By Gareth Edwards

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Roman Catholic Bears.

This is Blog Number 8 in the series that aims to answer every possibly question in the universe. So we’re well on the way I think.

Why does no one ever read the manual?
Manuals have never been part of the evolutionary process. Our ingenious ancestors worked out from first principles how to bring low the mighty mammoth by terrifying it with screams and crude implements until they drove it over a cliff to its death. So now as we take up the genetic baton of the human race it’s clear to us that we need no manual for the new DVD player. Simply by following our ancestral instincts we know we can terrify it with screams and crude implements and drive it over a cliff to its death.

Why is the sky blue?
This has long puzzled scientists but they now believe it is because the sky woke up one morning and its woman had done left it on its own.

To be or not to be?
By modern standards this is an incredibly poorly-devised piece of market research. We’d learn a lot more about what Hamlet’s feelings were re the relative merits of “being” and “not being” if Shakespeare had used a more nuanced scale of one to five, where 1 is for those who strongly agree with “being” and “5” is for those who strongly disagree, and would rather prefer make their own quietus with a bare bodkin. Hamlet could then have ticked “3” – “no strong opinion either way” – which would have made for a much shorter and clearer play.

Do bears live in the Vatican?
No. Bears have not lived in the Vatican since 1873. Until that date emissaries of all the Catholic animals lived within the Papal See, and attendance there was seen as a great honour for the creatures involved, although also an inconvenience for the Catholic fish. However, it had long been a tradition that the delegation of holy bears would leave the Vatican each day and make their way to the woods to perform certain key rituals specific to their order. As Rome grew and the surrounding area became deforested this became more and more impractical and the inhabitants of nearby orchards grew distressed at the site of the full Papal delegation of twelve large bears in the full regalia of the Catholic church squatting behind one small pear tree. At the same time relations with another species on the Vatican Vertebrate Council became strained following the unexplained disappearance of a senior Catholic salmon, and the Pope himself was forced to intervene. The following day as the bears left for their daily ritual His Holiness asked “Defaecantne ursi in silva?” and on receiving an answer in the affirmative he decreed the locks of the Vatican be changed and the doors be closed against the bears forever.

Thanks for all your questions and sorry if I haven't answered you this week. Do remember that the universe is continually expanding so do keep the questions coming or we'll fall behind.


  1. Very good - I thought the answer to 'to be or not to be' was especially funny/clever :)

    However should there not be a -ne or some such to make that Latin questioning? Could be wrong of course ;)

    Do claustrophobic closet gays experience any adverse effects from their situation?

  2. Yes, very good indeed.
    When is Jeremy Paxman?

  3. If it is true that many surnames originated as a result of one’s occupation (Miller, Carpenter, Smith, e.g.) what is the history of Vince Cable’s family? Surely they existed prior to the 20th century.

  4. Hi Maz and thanks for the Latin suggestion, which I have put in.

  5. Hehe! Thanks for taking it on board :) AND you pluralised the bears. Good chap! :)

    Oh my gosh I just realised Smith is also a profession name! Never worked that out before. Thanks Peggy. Silly me...haha...

  6. Who owns the gang of horses currently roaming free in the otherwise quiet cul-de-sacs of Ashford, Kent?

  7. Was two hundred pounds too much to spend on an operation on my daughter's geriatric rat?

  8. My surname is Battery. I have often wondered where it came from.