Monday, 29 September 2008

Now You See Me...

Scientists reckon that they have made a significant step forwards in making an invisibility cloak.

My first thought was that these scientists must have really cool job descriptions, which presumably would make them seem less boring at parties, and maybe even give them a chance of getting off with someone. "What do you do?", "I'm working on an invisibility cloak", or "I'm building a teleport". Except I bet they're so geeky that they say something like "I'm conducting research into the feasibility of utilising nanowire technology to synthesize materials with a negative refractive index over a subset of electromagnetic waves, including visible light.", and then go on to say more things like this for hours before they notice that the gorgeous blonde has long since done her own disappearing act.

I envy them. The best I've been able to come up with, "I'm a C programmer. Perhaps you'd like to malloc some space in your diary for a union of aligned structs?" doesn't work as a chat-up-line. Probably.

Anyway, at some point in the future we'll be able to buy clothes that make us invisible, and they'll want someone to help market their product, so I've come up with some selling points:
  • No More Ironing! People have been conned with "wash and wear" clothes in the past, and some still advocate not ironing shirts and drip-drying them. And then wondering why the carpet or the bottom of the wardrobe have gone mouldy. But with invisible clothes you really won't have to bother.
  • They'll Never Go Out of Fashion! No need to worry about colours, patterns, whether the cut is on the bias, or whatever. Invisible is the new black. Or should that be "The new black is Invisible"?
  • No More Diets! Since no-one can see you, why bother? This will really piss off the dieting industry, which will go bankrupt overnight, meaning that they will be forced to live in poverty on bread and water. This is what's known as divine justice.
  • Bad Hair Day? You Need Our Invisible Hat!
  • No More Ugly People! Julia Roberts will receive a complimentary Invisibility Mask.
The Invisible Blogger

Hopefully with all this preparation I'll be well placed to get a high-paid job as a consultant to what will be a multi-billion Pound industry. This will solve all my party problems, as the answer to "What do you do?" will be "I make shit loads of money and my Bentley's waiting outside. Shall we get the chauffeur to take us to your place or mine?". Game Over.

On the other hand, maybe I could make more money working for the Anti-Invisibility Lobby, which will be well-funded by the fashion industry, the dieting con-artists, hair stylists, cosmetic surgeons, paparazzi (and in the US the NRA). So, I've also come up with reasons against it:
  • Accidents: Imagine the carnage on the roads when drivers can't see pedestrians. And people will keep walking into one another.
  • Evil: Murderers, thieves and terrorists will be able to commit their gruesome crimes unwitnessed. Assuming they can find their victims, that is.
  • Extinction: Millennia of human attraction and reproduction will disappear, since people won't be able to see prospective mates.
  • Misery: Practical jokers will love it.
  • A Waste of Money: No-one actually needs this. Murders, thieves, terrorists and Julia Roberts can all do just as well with current balaclava technology. Or a brown paper bag with eye-holes.
I suspect that by the time this material comes out, no-one will want it. Because people will all be sitting isolated in their homes at their computers, and no-one will go out. Online shopping, gaming, chatting and blogging will see to that. And online we're all invisible, apart from flattering pictures allegedly of ourselves. In fact, we're doing this already.

Which I suppose means that this isn't going to be the thing that makes me millions. Oh well, another bright idea that's disappeared...

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Ink Blot

Jean Knee mentioned the famous ink blot test, where you're supposed to say what the ink blots look like. So just for her, I've found one in the shape of a cock.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Wordy Wednesday

The Slippery Slope

No, this isn't a slipper mountain, though I'd be surprised if the European Union doesn't have one somewhere. To this end, I checked Wiki, and was rather disappointed not to find a list of the world's major slipper exporters. In fact, the page is rather short and contains a paragraph entitled "Use by the Pope". Shock, Horror, he wears slippers! And red ones, at that!

Red Slippers

I wonder who found out this amazing fact? Did it make front page news in the tabloids? Did a breathless reporter phone their paper? "Hold the front page! I've got an exclusive on the Pope... Yeah, you know, the Catholic guy... P-o-p-e... No he's not a Rap artist... One of his housekeepers has been dishing the dirt... Can you wire me 10,000 Euros ASAP, please... 15,000 if you want her to pose topless..."

