Sunday, 24 December 2006

His top hat is being re-lined.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone. I'm off to Dorset to indulge in some family traditions like necking mulled wine with my sister, playing Ludo with my Granny, and smoking a thoughtful after-dinner cigar with the dog. Thank you for reading, and see you in the New Year.

Monday, 18 December 2006

When maths and sausages collide.

Sign in a shop on Tottenham Court Road: 'XXXX Sausages - now with 50% more meat!' You see, what they've done there is over-reached themselves. 10% more meat sounds quite good. Even 20%. But 50% more meat... frankly, there shouldn't have been that much room for improvement in the old sausages. They must have been at the most only 66.6% meat... and not even that, because if they were the signs would now say 100% meat. Which they don't. And suddenly the possibility that they were, say, 10% meat, and are now a mighty 15%, starts seeming horribly plausible...

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Let's give him a big hand...

In case you haven't yet seen it, it is my very great pleasure to bring to your attention what a friend of mine has already called 'The best story that has ever been in the news'. From the BBC website:

"The world's tallest man has saved two dolphins by using his long arms to reach into their stomachs and pull out dangerous plastic shards."

I mean. That's just unbeatable, isn't it? The World's Tallest Man! Two dolphins! Using his long arms!

If you want the full story, go here... but first, seriously consider whether reading more might ruin it. Are you not better off leaving the glorious details to your imagination? For instance, I like to believe that when they called in the World's Tallest Man, they hadn't even thought about his long arms. They just called him in because they were overwhelmed by the dolphin crisis, and thought... well, he's the World's Tallest Man! He's bound to have some ideas! So The World's Tallest Man arrived- travelling, as always in the World's Tallest Car- he had a look at the dolphins, shook his head sorrowfully (incidentally causing eddies in the lower atmosphere that would later result in a typhoon of the coast of Taiwan) , had a cup of tea, smoked his pipe... and then it hit him! Maybe my long arms could be of use!

Or better yet, maybe he wasn't called in at all. Perhaps he was simply taking a walk, using his long legs, when he stumbled across the two dolphins, lying on the beach of the river uttering piteous clicks, and pointing with their fins at their tummies... The World's Tallest Man, moved by their plight, had a look at the dolphins, shook his head sorrowfully, and... well, you know the rest.

Or perhaps it was no accident. Perhaps the World's Tallest Man sought the dolphins out. Perhaps he is so modest that this is the first of his acts of animal heroism to reach the press, but in fact some years ago the World's Tallest Man took a solemn oath to use his God-given height to save God's creatures from distress. Yesterday, he used his long arms to rub embrocation on the throat of a giraffe with pharyngitis. Tomorrow, he will use his long back to provide shelter for a family of marmosets. And every night, animals everywhere thank God for the long limbs and benevolent nature of the World's Tallest Man.

However it happened, the thing I'm most keen to keep believing - and which, fortunately, the article does not contradict- is that the World's Tallest Man saved both dolphins at the same time. After all, there were two dolphins, he has two long arms... why waste time? As I see it, the dolphins were placed on trollies, and positioned one on each side of the World's Tallest Man. The World's Tallest Man took a deep breath, and extended both arms sideways.... until in no time, the World's Tallest Man was up to both shoulders in dolphin. And that's the image I shall be using on my Christmas cards this year.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Who'd have thought it - the French are no different from you and I.

Well, wasn't that fun!? Oh. Wasn't it?

Nevertheless, the results are:

=1 Phoebe 12
=1 James H
=2 Tessa 11
=2 Joe
5 Matt 10
6 The Squirrelator 8
7 Miss Teak 5

James Lark is, as ever, in a class all of his own.

