) + ut, the first of a series of six syllables used as the names of the six notes forming a hexachord.

1. The first or lowest note in the mediæval scale of music, answering to the modern G on the lowest line of the bass stave. Obs. exc. Hist.

2. The ‘Great Scale’, comprising the seven hexachords or partial scales, and consisting of all the recognized notes used in mediæval music. It extended from ut (= G on the lowest line of the bass stave) to E-la (= E in the highest space of the treble). Obs. exc. Hist.

3. Hence in later use: The whole series of notes that are recognized by musicians. Sometimes also used for: The major diatonic scale, or the ‘scale’ recognized by any particular people, or at any period.
b. The compass or full range of notes which a voice or instrument is capable of producing.

4. transf. and fig. The whole scale, range, or compass of a thing.

Answers to Last Lines

1: Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
Song of Solomon (around 965 BC).....The Authorised Version of the Bible

2: We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped.
The Turn of the Screw (1898).....Henry James

3: Reader, I married him
If you thought Jane Eyre, deduct two marks. This is not the last line, it is the first line of the last chapter.

4: They stood for a moment at the balustrade and looked at Trafalgar Square. Cabs and omnibuses hurried to and fro, and cabs passed, hastening in every direction, and the sun was shining.
Of Human Bondage (1915).....Somerset Maugham

5: Certain vegetables or substances which partake of the nature both of vegetable and animals.
Dictionary (Definition of zoophyte) (1755).....Samuel Johnson

6: Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.
The Nine Billion Names of God (1953).....Arthur C Clarke

7: He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not until they had examined the rings that they recognised who it was.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890/91).....Oscar Wilde

8: The tomb bore the names of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, and below the names it was written—“In their death they were not divided”.
The Mill on the Floss (1860).....George Eliot

9: The gun, Bill Roach had finally convinced himself, was after all a dream.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974).....John le Carré

10: 'Tootle-oo to you,' she said. 'But you’ll be seeing me again.'

And the curlew fluted once more.
Whisky Galore (1947).....Compton Mackenzie

11: Then the schoolmaster glanced instinctively at the red ribbon which adorned the Senator’s button-hole. The latter noticed his glance.
‘Well, who knows?’ Piéchut said.

Clochemerle (1934).....Gabriel Chevallier

12: And now I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers—shrivelled now, and brown and flat and brittle—to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man.
The Time Machine (1895).....H G Wells

13:…the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen—all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.
Homage to Catalonia (1938).....George Orwell

14: The papers report more falls of snow, out-lying farms and villages in Yorkshire, East Lothian, and in the Highlands are entirely isolated by the deep snow.
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady (1906).....Edith Holden

15: ‘Simmonds, Chiltern Street, London W1,’ she wrote, ‘Coming home’. But, after a moment, she thought that this was not entirely accurate and, crossing out the words ‘Coming home’, wrote simply ‘Returning’.
Hotel du Lac (1985).....Anita Brookner

16: I went straight to Redriff, where I arrived the same day at two in the afternoon, and found my wife and family in good health.
Gulliver’s Travels (1726/1735).....Jonathan Swift

17: The men began singing, a grave, slow song that drifted away into the night. Soon the road was empty. All that remained of the German regiment was a little cloud of dust.

Suite Française (1941/2, pub. 2004).....Irène Némirovsky

18: At first, amid the applause of the gods, he betrayed a trifle of his old self-consciousness and awkwardness. This passed away as the puppies’ antics and mauling continued, and he lay with half-shut, patient eyes, drowsing in the sun.
White Fang (1907)
.....Jack London

19: whom alone the love, and the tenderness, and the purity, and the strength, and the courage, and the wisdom of all these dwell forever in perfect fulness.
Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857).....Thomas Hughes

20: Even the mature historian’s privilege of setting forth conversations of which he knows only the gist is one that I have availed myself of hardly at all.
I, Claudius (1934).....Robert Graves

21: I straightened the tie. I pulled down the waistcoat. I shot the cuffs. I felt absolutely all-righto.