Anyway, it's occurred to me that I might be on the slippery slope to becoming a total recluse if I don't get out more, so I'm planning to go to the pub on a more regular basis, like I used to before I got a computer and came across you lot. I've never been very sociable anyway - in social situations, approaching someone I don't know and talking to them is almost as scary as lying in a bathtub full of live spiders.

I went last week for the first time in months, and people seemed pleased to see me. Not a lot changes, but someone else had died. So another motivation for going more often is to have a chance to talk to the regulars before they snuff it. Or before I do, I suppose. Life - that's another slippery slope...

More Slippery Stuff

With all this talk of tabloids, I thought I'd have a look at the Sun's website to see what their news headlines are. Since I'm not allowed to read British papers or news, I've not seen the Sun for years. However, 2 seconds on their site was enough to find a story about some celebrity who has had a boob job.

The "Shock Horror" element of it is that she apparently forgot to buy bigger tops, so her newly enhanced assets are in danger of slipping out. Of course, in reality, there's no way she was going to spend good money getting her breasts enlarged, only to keep them hidden. And the whole story is really there so that the "readers" can pretend to be reading the article rather than drooling over the picture. Before you ask, Dan, here's a link. It's better than Spongebob, though not by much.

I wonder if the Sun have any jobs going? It seems like easy work...

Monday, 22 September 2008

H Σταχτοπούτα redux

Long-time sufferers, er, I mean, readers, will no doubt remember my post in January about τη Σταχτοπούτα, or Cinderella.

I've just finished watching a Greek TV series called something like "If Only You Knew". It's about two policemen who are watching the office of a big-time criminal from a flat across the road. Which would be very boring, except for the fact that the in-laws of one of the policemen, Tasos, live two floors beneath this office, and that the father-in-law is insane (he thinks Greece is still run by a military dictatorship), and Tasos' wife is sort of not having an affair with the criminal, who can't get it up, and has got some viagra, except he dropped it and the insane father-in-law took it and spent a happy but unexpected afternoon pleasing the mother-in-law. Oh and did I mention that the criminal's brain-dead footballer son is engaged to the gorgeous sister-in-law (Katerina), with whom the other policeman falls in love with, except that he's pretending to be a doctor treating the FIL, but... ?
The plot is slightly complicated. I've not mentioned Tasos' nymphomaniac neighbour who pretends to be his wife at a dinner party that should have been hosted by his chain-smoking, constantly swearing origami-obsessed boss, except his wife has chucked him out...

All this and more in only 26 episodes. Your average soap opera would take years to cover this amount of material. What's great for me is that I now know the Greek for "Fuck", "Shit", "Wanker", etc. It's very educational.

Anyway, in one episode, the footballer son of the master criminal was sitting in the hospital chatting to Antoni's ex-girlfriend Natasa, and they got talking about Cinderella.
The wonderful mezzo soprano
Conchita Supervia, who played
La Cenerentola in the 1920s

He said that he'd always had a problem with this particular fairytale. At midnight, all the magic stuff changes back to normal - the chariot becomes a pumpkin, the footmen become mice, etc, etc.


Why don't the glass slippers change back???

This observation makes Natasa think that the thick footballer is really a genius, which in turn means that he won't be spending the night alone, which in turn means that he doesn't end up marrying Katerina, and...

Sorry, I got carried away there. Back to Cinderella. What's really puzzling me, is not so much the fact that the fairytale has a plot hole big enough to drive a JCB through, but...

How come none of the pedantic children we tell this story to have noticed???

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Cross My Palm With Silver

Whilst perusing today's "Simerini" paper, I happened to look at the horoscopes. Now, I know that I shouldn't doubt the soothsaying abilities of Maria Eleutheriou without waiting to see what the rest of the day brings, but I suspect that her prediction for Aquarius that "Love gives another dimension to your day" is unlikely to be very accurate, especially as I'm not planning to go anywhere.

