While I was researching The Horologicon there was one word that I desperately wanted to track down. Somebody had once told me that there was a single Italian word for the practice of buying two suit jackets, one to actually wear as you swan from café to café, and one to leave hanging over the chair in your office so it looks like you're at work.
You'll admit that that's a pretty good word.
But I couldn't find it. I searched and I e-mailed and in the end I managed to get the translation and interpretation department of a major Italian institution onto the question. Every one of them said that they knew of the practice of buying two suit jackets, one to actually wear as you swan from café to café, and one to leave hanging over the chair in your office so it looks like you're at work, but none of them had ever heard of a single word to describe it.
So with heavy heart and hanging head, I gave up and toddled down to the pub to drown my sorrows (remembering, of course, to leave my jacket hanging over the chair by my computer, in case the Muse came past).
It's a poor substitute, but I came across another Italian word today, which may reveal something about the great and beautifully governed nation. Dietrologia is the study of the real reason for things, as opposed to the official explanation. There is more about it in this Economist article. It's rather useful to describe conspiracy theorists.
Or is that just what I want you to think?