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Tuesday 9 October 2012

Thing To Do Today: sneeze.

Do you have a cold?


Well, I hope you've got some pepper, then.

What? You do have a cold?

Oh dear, I'm sorry. I hope it'll soon be over. Honey and lemon are very good. I can't guarantee they'll cure you, but as medicines go they're not to be sneezed at (though why on earth anyone would sneeze when confronted with something horrible I have no idea at all).

In China you sneeze when people are talking about you. One sneeze means that they're saying something good, two sneezes something bad, three sneezes means they're in love...and four sneezes means you've got a cold.

In the Odyssey a sneeze is all good news. Telemachus's sneeze is taken by his mother Penelope as a sign the Gods will help them in their revenge on Penelope's suitors.

Yes, I know it sounds a little mad, but as it happens Penelope is right. 

Sneezewood comes from the tree Ptaeroxylon utile, which comes from South Africa. The wood is especially tough, smells of pepper (hence, presumably, the sneeze bit) and is used for making bridges, piers and fence posts.

Sneezewort is a Eurasian plant, Achillea ptarmica. The leaves, when dried and powdered, make people sneeze. As, surely, would any other powdered leaf, but hey...

Bless you, anyway.

Thing To Do Today: sneeze. This word is related to the Old Norse fnȳsa and the Greek pneuma, which means breath.

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