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Not Necessarily A Matter of Taste and Toad

Hola... welcome to the most anticipated nonesense of the week. Once more it's a double bubble as I endeavor to both educate and entertain. The Bitter End is a small sample of my research into the origins of nautical phrases and trivia. Much more of which can be found on the web site www.harbourguides.com.

Toad is just another quickie horror story. It is again culled from my archive. But worry not I am working on new material. Just had a lot on my mind recently.

adios amigos muchos mojos

El Rey


Times like they are it makes one think that our economy is reaching the bitter end and as such we will all be left with a nasty taste in our mouths. Well that may or may not be true. We really don't know. Neither would it seem do the experts, either financial or etymological.

Let me explain. As true as it may be that the word 'bitter', meaning acrid or sour has been in use since around 8th Century it may well have little baring of the phrase 'the bitter end'. According to Captain Smith's 17th century publication 'Seaman's Grammar' - "A Bitter is but the turne of a Cable about the Bits, and veare it out by little and little. And the Bitters end is that part of the Cable doth stay within boord."

If that is the case it would seem that the bitter end actually refers to a length of ship's rope or cable that has been run out to its end, at which point it would be tied to one of the many bitts (meaning posts) on a ship's deck. In which case the phrase would mean that there was nothing left to use. Which it basically does… as well.


It caught his eye a few minutes after they got in. It was moving at the bottom of the garden. The dining room light didn't shine that far. He rummaged in the draw full of plasters, superglue, alca selters, batteries, and cellotape and found a windup torch. He cranked it up and said a prayer. He walked out of the back door and stood ready on Indian sandstone patio he had made himself. He accustomed his eyes to the dark and was suddenly absolutely sure something was out there moving around. He pressed the button on the wind up torch and the LEDlight beam exploded into the back garden and made it all silvery. And there it was. Staring back. The Toad. Huge. Stinking and moist. And with one hop it was on him and had sucked him up and swallowed him.

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