However, Scorpios should perhaps heed the paper's warning not to fall into temptation (which Ms Eleutheriou tells us will be difficult to resist) and endanger a stable relationship, especially if they've recently been showered with "gifts" by a tall, older man. (okay, she didn't actually mention that last bit).

Anyway, I think I can do much better, so here is my prediction. This is provided as a service to my readers, and there's no charge, but you are welcome to send me money, preferably in the form of precious metals, given the state of the economy. I'm not going to abuse my supernatural powers and frighten you with what'll happen if you don't.

My Prediction and Advice for This Weekend


Things will not go entirely to plan this weekend. There will be problems involving people close to you. Try to face these with your usual good humour, imagination and violence.


Beware of people trying to swindle you - in particular, I see an email which you should avoid answering. You will wish that you had more money, but do not let this tempt you into doing anything drastic, such as robbing a bank. If you do, you will find that they don't have any either.


Although I know exactly how your love life will pan out this weekend, I can assure you that telling you would not help matters. All I'm able to say is that murder is not the answer. Not this weekend, anyway.


Don't bother - even if you buy a ticket, you won't win the jackpot. However, if you insist on ignoring this advice, I can reveal that the number 1 will be of significance.

Lucky Colour: Brownish blue with just a hint of fluorescent pink.

Today's Fortune Cookie (courtesy of my computer): "Life is to you a dashing and bold adventure."

There you go. You won't even need to get a Chinese meal this weekend.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Wordy Wednesday: The Motion Picture

I'm going to write about my day. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I didn't get abducted by aliens or a group of desperate nymphomaniacs, nor did I get blown to Oz by a hurricane, (or by a group of desperate nymphomaniacs, for that matter).

This is might be a problem, because when I come to sell the film rights of my autobiography, the Hollywood producers might want a bit more than "Wednesday: Went to work (avoiding the dog muck on the path). Wrote some rubbish in my blog". Nevertheless, I've adapted my experiences for the Big Screen.

I haven't yet decided what type of film I want them to make, so I've prepared some alternatives, all of which begin with my walk to work through the park.


Quick-cut shots of: Yellow tape, the body, squad cars. BOV walking towards the scene, taking off his sunglasses

BOV: Okay, Doc, what we got?

Doc: Male, mid-30s, no ID, though his cell phone was found smashed 2 metres away.

BOV (bending over the corpse): Hmmmm. Definitely some high velocity spatter.

Doc: Yes, probably from sea gulls, or pigeons, judging by the texture and taste. I've sent samples to the lab.

BOV: And the cause of death?

Doc: Well, from the positioning, and the injuries sustained to his knees and elbows, I'd say that the victim was doing star jumps when he slipped on a dog turd and sustained a fatal blow to the head.

BOV: I see. Get that shit analysed, then we'll put out an APB on the dog. Cleaning up this town's going to be harder that I thought...

Le Parc

Long, lingering shots of a sunny, Autumnal day in the park. Children are playing, lovers are laughing and occasionally punching one another. Brian Le Breton has paused to watch them, eventually sitting on a bench, a smile here, a frown there showing his reactions to all that is going on. The reactions of a detached observer, not part of this melee.

[Half an hour later]

BLB sees a woman walking purposefully along the path. He stops being detached and starts looking interested. Their eyes meet, he looks meaningfully. She frowns and averts her eyes. He sticks his leg out. She trips and lands spreadeagled on the path.

BLB (picking up her handbag): Excusez moi, Madame.

Woman (starts to get up and takes her handbag): Merci, Monsieur.

BLB (shaking his head despairingly and pointing at piles of shit on the path by way of explanation): La Merde de chien. (he motions for her to sit down).

BLB pulls out a half-eaten sandwich from his rucksack, tearing it in two, and gallantly offering her the bit without the teeth marks. She takes it, still shaking from her ordeal.

