We visited friends in Walthamstow (East London) this weekend and in the afternoon, we went out to the pub to play pool. We found a little gem: not only did it have a pool table but also a darts board! I thought I couldn’t be happier when at some point I heard a whirr behind me and, as if by magic, a giant screen unrolled from the ceiling just in time for Liverpool v Newcastle to start. Had plump little angels been flapping around, this could have been heaven.
After a few games of pool, we decided to play darts. That’s when I was told I had to stand behind the

[oki]. I asked about this mysterious word, but no-one was certain of how it should be spelt, let alone of its origin. My bilingual dictionary gives the following concise translation: "ligne derrière laquelle doivent se tenir les joueurs de fléchettes pour lancer" (line behind which darts players must stand to throw). My monolingual English dictionary didn’t have an entry for it. So I turned to Google and found the following explanation on the Team Archers website:

    It is said that the throwing distance was marked by placing three crates end to end from a brewery called Hockey & Sons (which supplied beer to the Southwest of England). The crates were three feet long, making the distance from the line to the board nine feet. The size of the Hockey & Sons crates was eventually reduced to two feet, and four crates lined up to mark the distance (eight feet). The 8-foot distance remained the standard for many years — and still exists in some places.
    The phrase "toeing the hockey" is said to have been brought about by the use of the Hockey & Sons crates, and the toe line is still called the "hockey", though it is more often spelled oche, and is pronounced without the "h".

What would we do without the Internet?