Saturday, 28 December 2013

Writing - Things we didn't know last year

Here's my almanac of the best of 2013.

1. It would have taken 2.5 million seagulls to lift James's giant peach into the air, not the 501 that Roald Dahl suggested.

2. Hot drinks taste different according to the cup colour.

3. It's easier to pick wet things up with wrinkled fingers - suggesting an evolutionary reason for getting "prune fingers" in the bath.

Man playing polo. Posed photograph
4. There are two firms in the world cloning polo ponies.

This worries me.

5. Two per cent of Europeans lack the genes for smelly armpits

6. Horse-eating is called Hippophagy.

Very apt for 2013

7. Women look their oldest every Wednesday at 3.30pm.

Would any man dare to point that out???

8. Wines with animals on the label are known as "critter wines" in the US.

9. Female hawksbill turtles can store sperm for 75 days.

10. Fidgeting is good for men's concentration but bad for women's.

11. Workers at Amazon's warehouse in Rugeley walk past a life-sized cardboard image of a blonde woman who says: "This is the best job I have ever had!"

Brain washing is alive and well.

Haribo sweets

12. Haribos are so-named because of founder Hans Riegel and his hometown Bonn.

13. Drone operators experience post-traumatic stress at the same rate as combat pilots.

14. Nigel Farage writes a column for Total Sea Fishing magazine.

That's a fishy story.

15. Monkeys avoid selfish people.

16. "Aunt" is the most popular pornographic search term in Syria.

Their aunties must be a lot younger than mine!

17. Plants lace their nectar with caffeine to keep pollinators loyal.

18. Sarah Greene used to bite Peter Duncan's ankles to distract him during Blue Peter cookery demos.

So that's what goes on behind those counters. I remember that Johnny Craddock used to crouch down behind the counter for a drink while his wife Fanny was cooking.

19. There are more deer in the UK now than at any time since the last Ice Age.

20. Some Norwegians feel strongly about whether firewood is stacked bark up or bark down.

21. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak belonged to a group of hackers and hobbyists called the Homebrew Computer Club.

22. At a Swedish dinner party you should never fold your napkin and put it on the table before the hostess has done so.

Bill Bailey

23. Bill Bailey bought a live owl in a Chinese restaurant to take it off the menu.

I like owls as well but if you took this to the nth degree?

24. Women really are satisfied by deep, husky voices.

25. Midsomer Murders is massive in Denmark.

26. "Lucifer" and "." (full stop) are banned baby names in New Zealand.

27. Using "don't" and "won't" correctly in online dating messages boosts response rates by more than a third.

28. The French call a walkie-talkie a talkie-walkie.

29. 6x8 is the multiplication children get wrong most while 9x12 takes longest.

30. Time doesn't fly when you're having fun (we just remember a lot more detail than normal after enjoying something so think it went quickly).

31. Babies learn to grimace in the womb so they can show they are unhappy after birth.

32. Sleep deprived men think women are more amorous than they actually are.

That explains a lot!

33. Until recently the US Navy had a requirement that all official messages be sent in capital letters.

34. "God's bones" was the sweariest expression in medieval times.

35. Qantas' Sydney to Dallas service is the world's longest commercial flight at 8,568 miles (13,790 km).

36. The French had no official word for French kissing… until now. It's "galocher".

37. The film Life of Brian remains banned in parts of Germany, but only on Good Friday.

38. Ampersand was once an actual letter which followed the letter Z in the Latin alphabet.

39. There are only two escalators in the entire state of Wyoming. Elevators are more commonly used.

40. The Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams is the most frequently misquoted song in the UK.

41. McDonald's drive-thru staff won't serve people on horseback.

Surely prejudice.

42. You could drive on the left or right in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Its a bit like that round London

43. The least common PIN code is 8068.

This is not some devious plot to break into your bank accounts.

44. Bookshop customers are six times more likely to buy romance or cookery titles when they can smell chocolate.

Bradley Wiggins at UCI Road World Championships on September 25, 2013 in Italy

45. Scientists still don't really know how bicycles work.

46. Women who fear being forced to marry abroad are advised to hide a spoon in their underwear.


47. There's a Kenyan tradition of running naked at night.

From what?

48. The first recorded incorrect use of the word "literally" was in 1769.

49. Chimpanzees and orangutans swim a form of the breast stroke.

50. Polyamorous people have invented a word to indicate the opposite feeling of jealousy - compersion.

51. Wearing camouflage clothing is an offence in Barbados.

Holiday makers be warned.

52. Bill Clinton was taught a jujitsu move by his aides to prevent Yassar Arafat hugging him for the cameras.

53. Cuban rescue workers use sniffer rabbits to find people in collapsed buildings.

At least when they've retired you can eat them!

54. The Soviet Union published a children's book of Stalin's five-year plan.

It was reportedly the best cure for infantile insomnia.

55. Some species of marsupials mate with such vigour and intensity that it kills them.

Brings new meaning to the phrase 'I'm f...ed'

56. Medieval French cookery book Le Viandier de Taillevent contains a recipe for plucking and basting a live chicken, which is then rocked to sleep and placed on a platter beside two roasted chickens.

An absolute cracker - watch my recipe page!

57. A universal law of urination means that elephants, cows, goats and dogs all take roughly 21 seconds to empty their bladders.

58. In Scrabble, a Benjamin is a three-letter extension to the front of a five-letter word.

59. A man's walking pace slows by 7% for wives and girlfriends but not for other women, and increases if walking with another man.

60. The word "get" went out of fashion in books between 1940 and the 1960s.

It's surprising how enduring education can be. I am still reluctant to use that word.

God Bless