Over the shared sandwich, washed down by a flask of Chateau Pisse des Chats 1992 (which she finds in her handbag whilst looking for her lipstick), they discuss philosophy and life. She explains that to be eternal, love must be abstract and unfulfilled. BLB argues (without success) that eternity wouldn't begrudge them a quick fifteen minutes of fulfilment.

[two and a half hours later]

They get up from the park bench and walk away in opposite directions.


The Day After

BOV, hung over from a night at the pub, stumbles through the park on his way to work, when all of a sudden there is a blinding flash.

Long shot of mushroom cloud, and Britain being devastated by a nuclear explosion.

Everything is covered with white dust. All is silent. Camera pans across a scene of destruction. Cars on the road are stationary.

BOV crawls out from behind a large fallen tree. He dusts himself down: I knew I shouldn't have stopped for that Chinese on the way home last night...

Michael Caine (off camera): You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

Based on a True Story (some details may have been altered slightly for cinematic purposes). And yes, these events happened on Tuesday, not Wednesday, but it's not called Wordy Tuesday, is it?

Saturday, 13 September 2008

It's the Thought That Counts

I knew it was someone's birthday today, but it took me a while to remember the details. This is because your memory starts to go when you reach your 30s

A big birthday - a real achievement. I did some checking, and found that it is indeed someone's birthday.

George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury.

No that can't be right. I'm sure that the person I was thinking of doesn't walk round dressed like that.

Anyway, it's not your birthday, everyday, so I thought I'd better get you a present.

I wondered about a bouquet of flowers, but I didn't know where to send them. And dead vegetable matter wasn't really what I was looking for.

What about some live animals? thirty sheep? This seemed like a good idea until I realised that I don't know anything about sheep, so I'd probably be sold some dud ones.

No-one ever complains about something nice to eat, so in the end I decided to settle for a cake.

It took me a while to find one, though, because I had one difficult requirement.

Apart from not eating it before I got it home, that is.

Something that ordinary cakes just couldn't do.

Not at your age, anyway.

It had to be big enough to fit all your candles on.


Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Wordy Wednesday: Don't forget your 11 Dimensional Glasses

Today, as you no doubt know, an experiment has started 150 metres under Switzerland to recreate the conditions around the time of the "Big Bang" (or "Beeng Bank" as Emilia calls it).

As usual the anti-science brigade, who believe that cell-phone masts give out mystical death rays, were predicting (on their mobiles, no doubt) that this experiment would precipitate the End of the World, either because (a) they're going to make another Beeng Bank, and therefore unleash catastrophic forces, or (b) There's a probability that some black holes will be produced. The latter is apparently correct, but scientists tell us they're nothing to worry about. After all, will anyone notice if Switzerland gets sucked into a black hole?

Predicting the End of the World is a thankless task. Either you're wrong, in which case you look pretty stupid, or you're right, but there's no one left to say "I told you so" to.

There was a physics professor on the telly explaining it all. Or rather, mystifying Emilia and her audience. In the space of 5 minutes, he'd progressed from cosmic forces to dark matter, to talking about 11-dimensional space. All of which is way over my head, so if you were expecting a science lesson, you're out of luck.

Anyway, the experiment started at 10.30am in one European timezone or other, and we're still here. Though as winter draws nearer, it's getting harder to tell whether or not we're in a black hole.

I'm glad, except that I can't get out of writing Wordy Wednesday by claiming that a black hole ate my post. Bugger...

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A Long Way Down

Today, Class, we're going begin with some geography. Chris can skip the next paragraph if he likes, but for my leftpondian readers, you're getting a short lesson on the English Channel.

This is the sea that separates us from Europe, and which means that although we are part of the European Union, we are not Europeans. It also separates us from a hostile nuclear power (the French), though unfortunately it is alarmingly narrow in places - only 21 miles. A few years ago some clown thought it was a good idea to build a tunnel ("The Chunnel") there, thus driving a tgv through our moat.

Anyway, people have been crossing the Channel in a variety of different ways, since Julius Caesar did it in 55BC. In 1875 an Englishman swam to France. Of course, nowadays if you want to go abroad but don't have a lot of money there are budget airlines.

