I have been suffering from a cold this week, almost certainly gathered from one of those intensive infection tubes known as an aeroplane at the end of last week. Happily, none of my instructing solicitors have asked me to do anything very difficult this week: my head has been spinning. Instead, I have been drinking hot toddies, taking the medicine which doesn’t get rid of the cold, but does at least somewhat stem the dripping nose, and passing the time doing The Times crossword.
Somewhat to my surprise, I was able to finish the puzzles both on Monday and yesterday. There were solution words which I found challenging. On Monday, I had to look up polysaccharide. Perhaps I should have recalled it from my education when I did chemistry, but if I ever knew it, it had gone.
Yesterday was even worse. I had to look in the dictionary to check that celesta is an acceptable variation of celeste. Pietistic is not a word which has ever fallen from my lips. I have no idea what a stot is, but I presume that it is some sort of bovine.
Nor had I ever heard of a Sanbenito, which is apparently a garment which the Catholics required their victims to wear during the Spanish Inquisition. I looked it up. It is apparently named for St Benedict, a Negro born to slave parents in Sicily in 1526. It had never occurred to me that the Italians kept slaves in this way in the 16th century. It seems that young Benedict would also have been kept as a slave, but his freedom was granted to his parents before his birth in recognition of their loyal service, and he grew up to be a grande fromage in the Catholic Church. Quite why the obscure garment was named after him is a complete mystery to me.
Also, it seems, the Catholics made the heretics wear tall pointed hats, like a dunce’s hat. I wonder if that is where the tradition of the dunce’s hat comes from? If so, it’s all a bit rich.
 I’ve just looked it up. It seems to be an old English word for a young ox.