Thursday, 13 November 2008

Random thoughts of a random fellow

I freely admit that the title of this post is adapted from Jerome K Jerome's work, Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, which I was fortunate enough to pick up in a second hand bookshop some years ago at a very reasonable price. However, Jerome squared, middle name Klapka, is not the subject of my latest offering. He deserves a post all to himself and I hope one day to do him justice.

The other day I was both pleased and proud to attend No.1 daughter's graduation at The Barbican in the City of London. Amongst those receiving awards was writer and broadcaster Victor Lewis-Smith, upon whom was bestowed an honorary doctorate. We were informed by the Vice-Chancellor during her speech that Mr. Lewis-Smith had once telephoned the Monopolies Commission to ask why there was only one of them. Now, to my knowledge, this particular piece of drollery was vouchsafed to me at least twenty years ago by none other than Stevyn Colgan, which leads me to one of two conclusions. Either Victor Lewis-Smith is a monstrous thief and plagiarist, or, quite independently of the (then) young Mr. Colgan, became possessed of a random thought regarding said Commission, which he subsequently went on to broadcast and (presumably) make money from.

To date, I have never made any money from my random thoughts, but this does not stop them from crowding in upon me, like onlookers stooping over a man collapsed upon a pavement. Here I offer some of them to you freely, to use as you wish (or not) without let or hindrance.

1. It is not possible to make a proper haiku from Tweety-Pie's song. I'll prove it:

I tawt I taw a
Puddy tat a creepin' up
On me. I did, I...

Told you.

2. What's the big deal about swimming with dolphins? They smell of fish and have that harsh, grating voice that Flipper demonstrated so well. I'd rather swim with tuna. They're quieter and you can eat 'em.

3. Obama spelt backwards is Amabo, a Latin word meaning 'I will love'. I'm not sure what this has to do with anything at all. McCain spelt backwards is Niaccm. NI, AC and CM are the elements Nickel, Actinium and Curium respectively. Again, I'm not sure where this is going.

4. Why aren't we genetically programmed to enjoy the foods that are good for us? After all, dolphins (here we go again) eat tuna, not Snickers bars, albeit it could be that their access to that particular sweetmeat is restricted by circumstances.

5. How do they manage to translate English songs into other languages? Take three English words that rhyme; love, dove, above. Now translate them into French; l'amour, colombe, la-haut. At best with l'amour and la-haut you get a para-rhyme (a bit like murder and mother) à la T.S.Eliot (an anagram of toilets). In German, you get liebe, taube and oben. It don't work. Surely you must end up with some horribly convoluted piece of work that bears no relation to the original.

6. Here's one that will annoy a large number of people. Why do folk support football teams? Why pay £50 to watch players who earn more in a week than they do in a year, and who have no compunction in leaving for another team if they get a better offer? And why do all Newcastle United supporters (who live, let's face it, in an area of high unemployment where cash is hard to come by) insist upon wearing team shirts (£29.99 plus VAT) at matches? Do they think they might get a game if someone goes sick? Ultimately, football fans are supporting just one thing; the name of their team, the only constant set against the ever-changing list of players and managers. I suppose it's a bit like my broom, I've had it for twenty years, and it's only ever needed two new handles and five new heads.

7. Why do the crews of UFOs only seem to abduct people who are already clinically insane? And why does the incidence of UFO sightings and photographs seem to have reduced dramatically since the almost universal possession of mobile phone cameras?

8. Why would anyone choose to go skiing? Picture the conversation: 'Hey, let's go to Austria. I can see it now; Viennese waltzes in a chandelier-lit ballroom, the music of Mozart, the Oberammagau Passion Play, sailing the glittering waters of the Blue Danube, dining on Weiner schnitzel and apple strudel whilst being serenaded by violins, the Sound of Music tour...' 'Nah, I'd rather spend a fortnight on a frozen hillside near Salzburg, thanks all the same.'

9. If someone ate a single oyster and it made them violently ill, they'd never eat another one. So why doesn't it work the same with beer?

10. Why does the town centre CCTV record only a fuzzy image of the mugger, whereas the speed camera's picture of your car numberplate is pin sharp?

All this is really just a ruse to give myself thinking time to reply to Stevyn's meme. And I will get round to it. Honest.


Stevyn Colgan said...

Blimey! You're right! I did say that! I also seem to remember doing a cartoon of it. I shall have to see if I still have it. I also did a cartoon of God sitting outside the offices of the Monopolies Commission looking worried ...

Some very, very random thoughts Mr Hale and very, very thought-provoking.

I have many random thoughts. Here are some on the subject of food. I can't claim credit for most of them and won't:

If we're not meant to eat animals, why are they made of meat?

Why are vegetarian foods so often shaped to look like or taste like meat products?

We can buy dolphin-friendly tuna ... but what about the tuna? Does no one give a toss about them?

What will vegetarians eat when they discover that plants have feelings (carrots scream when you pull them up allegedly)?

Who was the first person to drink milk from a cow? And what were they doing at the time?

If we are supposedly intelligently designed, why don't we favour foods that are good for us?

Cows provide beef and steak. Pigs provide pork, bacon and ham. Sheep provide mutton and lamb. So why do chickens only provide chicken? And, despite the many hundreds of species we eat, why do fish provide us solely with fish?

There are so many more ...

chris hale said...

Ah, Stevyn, Stevyn! So many random thoughts, so little time! Some excellent thoughts on food; probably enough for a complete posting.

Speaking of shrieking carrots, I discovered today that the element Indium in its pure form gives off a high-pitched 'scream' when bent.
Ah, the wonders of the Periodic Table (albeit I always thought it was called an occasional table).

doctawho42 said...

1. Tweety was obviously not endowed with a poetic spirit.

2. I swam with Dolphins when I was about seven and enjoyed it immensely. But then I enjoyed everything immensely when I was seven, so I don't know how reliable that is, to say it is at all enjoyable.

3. Obama. Amabo. I dunno either.

4. Because that would be too simple.

5. I suppose so.

6. It doesn't annoy me, not at all. I bloody hate Football, Aussie Rules even more so. That was part of the reason why I responded so heartily to your post, its a ruddy stupid game.

7. Ha!

8. Skiing is fun to write with a quill and ink (with the "I's" and the slopey "L's", but thats about it. I broke my ankle last time I bumbled about in the snow. I bumble no more.

9. Because Beer is golden. Oysters are grey. Asthetics.

10. Because there is a giant conspiracy.

The book meme is hard. Hard and painfull. I feel like I am hurting certain books' feelings by not choosing them straight away. They're staring down at me, from the bookshelf in the corner, aghhh, with their non-existant eyes. aghh!


chris hale said...


I bid you welcome to my little bit of blogdom, and thank you for your astute and, let's face it, interesting comments.

Please do call in again. The kettle's always on and there are plenty of Hob-Nobs in the biscuit tin!