1875 was also the first year that someone flew across. In a balloon. In 1909 Louis Bleriot did it in a powered aircraft.

Now it's the turn of a Swiss pilot, Yves Rossy to make a pioneering flight. He's going to strap two rocket powered wings to his back. The only way to steer is to move his body in different ways. If he gets cramp, or develops a nervous twitch, he's toast. Live on TV in 120 countries.

Now, I've often said that people who fly in balloons, or hand-gliders are mad, and that I only ever want to go on a powered flight. I've now got to qualify this statement. I only ever want to go on a powered flight where I'm sitting in a seat, and there is steering equipment. Not where a thoughtless movement of your head leads to a sharp left turn and Spain.

Luckily, Monsieur Rossy has been practising. As a pilot, he says that safety is paramount. Though on the Emilia Show last night he also described the feeling of exhilaration when you're hurtling towards the ground and suddenly arch your back and turn, seconds before impact. I sort of know what he means - I went on the Pepsi Max at Blackpool Pleasure Beach once.

Though that's only a 200-foot drop, rather than 7,000 ft, and none of the videos I could find do the rollercoaster experience justice. I hope that Rocket Man takes a camera with him, as it's the only way most of us will get close to experiencing his flight.

I also hope he makes it, but my bet is that it'll be rained off. It is the English Channel, after all.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Great Detective, Part II

Continued from Part I

After a dramatic pause, the Great Detective began.

"Before I outline the solution, let me clear something up. The victim's final gasp of 'Mary' tells me that she was the mother of his illegitimate daughter Violet. Sir John was trapped in a hopeless marriage, and finally found love in the arms of his devoted cook. Perhaps he should have married her after his divorce, but my guess is that he liked her cooking too much." Mary smiled.

Another dramatic pause, and then the Great Detective began properly.

"The key to this crime is not so much a smoking gun, as a smoking cigar. Or rather a missing cigar. There must be one, because an empty packet also disappeared. Violet here says that she did not throw away such a packet.

"Why steal a cigar? The reason is simple. The murderer poisoned the cigar. Not the port. After Sir John's painful and horrible death, he or she put some poison in the port glass and substituted a clean cigar for the old one. If there had been more than one left in the box when he or she planted the poison, they could have stolen one then, but because there wasn't, it was necessary to open a new packet.

"But why did the murder want it to appear that the port was poisoned? Because he or she was not anywhere near the house when the port was poured and served.

"The only one of you who could possibly benefit from this subterfuge is you!", and he pointed to...

... Sergeant Plode. The policeman started to protest, but the Great Detective cut him off. "You had the opportunity to tamper with the evidence before it went to the lab. And you had the second oldest motive in the book. Money.

"The only people to go into the solicitor's office when he was on holiday were the burglar, and you. You looked at the will, and discovered it's contents. You then started to court Violet here, with the intention of marrying the rich heiress. You are engaged, aren't you?"

"We have an Understanding, sir.", said Violet quietly.

"You must be mad!", shouted Sergeant Plode, "To even think I would have anything to do with this. Vi, don't believe him!"

But Violet clearly couldn't bear to look at him.

"But", continued the Great Detective, "it was something else that put me on to you. Remember that I too was at the Chief Inspector's party. And when you recieved the phone call about the crime, you immediately said that there had been a 'Murder'. And yet, Sir John was not dead. The doctor was still trying to save him."

Sergeant Plode looked stunned. "But, I'm sure the message said 'murder'. In the confusion and all..."

But Violet just shook her head. "You are a brave and courageous young lady.", said the Great Detective, "a fitting heir for Sir John. Now, if you will permit me, I shall take you to dinner, away from all this grief"

And so ended the Mystery of the Poisoned Rubber Johnny, and so began a great romance...

And for the first time ever, The Great Detective missed his train.


A year later, the Great Detective and his bride stood on a hilltop in the French Riveria, admiring the breathtaking view. "You really do take after your father", he said.

"In what way, darling?"

"That night when he got drunk and told you about the contents of the will, the first thing you thought to do was to contact me, and ask me to plan the perfect murder. No-one else would have done that."

