Ask Mr. Know-It-All Chivalry call leads to Birkenhead drill

Sunday September 30, 2012

United Feature Syndicate

Q: Where did the phrase "women and children first" originate?

K.S.Z., Glens Falls, N.Y.

A: On Feb. 26, 1852, HMS Birkenhead sank off the coast of South Africa. The ship carried 480 British troops and 20 women and children. The ship had only one life boat. The commander told his troops to "stand fast" and evacuate "women and children first."

Most of the soldiers and sailors died that day, but all of the women and children survived.

The ethos became known as the "Birkenhead Drill," and it was celebrated in verse by Rudyard Kipling in the poem "Soldier an’ Sailor Too."

Q: In the mid-1970s, a lovely young actress named Jenny Agutter had a seemingly brief career in three successive motion pictures: "Logan’s Run," "China 9, Liberty 37" and "An American Werewolf in London."

Then she disappeared -- except for occasional reruns of these films on TV.

What happened after that, and what’s she doing today?

L.R., Reading, Pa.

A: Jenny Agutter was born Dec. 20, 1952, in Somerset, England. She began her acting career in the mid-1960s on the BBC.

At age 21, Agutter relocated to Hollywood and had roles in the movies you mentioned, along with more than 140 other movies, TV films and TV series.

Most recently, she had a small role in "The Avengers."

In 1990, Agutter married Johan Tham, a Swedish hotel director. They have one son, Jonathan. They live in Cornwall, England. She is active in charity work.

Q: In one of many business courses in college, I recall that the simple yet incredibly effective slogan, "It pays to advertise!" is credited to someone as its creator. Who is that someone?

T.L., Lakeside, Fla.

A: Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893-1957) was a renowned English crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator and humanist as well as an advertising copywriter.

She was also a student of classical and modern languages.

She is probably best known for her mysteries. Her translation work on "Dante’s Divine Comedy" is heralded.

As an advertiser, Sayers achieved considerable success. For Guinness, she helped create the toucan as part of the Guinness "Zoo" advertisements. Here is one of her jingles:

If he can say as you can

"Guinness is good for you"

How grand to be a Toucan

Just think what Toucan do

Her most famous advertising line is the one you asked about, "It pays to advertise!"

She created the line for S.H. Benson’s, an advertising firm in England.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions