Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Queen Anne's Sign

In the days when newspapers were known as the Fourth Estate, copy editors sat around a U-shaped desk, cutting, clarifying and checking whatever the reporters and news services put out.

We were known as the Masters of Little Known and Useless Facts...such as the fact that the word restaurateur has no “n” and people from Ghana are Ghanaians, not Ghanans.

I have accumulated any number of new little known and useless facts since I started doing crossword puzzles (the definitions of “olla” and “etui” among them), and during a game of Bananagrams last week I learned that there are names for the Solf├Ęge notes between Do, Re, Mi, Sol, La and Ti. Imagine!

But the most interesting useless fact I’ve come across recently concerns Queen Anne’s Sign or the Sign of Hertoghe. It is the thinning or loss of the outer third of the eyebrows, a sign of hypothyroidism often disguised by women with a clever stroke of the eyebrow pencil. Wikipedia demonstrates Queen Anne’s Sign with a 1612 portrait of Anne of Denmark.

The Fourth Estate, the press, by the way, came after the First Estate (clergy), the Second Estate  (nobility), and the Third Estate, commoners. The term implied an importance and dignity which not everyone would accord newspapers since journalism became media.