Daily Mail

A towering tune for Fred

- Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION Who composed the catchy tune for the Fred Dibnah: Steeplejac­k TV show?

This tune is The Carnival Of Venice, which is based on the Neapolitan folk song O Mamma, Mamma Cara.

it was popularise­d by Niccolo Paganini in his 20 fiendishly difficult variations for violin (in scordatura) and orchestra or piano in 1829.

That year, Chopin dedicated A souvenir de Paganini, a set of variations for piano, to the great violinist.

The version used in the TV show was arranged for flute by the italian composer Giulio Briccialdi. There are variations for the cornet, trumpet, euphonium, piano, classical guitar and double bass.

There are at least two versions with German lyrics: Mein Hut, Der Hat Drei Ecken (My hat, it has Three Corners) and Ein Hund Kam In Die Kuche (A Dog Came into The Kitchen).

in the 1959 film The Five Pennies, Danny Kaye gives a short, wordless rendition of the ditty.

E. Felix Schoendorf­er, Stoke Poges, Bucks. FlAuTisT Giulio Briccialdi’s virtuoso arrangemen­t of The Carnival Of Venice, performed by sir James Galway, was used as the theme music for the Fred Dibnah programme.

Briccialdi was born in Terni, italy, in 1818. A musician of great virtuosity, he was nicknamed the Prince of Flautists.

A much sought after First Flute, he played for several European orchestras. Briccialdi was famous for his intermezzi, short solos between acts.

he was flute teacher at the Accademia Nazionale di santa Cecilia in Rome before becoming director of the flute-making firm Rudall & Rose in london.

he was responsibl­e for several developmen­ts in the flute, notably the thumb key, which is also known as the Briccialdi B-flat key.

Mark Carter, Oxford.

QUESTION What is the origin of the phrase ‘show a leg’, meaning to hurry up?

This British Navy expression originated as a practical means of communicat­ing important informatio­n. show a leg means to get out of bed, though it subsequent­ly took the meaning of report immediatel­y.

There is a folk story that it was used to distinguis­h which bunks were occupied by sailors or their wives and prostitute­s who had been smuggled aboard ship.

if the leg shown was adorned with silk, the owner was allowed to continue sleeping; if the leg was hairy and tattooed, the owner had to get to work.

The earliest reference comes from 1803’s Travels Of Four Years And A half in The united states Of America by John Davies: ‘starboard watch ahoy! heave out there! heave out! shew a leg there! shew a leg! Must i send a hauling line down for you starbaulin­s [men of the starboard watch]? hoa! The watch ahoy! i am getting my knife ready to saw your bedposts.’

in 1824’s ships Of War, missionary George Charles smith explained the origin of the phrase: ‘This is a mode of expression in the Navy by the boatswain when he is calling the crew up from their hammocks; that by showing a leg they may convince him they are not asleep and are ready to jump out quickly.’

The phrase was later adorned with the term purser’s stocking. The purser was the officer in charge of provisions and slops — which comes from the Medieval word sloppe, meaning breeches. A purser’s stocking was a general issue ‘slop’ garment that would fit any sailor.

From A sailor’s log- Book From Portsmouth To The Peiho in 1862, we have: ‘Rouse out, here! Rouse out! show a leg and a purser’s stocking! Rouse and bit: lash away! lash away!’

shake a leg, meaning to hurry up, has a different origin. it was once an invitation to get dancing.

Dictionari­es suggest it originated in the u.s., but scottish author sir Walter scott used it in his humorous poem search After happiness; or, The Quest Of sultaun solimaun, published in 1820: ‘ Next door to John there dwelt his sister Peg,

Once a wild lass as ever shook a leg When the blithe bagpipe blew.’

E. F. Timmins, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordsh­ire.

QUESTION Who owns Hans Island, which lies between Greenland and Canada?

HANS ISLAND is a rarity in that it is jointly owned by Canada and the Danish territory of Greenland.

A high, barren plateau 3 sq km in area, it is inhabited only by seabirds and visiting scientists.

it is the smallest of three islands, the other two being Danish, in the Kennedy Channel between the Canadian territory of Nunuvat and Greenland.

For many years, it was the centre of a dispute known as the Whiskey War, which was contested in such a polite manner that it’s been described as the most passive-aggressive conflict in history.

The island may have been visited by the Vikings in the 9th or 10th century when they colonised Greenland. The inuits knew it as Tartupaluk.

British and American expedition­s took place in the 1850s to search for missing explorer John Franklin and seek the elusive Northwest Passage — a sea route to the Pacific around the north of Canada.

The island was named after hans hendrik, a Greenlande­r who worked on the British and Americans expedition­s.

in 1923, the Permanent Court of internatio­nal Justice declared Denmark to be the owner of Greenland. Denmark then claimed hans island on the basis of geological evidence. Canada disputed this and in 1973 claimed the island as its own on the basis of its position.

The significan­ce of the island lies in ownership of the mineral rights. The ‘war’ between the two territorie­s was ‘fought’ on the basis of visits to the island by Danish and Canadian soldiers, who avoided being there at the same time.

The Canadians would leave a bottle of whiskey for the Danes who reciprocat­ed with a bottle of schnapps. in 1984, the Canadians escalated the conflict by planting a flag.

in 2005, both sides entered a peace process, which resulted in a treaty of joint ownership in 2022, splitting the island in half.

Bob Dillon, Edinburgh.

 ?? ?? Fearless: Steeplejac­k Fred Dibnah
Fearless: Steeplejac­k Fred Dibnah

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