"But I knew that I needed help, and that if anyone could do this, it was a Great Detective. You were the clever one. That business with the cigar, when all the time the poison was in the port that I carried to my father. And staging the robbery at the solicitors. And getting me to come on to that ghastly policeman. Ugh!"

"You played the part beautifully. Even saying on the phone that there had been a 'Murder'. It's almost a pity that he won't be facing trial."

"Why not?", asked Violet.

"I couldn't let that happen", explained the Great Detective, "He knew too much."

"He knew nothing."

"He knew that he was innocent. And that was too much. Apparently he hanged himself in his cell. The final proof of his guilt. He did have a little help, of course..."

"Darling, you think of everything!", she said admiringly, "So now only you and I know."

That was the last thing she said before she tumbled headlong down the steep slope to her death.

"Well, only I, actually.", smiled the Great Detective. So now another crime was about to be solved. The tragic murder of his bride, killed by the jealous hotel receptionist, while, he, the Great Detective was 50 miles away.

He wondered if he would ever get bored of his life of crime. People were so stupid. They thought he was a genius for "solving" all those crimes. That was easy, since he'd planned them all. The planning was the difficult bit. People would never know just how clever he really was...

Saturday, 6 September 2008

The Great Detective

Source: PD Photo

Sir John reflected on his day. He had achieved nothing, what with all that business with the good for nothing gardener. Though he'd denied taking the missing silver. Maybe he couldn't trust Stevens either. He was always a shifty sort. And as for Jayne, well, he just wished that she didn't take after her mother quite so much. She was certainly not a suitable heir. If only her mother had stayed around long enough to give him a son. Bitch! Still, there was...

He opened a drawer, and removed a cigar, throwing the empty box back in, lit it, savoured the scent, then reached for the port, and took a sip. Just right. Suddenly, he looked up, a surprised expression on his face...


The waiter whispered into his ear urgently. "I'm sorry, Chief Inspector, but there's been a murder. Sir John, our local bigwig. I'll have to leave straight away. It's a two hour drive, you know.", announced Seargent Plode, putting down his glass and cocktail sausage, and rushing off.


A ticking grandfather clock. The hands were almost on 7 o'clock, and the bell was just about to strike, when a loud ringing was heard in the hall. Footsteps. The front door opened. "Ah, everyone is waiting for you in the drawing room, sir. Please come in."

The Great Detective entered the drawing room. There were five people seated around the long oak table. One of them rose. "Hello, sir. Thankyou for coming." said Sergeant Plode.

The Great Detective nodded and sat down, motioning for the Butler to do so too. "We've really got to be quick. I'm catching the 8.15 train back to London, which gives me about 55 minutes. Sergeant, a run-down of the salient points, please."

The Sergeant cleared his throat, in the time-honoured tradition of the Force, and began.

"Sir John Percivale, Condom magnate. Known as 'Rubber Johnny', though not within earshot of the man. Two nights ago he died of strychnine poisoning. I was called to the scene, which was in this room. There was a part-smoked cigar and a glass of port on the table. Our lab found traces of poison in the glass, but none on the cigar."

"What about the wine, and the other cigars in the case?"

"Well, sir, there was no poison in the wine bottle. We didn't check the other cigars, since there was no poison on the one he was smoking."

A young lady, dressed in a maid's outfit, spoke. "Excuse me sir, there was something strange about the cigars. I only noticed this morning when I was cleaning the room." she went to a drawer, and removed a packet of cigars, handing them to the Great Detective. It was full, apart from one. "The master only smoked one a day, I'm sure I've not had to throw any empty packets away lately. He always used to put the empty ones back in the drawer, you see."

"So he may have had company that evening, and offered them a cigar. Interesting, thankyou", said the Great Detective, "Now, Sergeant, continue!"

The policeman cleared his throat once more. "I ascertained, through further questioning and..."

"Please Sergeant, I said I needed to wrap this up quickly!" interrupted the Great Detective. "Just the Facts!"