‘Lead me to her,’ I said.
A story in Very Good, Jeeves (1930).....P G Wodehouse

22: We stared at it for a long time, trying to work it out. Martin was right. It didn’t look as though it was moving, but it must have been, I suppose.
A Long Way Down (2005).....Nick Hornby

23: But it was so far away that the four peaks looked trifling, hardly distinguishable, and different from the way they looked from the farm. The outline of the mountain was slowly smoothed and levelled out by the hand of distance.
Out of Africa (1937).....Karen Blixen

24: Though her hands were imprecise blurs, paint heaped on paint and rolled with the brush, the rest of her skin had been expertly rendered in all its variety—chalky whites and lively pinks, the underlying blueof her veins and the ever present human hint of yellow, intimation of what is to come.
On Beauty (2005).....Zadie Smith

25: Had meal with Lou at 5.30, saw the News, watched the dreary saga of murder and mayhem. By 6.30 pain in the back was pulsating as its never done before… so this, plus the stomach trouble combines to torture me – oh – what’s the bloody point?
Diaries (pub. 1993).....Kenneth Williams

Your score (out of 48)

4 or less: Your major leisure activity is probably not reading but may be fretwork, embroidery or Rugger.

between 5 and 25: 95% of all literate adults will score within this range,

between 26 and 35: You have read widely, have an excellent memory and probably have, or are reading for, a PhD in Literature. If we were to meet it is unlikely that we would become close friends.

36 or over:
Oh, yeah?

Return to Last Lines

Answers to First Lines

“We’re going through!” The Commander’s voice was like thin ice breaking.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.....James Thurber

The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls Royce. Super Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers.
The Long Goodbye.....Raymond Chandler

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover…..D H Lawrence

There were four of us – George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency.
Three Men in a Boat…..Jerome K Jerome

The truth is, if old Major Dover hadn’t dropped dead at Taunton races Jim would never have come to Thursgood’s.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy…..John Le Carré

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Four shots smashed into my groin, and I was off on the greatest adventure of my life.
Sleep Till Noon....Max Shulman

During the whole of a dull, dark and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country…

The Fall of the House of Usher.....Edgar Allen Poe

At the first glimpse of light the aerodrome wakes to life. As a matter of fact it never sleeps.
The Wonder Book of Aircraft (about 1936).....various authors

For several successive days, the scraps and tatters of a routed army had been moving through the city. (translation)
Boule de Suif.....Guy de Maupassant

I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. If I call it a novel it is only because I don't know what else to call it. I have little story to tell and I end neither with a death nor with a marriage.
The Razor's Edge.....W Somerset Maugham

Twilight over meadow and water, the eve-star shining above the hill, and old Nog the heron crying kra-a-ark!
Tarka the Otter.....Henry Williamson

It began with an advertisement in the Agony Column of the Times. I always read the Agony Column first and the news (if there is time) afterwards.
Brazilian Adventure.....Peter Fleming

Madam, I sit down to give you an undeniable proof of my considering your desires as indispensable orders.
Fanny Hill.....John Cleland

The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side of London, as red and ragged as a cloud of sunset.
The Man Who Was Thursday.....G K Chesterton

Of course, I have no right whatsoever to write down the truth about my life, involving as it naturally does the lives of so many other people…
Portrait of a Marriage.....V. Sackville-West (edit. Nigel Nicolson)

It is doubtful whether the gift was innate. For my own part, I think it came to him suddenly.
The Man Who Could Work Miracles.....H G Wells

It is a curious thing that at my age--fifty-five last birthday-I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history. I wonder what sort of a history it will be when I have finished it, if ever I come to the end of the trip!
King Solomon's Mines.....H Rider Haggard

It is cold at six-forty in the morning of a March day in Paris, and it seems even colder when a man is about to be executed by firing squad.
The Day of the Jackal.....Frederick Forsyth

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy.
I Capture the Castle.....Dodie Smith

The sky grew darker and darker as the morning wore on. By the time the coffee came round it was like a winter evening, and there were lights in all the windows that looked down on Hand and Ball Court.
Towards the End of the Morning.....Michael Frayn

"I wonder when in the world you're going to do anything, Rudolf?" said my brother's wife.
The Prisoner of Zenda.....Anthony Hope

Wilson sat on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel with his bald pink knees thrust against the ironwork.
The Heart of the Matter.....Graham Greene

At daybreak Billy Buck emerged from the bunkhouse and stood for a moment in the porch looking up at the sky.
The Red Pony.....John Steinbeck

I am going to take you back a matter of four or five years ago to an August afternoon and the race track at Saratoga, which is a spot in New York state very pleasant to behold.
The Lemon Drop Kid.....Damon Runyon

"The marvellous thing is that it's painless," he said, "that's how you know when it starts".
The Snows of Kilimanjaro.....Ernest Hemingway

Return to First Lines


This word appeared for the first time on the net on
27th April 2005

Click on the picture for an explanation

By February 2007, Google was finding 128 references

(NOTE: these are scallops. No photos of throdkins are currently available.)

