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2775.  Thu Dec 04, 2003 9:48 am Reply with quote

And a rather interesting link it looks like too:

Might be one for your QI Websites thread if you like it, Jenny. As might this one that I think garrick writes for:

2799.  Thu Dec 04, 2003 6:19 pm Reply with quote

In London, October 1814, how did three threads kill eight people?

2805.  Thu Dec 04, 2003 10:51 pm Reply with quote

Thanks Jack - I'll go and put both of them on there.

Hans I haven't managed to google that so far, but I did turn up the QI fact that the law compelling people to bury their dead in woollen shrouds was finally repealed in 1814.

2846.  Fri Dec 05, 2003 5:08 pm Reply with quote

Where and with whom might you use the word "Nig" if you were part of an upper class Victorian household?

2860.  Sat Dec 06, 2003 9:41 am Reply with quote

Well that gave me an interesting google session, Hans, and one answer that came up was:

Niggers, fellows who clip and file gold coin

Nig, clipping of money

But that doesn't strike me as very 'upper-class'.

Another website gives:


Nig-nog is slang for a fool.
Nig-nog is slang for a contrary, irritating person.
Nig-nog is derogatory slang for a black person.

However, these don't seem very 'upper-class' either.

So that's twice you've foxed me, Hans - tell us the answer?

2862.  Sat Dec 06, 2003 11:52 am Reply with quote


Gin did not become a respectable drink until well into the 20th Century. Many Victorians who liked gin, for the sake of keeping up appearances, would write "Nig" on the bottle believing this would throw the servants off the scent.

The "three threads" was the original nickname for porter beer because it was made from strong and weak beers from the London brewers mixed with pale beer from the country brewers. The strong beer, brewed in response to King William's gin invasion, was expensive so you couldn't afford a lot; the weak beer was cheap but you needed more of it to get a buzz and the pale beer whilst still affordable also tasted nice. The Bell Brewery in Shoreditch started making it commercially in 1722 and it was first served at the Blue Last pub. The vats it was brewed in were vast, some of them being 70 ft. in diameter and 30 ft. deep. That's 5,760,000 pints. A brewer might have 24 of these vats on the go at any one time. A smaller sized vat burst its iron bands in 1814 and eight people were killed in the flood, predominantly those who lived in basements nearby. It got the name porter in the 1740's because it was so well loved by London's market porters.

2864.  Sat Dec 06, 2003 12:55 pm Reply with quote

Oh I like those Hans - thank you! There was a similar flood of molasses in Boston in 1919 and another molasses flood in Sucarnoochee Mississippi in 1932.

2872.  Sun Dec 07, 2003 6:58 am Reply with quote

Are there any molasses flood survivors still with us?

2890.  Sun Dec 07, 2003 1:50 pm Reply with quote

Here's a website about the Boston molasses flood:

And this one's about the Sucarnoochee flood:

I shouldn't laugh, because it really wasn't funny for the poor person concerned, but I succumbed to an unholy fit of the giggles on this latter one when I read this bit of it:

Hundreds of townspeople were innocently strolling up and down the street at that moment, when suddenly T.R. Eakle, a shoe-shine boy working outside Metzger's Drugstore, cried out, "Molasses!" It was the last word he would ever utter, as the wall of boiling goo oozed over him and dragged him down, caramelizing him instantly.

The name T R Eakle seems all too apposite.

3853.  Mon Jan 05, 2004 9:11 am Reply with quote

On the " pong " theme, the corpse flower of Indonesia gives off an overwhelming smell of rotting flesh to attract the Sumatran carrion beetle. There's a competition on to grow the world's tallest most putrid flower with Bonn University currently claiming the lead with a nine foot specimen which weighs 120lb.
s: DTE 29.11.03

3874.  Mon Jan 05, 2004 8:50 pm Reply with quote

<<The name T R Eakle seems all too apposite.>>
Er---mightn't this, and the telltale verb "caramelize," twig one to the suspicion to that, in telling the Sucamoochee story, the tongue is almost out of the cheek?

3875.  Mon Jan 05, 2004 9:17 pm Reply with quote

Well that was the first suspicion that sprang to mind, Bradford...

3938.  Wed Jan 07, 2004 4:00 pm Reply with quote

Wasn't the corpse flower called Rafflesia, after the then Governor? What a way to be remembered; I think I'd prefer to be forgotten.

5596.  Tue Feb 03, 2004 7:59 am Reply with quote

Well, neither he nor his accompanying botanist Joseph Arnold seemed to think so. The Rafflesia arnoldi is the world's largest single flower, has no roots found to be very tasty by tree shrews.

6158.  Thu Feb 19, 2004 9:29 pm Reply with quote

2890 et al continued: as Stephane Mallarme said, everything in the world exists to be put into a book:

Stephen Puleo, Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 (Beacon Press, 2003), 263 pp.

“Puleo, a contributor to American History magazine, sets out to determine whether the collapse of a molasses tank that sent a tidal wave of 2.3 million gallons of the sticky liquid through Boston's North End and killed 21 people was the work of Italian anarchists or due to negligence by the tank's owner, United States Industrial Alcohol.” {for more, visit your local}


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