Friday 20 November 2009

...And if Lt Colebourn had been posted to Saskatchewan, Piglet's friend would be Reggie the Pooh.

I’ve invented a good work-avoidance game, of researching what something was named after, and then what that was named after, and so on, until you reach the original source. Though it’s surprisingly hard to get more than three links. Here’s some examples:

Apple Macintosh computers are named after their inventor’s favourite type of apple, the McIntosh Red. The McIntosh Red is named after the Canadian farmer who first grew it, John McIntosh,  1777-1846. I suppose we could go back further by claiming that John was in a sense named after Shaw MacDuff, who founded the clan Mac an Toisich (son of the chieftan), but that feels like cheating.

They Might Be Giants, the band, are named after ‘They Might Be Giants’, the 1971 film starring George C Scott, which in turn is named after Don Quixote’s reason for tilting at windmills.

Winnie the Pooh  was named after a black bear at London zoo named Winnie (and a swan named Pooh, but we’ll concentrate on Winnie). Winnie the bear was donated to the zoo by Lt Harry Colebourn, who bought it from a hunter in Canada, and named it after the city of Winnipeg. Winnipeg takes its name from the Cree words meaning ‘Muddy Waters’.

The Kit Kat biscuit was first made by Rowntree’s in 1935, and named after the Kit Cat Club, an 18th century artists’ club. The club was (probably) named after the ‘Kit Cat’, a mutton pie served at the chop house where the club originally met. And the Kit Cat pie was named after its baker, the pastrycook Christopher (or ‘Kit’) Catling.

Incidentally, Kit Kats (the biscuits, not the mutton pies) have recently become very popular in Japan, particularly at exam season, because the name sounds similar to the Japanese phrase ‘Kitto Katso’, meaning ‘ You will surely win’, and a tradition has arisen of giving them as good luck charms.

So, if a seventeenth century pastrycook had preferred the abbreviation ‘Chris’ to ‘Kit’, it’s fair to assume the Nestle corporation would have lost a significant sum of money in the twenty first century. Bet you didn’t know that this morning.  

Monday 9 November 2009

Commercial Break

Firstly, Miranda Hart's fantastic new sitcom, in which I play a small part, starts going out tonight on BBC2. It's called 'Miranda', written by Miranda, and starring Miranda as the character 'Miranda'; and it's basically about a man named Chris who goes to a tango class. What the writer has rather cleverly done is restrict the main character's appearance to a couple of scenes in the second episode, to really maximise his impact; like Colonel Kurtz in 'Apocalypse Now'. (Or possibly, given that I haven't seen the edited version, like Rebecca in 'Rebecca'...) As I say, my bit is in the episode broadcast next week, on the 16th, but you should definitely start watching it tonight. It's really very good.

Secondly, I'm happy to say 'Cabin Pressure', that thing I do on the radio about pilots, has been nominated for a Writers' Guild Award. Hooray!

Friday 6 November 2009

Conversation that presumably took place between the planner and the caterer of a thing I was at recently.

- So, you want six trays of sandwiches, four of hors d'oeuvre, and four of fruit.
- Yes. Oh, and let's have one of cheese and biscuits as well.
- ...Ok. Some cheese, and some biscuits.
- ....Some cheese and biscuits, yes.
- ...How do you mean?
- Well, you know. A tray of cheese and biscuits.
- ...What, all on one tray?
- ...Yes.
- Together?
- Yes!
- Ok! You're the boss!

Monday 2 November 2009

Oh my God! The 134 from Chesham Broadway doesn't stop in Tring!

A poster I saw on a bus-stop in Hertfordshire:

Really? As shocked as that? Crikey. Just what kind of information are we talking about? Because, I can't help noticing, she doesn't seem shocked in a pleased way, like someone whose Hertfordshire travel knowledge has been expanded to hitherto undreamt of widths. Frankly, she looks as if a more honest strapline would be "You'll be horrified and appalled at how much information is available." Is some of the information about her? Does she maybe have a disgruntled ex-boyfriend who works for Hertfordshire Travel Information? Whatever's going on, I'm scared to go there now. Both to the site, and to Hertfordshire.