Which means, on average, you guessed 9.8 out of 27 (not counting the Americans, which was a mean trick) - almost exactly what you'd have got by random guesswork. I hope that's taught us all a valuable lesson. It's not for me to say that with this humble game, I have essentially abolished racism, but if that's the view of the Nobel committee, then it would be graceless not to accept their prize. Oh, and in case you're interested, the most misleading faces belong to the French and German gentlemen in the first set, whom not a single person correctly identified; and the most easily identified face was that of my Granny, labelled British by everyone except the one person who's met her. So, there you have it. You can't get more British than Granny.

If James H and Phoebe would like to get in touch one way or another, stating their preference for Crunchie, book, or blog entry, then their prizes will be sent winging to them.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

An Englishman, a Frenchman and a German walk into a bar...

Behold: The answers!

1) Herr Marc Schulze. 2) Mr. Chris Wootton. 3) M. Sylvain Tesson.

1) Ms. Gabby Hood. 2) Fraulein Katharina Gebauer. 3) Mlle. Valerie Allain.

1) Herr Kurt Weinzerl. 2) Mr. Piers McCausland. 3) M. Pierre Yves Le Franc.

1) Mme. Germaine Belleguic. 2) Frau Elisabeth Heister-Neumann. 3) Mrs. Doris Finnemore.
1) Prof. Dr. Rolf-Dieter Heuer. 2) Prof Anthony Snodgrass. 3) Prof Georges Rhin.

1) Councillor Harry Webb, Labour Councillor for Havering. 2) Mme. Martine Leclerc, Vice President, The Regional Council for Limousin. 3) Herr. Hartmut Mollring, Minister of Finance, Lower Saxony.

1) Pfarrer Wolfgang Ipolt. 2) Pere Alain-Christian Leraitre. 3) The Rev. Douglas Claypole-White.
1) Herr Hermann Dornemann, 111. 2) Mme. Marie Bremont, 115. 3) Mr. Henry Allingham, 110.

1) Marcel Marceau. 2) Florence Nightingale. 3) Jacques Offenbach.

Triple Bluff. 1) Abe Goldstein of Iowa. 2) Bob Carlson of Washington. 3) Jim Ross of Vancouver. Sorry about that one.

Tomorrow: The Results!

N.B. If you're one of the people featured, or a member of their family, and you'd like me to remove you from this post, let me know, and I'll happily do so. I hope you don't, though. How many google searches for your name turn up the opportunity to find out how French, German and British people think you look?

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome.

Here it is, then: the Grand One Hundred (And One) Posts Celebratory Picture Quiz.

Essentially, it's a version of the always-amusing game you can play in departure lounges, where you try to guess whether a particular passenger is from the country you're leaving or the country you're travelling to. But, with the help of the magical internet, I have assembled thirty people who are not only from three different countries, but are also quite astronomically unlikely ever to catch the same plane.

Your task, if you choose to accept it, which you must, is to look at the following ten sets of three people, decide which of each is from the great nations of France, Germany and Britain, and post your guesses in the comments section. Next Monday, I shall put up the answers, and then we shall see what we shall see. There may even be a prize. Hell, there will be a prize. In the spirit of the game, the winner can have his or her choice of one of three things: 1) the opportunity to write the next entry in this blog. 2) A secondhand book of my choice from my shelves. 3) A delicious Cadbury's Crunchie. So, with the prospect of milk chocolate with a golden honeycomb centre spurring you on to victory, get to it, and see if you can tell Hermann from Henry, Sylvain from Siegfried, and Piers from Pierre.

Good Luck. Bon Chance. Good Luck in German.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Turns out you get a telegram from Christopher Berners-Lee.

This, would you believe, is my 100th post. Who would have thought I had so much to say.

I'm working on another exciting picture quiz to celebrate, but it's taking me far too long to prepare, so it'll just have to be in celebration of the 101st post instead. That's a significant number too, isn't it? If you're a dalmation. Meanwhile...

Book in the library I'm working in: 'Just Enough German.' Third time lucky for the publishers, there, after disappointing sales for 'Not Enough German' and 'Too Much German!'.

Which had to be delivered in a truck.