No, it doesn’t mean the same thing as “smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em.”  Instead, it’s one of those delightful anachronistic expressions – and, indeed, a legal term – still used in the Mother Country and signifies that point in the evening  when it’s getting a bit too dark to see and is time to light the candles or turn on the headlights (one of my favorite times of day).

Technically, it starts half an hour after sunset.  Yes, you could just say “dusk”, but where’s the poetry in that?

Anyhoo, I was reminded of this expression again as I read this story of a plan next month to light up Hadrian’s Wall:

It is forbiddden to climb on Hadrian’s Wall, to remove even a fragment of stone or to make a lasting imprint in the ground around it, but next month more than 1,000 people will set it alight.

The plan, on March 13, is to ignite a chain of 500 points of light along the 84-mile length of the wall to illuminate it in a line of flaming torches and flares.

(You can nip across to the Times via the linky to see a video of the dress rehearsal.)

There doesn’t seem to be much point to the project other than to serve as a publicity stunt to draw attention to the Wall and boost tourism.  Nonetheless, I think it’s a good thing.  When I watched the vid, I kept imagining some poor Roman legionaire standing in a guard tower, ceaselessly glancing up and down the line for signs of Picts and wondering to himself how on earth he wound up here at whatever the Latin equivalent of “the back of beyond” might be.

Kinda gives one the historickal chills.