The Lily Saga

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Phillip Adams, Newspaper columnist and radio broadcaster.


Dear Lee,

If only you had asked me something simple. If only the corpse had had, for example, a daisy shoved up his bum. That would be simple.

But the iconography of the lily is as lost on me as it is on you. True, the lily has had a long association with mortality. Bust Christ only knows why.

If Richard is like my kids, it will take him forever to tidy his room. So we're probably both off the hook.

Would he like to know why the Greeks called the pyramids and obelisk the obelisk? I know the answer to that and it is quite funny.

Regretfully, Phillip Adams.


Bastard! I couldn't let that go.

Dear Phillip,

You're a dirty rat, you know!

I write to you, brimful of hope that you, the cavalry, can rescue the beleaguered troops from the lily waving hordes and what do I get?

Obelisks! Egyptian newspapers! The Daily Granite.

There I was up to my fetlocks in lilies, barely staying afloat and you throw me a basalt billboard. You are a worry, Mr Adams.

But now curiosity has got the better of me...

Obelisk? Is it Greek for red herring?

Nevermind, I give up; why did the Greeks call the pyramids and obelisk, the obelisk?

Yours in shock...


And the answer came...

When the Greeks arrived in ancient Egypt to take the place over, they refused to be awed. So they called the giant tombs near Cairo 'pyramids' after the little buns you could buy in the Athens street markets. Obelisk, similarly, was a piece of nose-thumbing, meaning a kitchen skewer. They also went "baa baa" at the Egyptians, mocking their language. From whence comes barbarian.

OK, it's not much. But I wanted to make amends for my failure re the lily.

Cheers, Phillip.


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