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Fifty films

All these are films which to me are memorable in some way; some of them were not particularly good, but I would be happy to see any of them again—and in some cases again and again. They are in no order other than chronological.

Each title has a link to a relevant webpage.

1 Laughing Gravy 1931
2 A Night at the Opera 1935
3 Pépé le Moko 1936
4 Oh Mr Porter 1937
5 Camille 1937
6 The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938
7 Fric-Frac 1939
8 The Thief of Baghdad 1940
9 Citizen Kane 1941
10 Double Indemnity 1944
11 The Way Ahead 1944
12 Les Enfants du Paradis 1945
13 Brief Encounter 1945
14 Great Expectations 1946
15 A Matter of Life and Death 1946
16 La Belle et la Bête 1946
17 Green for Danger 1946
18 Oliver Twist 1948
19 Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948
20 The Third Man 1949
21 La Beauté du Diable 1949
22 Orphée 1949
23 The Lavender Hill Mob 1951
24 The African Queen 1951
25 Genevieve 1953
26 The Wages of Fear 1953
27 Seven Samurai 1954
28 Shane 1954
29 Paths of Glory 1957
30 A Touch of Evil 1958
31 Tunes of Glory 1960
32 El Cid 1961
33 Lawrence of Arabia 1962
34 The Leopard 1963
35 Dr Strangelove 1963
36 The Killers 1964
37 Seven Days in May 1964
38 A Man for All Seasons 1966
39 In the Heat of the Night 1967
40 Z 1968
41 The Godfather 1972
42 The Day of the Jackal 1973
43 Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975
44 The China Syndrome 1979
45 Kagemusha 1980
46 Manon des Sources 1986
47 Cinema Paradiso 1989
48 The Fencing Master 1992
49 The Usual Suspects 1995
50 Fargo 1996

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Can you eat it? The facts

Fried cockchafers
These insects are "vegetarians, and are wholesome and delicious fare for human beings". Their white grubs, rolled up in a paste of flour, milk and eggs, were the main dish at a great banquet in Paris in 1885; there were fifty people present, and the majority had second helpings.

Sonofabitch stew
A cowboy dish with ingredients (marrow-gut, liver, brain etc) from a newly killed fat calf.

Icelandic moss porridge
Mrs Beeton has recipes for using the lichen Iceland moss boiled, as jelly, or ground, as flour. In Iceland, it is made into a porridge or mixed into soups.

Cajun wild toad
There may well be some Acadian descendants in the south of Louisiana who eat this, but if so the fact has never been recorded.

Prairie dog
A burrowing rodent which barks. It is still commonly eaten by Indians and has a slightly 'earthy' taste.

Crunchy sand-bugs with honey
Also known as sea cicada, these are a delicacy in Thailand. The head is cut off and the carapace removed, then they are deep-fried and served with 'jungle honey' gathered from the wild.

An old-fashioned New England fruit dessert. 'Dowdying' is the technique of breaking up the crust partway through the cooking and pressing it down into the fruit.

Stuffed baboon's nostril
For all I know, someone, somewhere, may want to eat these, but I doubt it.

Apple slump
A pie made of cooked fruit with pieces of raised dough dropped on top; when cooked further it 'slumps' on the plate. It was immortalised by Louisa May (Little Women) Alcott.

Korean gelatinous rice.


In Sumatra, they cook water-buffalo meat in coconut milk with spices and flavourings, then reduce the mixture until it is thick and brown.

Wart-necked piddock
Piddocks are bivalves, found worldwide. They are luminous and it is said that chewing one and keeping it in your mouth gives you luminous breath; If you can get hold of a piddock this is a good party trick when the lights are low. Several species are found on the Pacific coast of America and the wart-necked one is considered worth eating, though not warts and all; you should remove its warty protuberance before tucking in.