"Stevens, the butler, poured the glass of port in the kitchen at around 6pm. He always did this to allow the wine to breathe. Then he left, as it was his night off, and went to the local hostelry, where witnesses attest that he stayed until I sent for him just after 10pm.

"Vi, I mean Violet, the maid had been in the village visiting her aunt. She returned at 6.50, and took the port to the Drawing Room at 7pm sharp. Sir John was already there. She left him and went back to the kitchen, where she stayed.

At 7.30pm, noises were heard coming from here, and Violet and Mary went to investigate. They found Sir John collapsed on the floor, having convulsions. Violet telephoned for the doctor. He arrived at 7.45pm, and at 8pm, he told Violet to call for the police, since he believed that Sir John was suffering classic Strychnine poisoning symptoms. He did what he could, but was unable to save him.

I arrived at 10pm - I had to drive from a dinner party at the Chief Constable's in the city. But then you know that, since you were there, sir."

"Cause and Time of death?"

"I've already said it was poisoning, and the autopsy confirmed this. The doctor noted the time of death at 9.45pm."

"Did the victim say anything, name his killer, perhaps?"

"He did say one name, sir."

"And? Come on!"
"Mary, sir. The cook."

A large middle-aged lady, obviously the cook, said nothing, just stared down at the table.

"Mary says that she was in the kitchen between 6.30 until they heard the commotion. Violet and Jayne, Sir John's daughter, were with her." He indicated a young woman in her 20's, heavily made-up and dressed as if she was intending to spend the night on a street corner.

"We was talking about Doug, the gardener.", she explained.

Sergeant Plode took up the story again. "Doug was sacked by Sir John earlier that day, after I had discovered a stash of cannibis in the potting-shed. The young man has been responsible for several thefts in the region, and I've suspected him of dealing drugs, but I've never been able to get enough evidence. Anyway, I had stopped by here at about 4pm on my way to the Chief Constable's, and told him the bad news. Apparently, he summoned the scoundrel, and gave him his marching orders."

"Did he leave immediately?", asked the Great Detective.

"He went down to the kitchen at about 5.30pm and had a conversation with Stevens. Stevens says he was still there when he left at 6, but he'd gone by the time Mary went in at 6.30."

"I need to know one more thing, and then I think we're done.", said the Great Detective, "What does Sir John's will say?"

"Well, sir, this was a surprise. Sir John left the Condom factory to Jayne. Says in the will that he thought it was appropriate to leave it to, beggin' your pardon miss, a tart."

"Bastard!", said Jayne.

The Sergeant glared at her and continued. "However, he left the house and all his money to his illegitimate daughter, Violet."

"A surprise, you say? Who knew about this?"

"Only the solicitor, who, by the way, only came back from 2 weeks in Barbados yesterday. He did say, though, that his file on Sir John was in a mess, and he believes that someone else must have been having a peek. I should mention that his office was burgled last week, and that I strongly suspect Doug was responsible. He's had his eye on Violet, too, by all accounts."

"That's a lie!" shouted a scruffy man in his 30s, "I didn't touch no filing. I can't even read!"

There was silence in the room for a minute, and then the Great Detective spoke.

"Thank you. It's obvious which one of you committed the murder, and why."

Everyone looked round at one another anxiously.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Sexual Imprinting and Beauty Tips

I've been reading about the results of research carried out at the delightfully named University of Pecs, in Hungary. A survey of 67 Hungarian couples showed that the women all looked like their mothers in law, and the men all resembled their FILs. (See "Hot Moms and Sexual Imprinting")

They reckon that people use their parents' appearance as a yardstick when finding a partner. So a man's ideal woman is someone who looks like their mother. They're working all of this out scientifically by measuring things like the distance between their noses and their eyes, the length (and number?) of chins, etc.

Those of you who are married might be slightly disturbed to learn that your spouse chose you because he or she thinks you look just like your MIL/FIL, but these latest results add more weight to this theory.

