Salvador Dali was partial to giving his works long names
Q IN your Ten Things You Never Knew column this Monday you mentioned a painting by Salvador Dalí entitled Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate A Second Before Awakening. Is this the record length for the title of a painting?
FS Andersen, Dunchurch, Warwickshire
A IT’S not even a record for Dalí. His Declaration Of The Independence Of The Imagination And Of The Rights Of Man To His Own Madness is 10 letters longer but even that pales into insignificance compared with Fifty Abstract Pictures Which As Seen From Two Yards Change Into Three Lenins Masquerading As Chinese And As Seen From Six Yards Appear As The Head Of A Royal Bengal Tiger.
This is the only painting I know that beats JMW Turner’s Snow Storm – Steam-Boat Off A Harbour’s Mouth Making Signals In Shallow Water, And Going By The Lead. The Author Was In This Storm On The Night The “Ariel” Left Harwich.
The law around electric bikes is a bit of a mess
Q I HAVE been told an electric bike that will do more than 14mph is illegal yet many non-electric bikes can do double that. What is the law?
Gareth Davies, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
A THE law on this is messy, partly due to discrepancies between EU law and British law and partly because of differences between wording and its practice.
Basically electric bikes with a maximum engine power greater than 250W or top speed greater than 25kph (15.5mph) are considered to be motor vehicles so require registration, tax, insurance and the wearing of a motorcycle helmet. Electric bikes can be ridden at speeds greater than 15.5mph on private land with the landowner’s permission.
Q WHAT’S the origin of the phrase “get a wriggle (or wiggle) on”? I’ve heard both and remember my mother using it and I’m now 85.
Margaret Brakell, Redhill, Surrey
A I HAVE seen the phrase “get a wiggle on” described as modern Australian slang, with “get a wriggle on” given as the version more common in the UK but the true history gives it a much older pedigree.
The Oxford Dictionary dates the verb “to wiggle”, meaning “to move to and fro or from side to side irregularly and lightly” as dating back to the 13th or 14th century, while its earliest citation for “get a wiggle on”, meaning “hurry up” is from 1896.
But it does not mention “get a wriggle on” at all so we must assume this is a modern version of the older phrase with “wiggle”.
The Song Of The Western Men is a patriotic Cornish anthem
Q DURING the Second World War we used to be ushered into the hall at the end of the day to sing morale-boosting songs. One began “A good sword and a trusty hand” and went on to mention King James, Cornishmen and Trelawny. Which King James and who was Trelawny?
Gordon Hedley, Widdrington, Northumberland
A THE song is a patriotic Cornish anthem called The Song Of The Western Men.
There is some argument about whether it is about Sir Jonathan Trelawny, Bishop of Bristol, who was sent to the Tower of London by James II in 1688, or his grandfather, Sir John Trelawny, who was sent to the Tower by Parliament in 1628 for supporting Charles I.
It was written in 1824 by Robert Stephen Hawker and based on folk songs; he may have based his version on the wrong Trelawny.
The National Anthem is no longer played at the end of films
Q CAN you tell me when the National Anthem stopped being played in cinemas in the UK at the end of the film? Why did it stop?
Mrs J Motley, Neston, Cheshire
A I DON’T think it was a legal requirement to play it but it was usual at the end of the day’s screenings. It continued during the 1960s but I think growing liberalism and lack of respect for formality led to larger numbers of cinema-goers rushing for the exit at the first sounds of it.
By the early 1970s, the practice of playing the anthem had gone. Moving credits to the end of the film may also have led to the mass exodus we are used to.
The Indian supreme court ruled in November last year that their national anthem must be played in cinemas before a screening. In February this year it added that it is not necessary to stand for the anthem if it is played in a film.
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