Tuesday 29 August 2006

Volumes of a set of encyclopedias in the British Library which I think would make rather good book titles in their own right.

Airports Ancient
The companion work to the rather larger volume 'Airports Modern', this intriguing coffee-table book includes details of the Ithaca Aerodrome, the great landing plains of the Nile Delta, and Ninevah International Transport Hub.

Interjection Jesus
We know from the gospel of Luke that even as a boy of twelve Jesus was found in the temple, debating with the elders. But the author of this theological study has found more details in the apocryphal gospel of Leslie, revealing that the young messiah was in fact a right little know-all, given the nick-name 'Interjection' Jesus by his rabbis from his habit of piping up during talmudic debate with comments such as 'Yes, obviously'; 'Doesn't sound like Dad to me' or 'Tell you what -shall I just ask him?'

Overseas Patella
The inspirational story of little Chrissie Brown of Newfoundland, who in 1983 was involved in a serious dogsled accident, and urgently required a knee transplant. But so uniquely knobbly was her kneebone that the only suitable donor that could be found was an old man in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands. And so began a thrilling dash across the Atlantic to track down the donor, forcibly remove his knee, and return it to Chrissie before it went all green and manky. Heart-warming.

Quran Ropework
Islamic boyscouts! Impress your troop leader and the Almighty in equal measure with this guide to rendering the 99 names of Allah in knotted twine! Instructive, but potentially blasphemous if you're hamfisted.

Surveillance Tea
Suspicious of how much work the builders are doing while you're out of the house? Worried about what the au pair or babysitter gets up to? Surveillance Tea is the answer, according to this brochure from Janus Security Devices Ltd. Brew them a pot before you leave, flick the in-handle camera and the up-spout microphone to 'on', and prepare to learn the worst.

Friday 25 August 2006

An elephant never exfoliates.

It struck me today that 'pachyderm', as in elephant, means 'thick-skinned'. Fair enough. They are. But it does seem to suggest that two ancient Greeks must once have had a conversation on these lines:

- So, then. Regarding this gigantic creature in front of us, then; the largest land animal any man has ever seen, with its monstrous flapping ears, its two huge shafts of bone projecting from its mouth, and its incredible prehensile proboscis, with which it is even now sending gallons of water cascading over its enormous body, as it lets loose a mighty trumpeting roar... what would you say is the most striking thing about it?

- I bet it's got really thick skin.

- ...Yes, it probably has. Ok, let's call it that.

- Fine by me. By the way, what's a gallon?

- Oh, alright. Kotulai, then. Smart alec.

Thursday 24 August 2006

Bad news for Mrs Venetia Phair, an 87 year old retired teacher from Epsom.

Pluto, the planet for which she suggested the name, as an eleven year old schoolgirl in Oxford, is now officially no longer a planet. It is now... a rock.

Poor old Pluto. We've all had days like that, haven't we.

Sunday 13 August 2006

My lawyers wish me to point out that my friends are in fact all exceptionally moderate and responsible drinkers. Almost tediously so, in fact.

The terrible thing about going on holiday with a group of old friends, of course, is that it becomes impossible to carry on ignoring the scale of their various drinking problems. Some, of course, make no attempt to hide the extent of their dependency:

While others try to hide behind such subterfuges as the 'I'm just going up to my room for a nap' ploy...

...or the 'Oh, only one glass for me...' dodge.

But perhaps saddest of all are those with that particularly acute type of drinking problem familiar to anyone who's seen the film 'Airplane!'...


Thursday 10 August 2006

The Mysterious 'Mystery' Mystery.

Last November, I posted to an eager world my enthralling adventures googling for the lyrics of Hugh Laurie's song 'Mystery'. ( http://johnfinnemore.blogspot.com/2005/11/spoilt-for-choice.html , should you want to relive those heady days.) This month, people from all over the world, but especially America, have reached my site by doing exactly the same thing. What on earth is going on? Is it a question in an international pub quiz? Did he start humming it in a new episode of 'House'? Whatever the reason, I feel a bit bad, because the post was about my failure to find the lyrics, which must be particularly irritating to read if you're only here as a result of your attempt to find them yourself. So here, as a public service are the lyrics to Mystery, by Hugh Laurie. And perhaps in return, one of you could tell me why you're all looking for them...


All my life has been a mystery
You and I were never ever meant to be
It's why I call my love for you a mystery

Different country
You and I have always lived in a different country
And I know that airline tickets don't grow on-a-tree
So what kept us apart is plain for me to see
That much at least is not really a mystery

I live in a houseboat on an estuary
Which is handy for my work with the Thames Water Authority
But I know you would have found it insanitary

Taken a violent dislike to me
I'd be foolish to ignore the possibility
That if we ever actually met, you might have hated me
Still, that's not the only problem that I can see...

Dead since 1973
You've been dead now . . . wait a minute, let me see
Fifteen years come next Jan-yoo-a-ree
As a human being you are history

So why do why I still long for you?
Why is my love so strong for you?
Why did I write this song for you?
Well, I guess it's just... a mystery

Tuesday 8 August 2006

Three lines of dialogue in an otherwise harmless novel, published 1938, that made me suddenly keen to make sure no-one was reading over my shoulder.

Spoken by the hero:

'That's what comes of emancipating the wrong type of female. For a thousand years they breed a species to need a keeper and then they let it off the chain and expect it to behave.'

By another character:

'These government fellows, they wouldn't stand me for ten minutes if it wasn't for one thing. Do you know what it is? I'm a genius with my niggers.'

And, most strikingly of all, by the hero again; to his sister:

'What you need, my girl, is a good cry or a nice rape - either, I should think.'

For the record, his sister finds this annoying, and replies 'witheringly'. Cuh. Some people'll take offence at anything...

Sunday 6 August 2006


Hello. I'm back. Tell you what, tiny bits of France are a lot bigger than they look on the map. Thank heavens I had with me those two veteran walkers, the Start-Rite kids.

It was a lot hotter than it looked on the map, too. Although the ingenious walker can always find a solution to this problem. Drinking plenty of water, perhaps, or carrying a portable fan, or...