I know some of you have a bit of a thing for Brad Pitt, despite my indisputible arguments about my superiority to him, so as a service to those readers, I have found the following photographs, which you might like to show to your cosmetic surgeon. This is what you're aiming to look like to be in with a chance:

For Jean Knee, here is Father Al's Mum:

So I don't need a crystal ball to know that Helena is going to marry someone good looking. Just a mirror...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Wordy Wednesday

I was going to call this post "High Heels and Anal Sex", but since it's Wednesday I won't. On days like this, though, I'm glad I don't have any site meters telling me about visitors to the blog, as I think I'd rather not know.

High Heels

On the Emilia Hour last night (back after her month off), there was a report about a High Heels race. I think it was in Australia, but I didn't catch the name of the country, and couldn't find it on the Web. How feeble is that? Apparently, they also have them in DC and Russia.

It amazes me that they don't have fatalities in races like this, but then it amazes me that anyone manages to walk in heels at all. Maybe it's easier than it looks - I've never tried. I'd have thought, though, that the women's lib movement would have done better in the 1960s to have been burning heels rather than bras (not that I've got any problem with them doing the latter too). Or don't liberated women wear them (heels, I mean)?


Years ago I remember hearing about people who looked up an obscure word in the dictionary, then made a point of using it in normal conversation that day, or week. So for example, one might talk about the terrible negative equity in, say, Moss Side, Manchester, because houses there are likely to be subject to floccinaucinihilipilification in the current economic climate. That would have made a great last word on Chris' blog. Oh well.

Anyway, I took delivery of a brand new dictionary yesterday. It's a Cypriot-Greek-English dictionary, which I think qualifies just about every entry as obscure, as far as a lot of people are concerned. Cypriot is a dialect of Greek that preserves some Byzantine words and forms, as well as useful Turkish phrases for dice rolls in backgammon.

When they come to make the Cypriot Reservoir Dogs, they'll be thankful that the language has a word to describe someone who's had their left ear severed, though apparently this is more often used to talk about goats. I don't know why they cut their ears off...

I'm not sure I fully believe the English translations, though I suppose they're meant to explain the meaning rather than what you would actually say in English. Nevertheless, there is liberal use of the "F" and "C" words, with sexual connotations all over the place.

Here is an example. Chefalonno apparently means "to raise one's head, to grow, to become independent, to grow a stalk, to have an erection, to look after the clematis". I bet the last one about the clematis is something dodgy as well that's been literally translated.

You do have to remember that this dialect has been used by generations of villagers and farmers, who tend to talk about earthy things. And that in 1400 pages you're going to find some odd things.

Anyway, if you're looking for a challenge, try managing to slip "middle finger used for anal sex" into, em, a conversation...

Monday, 1 September 2008

Workers of the World...

We've finally reached the official end of summer, with the start of a new month. They have to have it at the end of a month, so that we notice, since the weather has been rotten all "summer." I should probably have shouted "rabbit", or is that on the first Tuesday of the month?

Anyway someone, who shall remain nameless (for the time being), emailed me to gloat about Americans getting the Monday off when the rest of us poor sods had to struggle in to work.

So I checked my calendar, and indeed, folks in the US are celebrating "Labor" Day. (In Canada there is a similar festival called "Labour Day, eh?"). Apparently the one thing that people don't do on labour day, is, erm, labour, i.e. work. This accounts for the lack of blogging activity, though it didn't stop Bee being first on Chris's blog, which I think was a bit unsporting when she should be lying around taking it easy (at least until I'd got a comment in).

I can hardly complain about the concept of people having days off - it's all very civilised. I think, though, that we should reconsider the names of our holidays and make them a bit less, well, boring. We call most of ours "bank holidays", and lots of us get time off who don't work in banks. They can't be celebrations of banks, surely?

Suggestions for renaming days would be welcomed. I'm going to start by proposing that Americans call today "Idle Day". Not only does the name conjure up a picture of blissful inactivity, but it could double as a celebration of Monty Python. And then we'd have to celebrate it in Britain as well. Which would be an end to gloating emails.

Happy Idle Day to my North American readers, and anyone else who's been lucky enough to have a lazy day. I would have posted this greeting earlier, but some of us had to go to work...