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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Tyler

MULTUM IN PARVO - Random Jottings

1 This latin phrase, meaning Much in Little, was the title of a small revision book written by my Prep School history master in Bristol, Michael Cork MA(Cantab). It was Michael who first sparked my interest in history some 67 years ago.

2 Lungwort. A familiar(?) plant of the English countryside, and of cottage style gardens, yet only introduced here in the 16th century. It has yellow or white spots on its leaves, with a pinkish flower which changes into a blueish one.

You may possibly know it by one if its local names, such as Jerusalem Cowslip, Soldier and his Wife, Children of Israel, Adam and Eve, Lady's Pincushion, Good Friday Plant, etc, etc.

Lungwort was used in the treatment of respiratory disorders, TB, urinary infections etc. It is still possible to buy in some health food shops.

I wonder if any of our scientists are checking it out for any effect it might have on the coronavirus?

3 Greenland: World's Largest Island?

Thanks to one of my readers we had an exchange over the internet about Australia being the largest island. Today geographers refer to Australia as a continent, even though you can legitimately say 'island continent'. Thus Greenland IS the largest island.

A more scientific explanation, provided by my son, is that Greenland is on the same tectonic plate as the North American continent, and is therefore correctly described as an island off that continent, whereas Australia sits on its own tectonic plate and is not an island of another continent.

4 How others saw us

A French anonymous writer wrote the following in the 15th century:

'The English are a race accursed, denying virtue and justice ..... proud, pompous and deceitful hypocrites without conscience, tyrants .....who swallow down human blood, like birds of prey, who live by robbery at the expense of their simple and well-disposed neighbours.'

Hardly surprising we found The EU difficult !

5 Old Remedies: Leeches to blood you

This was a popular remedy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, before more modern remedies were applied. Leech gatherers made a tough living by wading into ponds and allowing the leeches to attach themselves to their legs. Once enough had attached the gatherer left the pond, removed the leeches, and then bled for up to ten hours. Most of the gatherers were women.

Demand soon exceeded supply and French leeches had to be imported to fill the gap.

Leeches are still bred in sterile conditions in laboratories.

Any of my medic friends who can add to this please email me at

and I will try and add your comments in a fresh blog.

6 Childhood Memories. Recent correspondence in The Times about table manners set me thinking about my own, admittedly middle class, childhood:-

a No elbows on the table.

b Don't start eating until everyone has been served

c Don't stretch across anyone for salt, pepper etc

d Never tip soup towards you

e Pass the port to your left (admittedly not as a child)

f Never leave food on your plate!

Anyone like to email (v. above for email address)

7 Old Names for rooms and parts of rooms

a The Den In our house the second lounge, for other's father's study

b A Cosy Corner A corner, usually of a bedroom, which was mother's special place (in my family my grandmother's special place)

c A Scullery. A second kitchen for washing up etc

Anyone care to add to the list (v above for email address)

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