By Gareth Edwards

Friday 30 January 2015

The Bard's Flying Pig and the Uber-Spectrum

Ah, there you are! I haven’t done one of these for some time, and all the while the Universe has been expanding, and so I’m afraid we’ve probably got rather behind in explaining it. Here nevertheless are the meticulously-imagined answers to some of your recent, and indeed unrecent, questions.

Mike asked Why don't the Oscars have Best Director and Best Directress awards like they do for actors and actresses?

It’s a little known fact that back in Hollywood’s hay-day there were 1,317 categories of Oscar. Some of the now-vanished awards included Best Serious Director, Best Lightweight Director, Best Featherweight Director and Best Bare-Knuckle Director. Oscars were also available for Best Boy, Best Girl, Best Movie Pitch, Best Movie Bitch, Punctuality, Effort, and Make-Up in a Foreign Language. By 1929 pretty much everybody in Los Angeles had at least twenty or thirty Oscars and Hollywood was wracked by Award inflation. There are even stories of motion-picture professionals needing a wheelbarrow of Oscars simply to get a seat in an average Los Angeles restaurant. The Federal Reserve stepped in, and the Oscars were drastically cut back to the bare bones 24 categories that people really cared about. Categories like “Best Short Documentary” and “Best Sound Editing” that make the Oscars the essential night of TV viewing my wife believes it is.

Nance asked: are there any colours unaccounted for in the traditional colours of the rainbow?
The 1960s spawned an interest in mind expansion of all kinds, and none more so than in the area of colour. Doctor Iggy Farben, professor of advanced Tuning in, Turning on and Dropping out at the Woodstock Institute of Sticking It to the Man was a pioneer in his field. He believed that there was literally no limit to the colours the human brain could perceive if only it sat in the middle of his aforementioned field and had some of his mushrooms. Farben posited the existence of an alternative rainbow, a rainbow perpendicular to the normal one visible to “like, you know, the man”. Farben's was a rainbow containing colours you couldn’t see, but that under the right conditions you could still really, you know, dig. This was Farben’s “hyper-rainbow”,  containing colours from the uber-spectrum: Ultra Yellow, Ultra Blue, Ultra Magnolia, Uber Orange, Super Green, Infra Mauve, Infra Pink, Infra Tartan, Infra Penny and Infra pound. Farben died a broken man when the 60s, a decade he believed would never end, came to an end, and overnight his entire work became infra dig. 

Stu asked What’s the difference between a herb and a spice?

A herb is a leaf or stem of a plant used to add flavour in cooking. A spice is where a South African parks their car.

Grazlewacky asked: why are flying pigs the brunt of so many statements of incredulity?

The English language is full of sayings we hear time and again without ever considering their origin. “Neither here nor there”, “not that way inclined”, “too much of a good thing”, “for God’s sake, darling, for once in your life can you not reverse without going up on the kerb?” Familiar phrases that make up our every day conversations. But it might surprise you to know that each and every one of these are actually to be found in the plays of Mister William Shakespeare.

The same goes for that expression of incredulity “pigs have wings”. This comes not from one of the bard’s more popular works, but from his less widely-known and even less widely-admired Children’s Plays written for the financially and critically disastrous Globe4Kidz between 1598 and a bit later in 1598, under the artistic directorship of history’s least popular actor manager, and inventor of the interval snack, Sir Costly Chockice.

A copy of Time Out from that year lists works such as Shakespeare’s The Billy Goats Gruff, parts one, two and three; Goldilocks and the three Bears of Verona; and John Ford’s controversial ‘Tis Pity She’s a Horse. And of course the play which concerns us here – perhaps anticipating a later, greater work - Hamlet, Pig of Denmark, starring Chockice himself in the title role.

The text is now lost to us, but scholars believe the plot consisted of Claudius, a butcher, wanting to make Hamlet into sausages, and Hamlet wanting to avenge his father’s death but being hampered by metaphysical angst and also by being a pig. In the final climactic scene Hamlet turns to the audience and asks them to tell Claudius he has flown away, and then hides off-stage. Hearing the news of his quarry’s supposed escape from the audience Claudius replies “Pigs have no wings”. The boys and girls counter “Oh yes they do!” and a bitter row ensues.

The dénoument was intended to be a coup de théâtre with Chockice magically taking to the air in his pantomime pig costume, an effect achieved by carefully firing him out of a trebuchet over the heads of the audience and into a waiting safety net. Sadly the antipathy to Chockice within the company was such at the opening performance he was fired over the walls of the Globe4Kidz and into the middle of the Thames, and the play was never performed again. Incidentally this is also the origin of the expression “ham acting”.

Well, I’m afraid we’ve reached the arbitrary limit I’ve just set for this instalment, but do ask a question in the space below if you feel in need of Some Kind of Explanation and we'll get the Universe explained in no time.

Friday 30 May 2014

The Zombie Scourge and a Very Leggy Python

Welcome to another installment of the blog that attempts to explain everything in the whole universe one question from a member of the public at a time.

Nance asked: I've read that the sandwich was named for its inventor, the Earl of Sandwich. Was he really the first?
The Earl of Sandwich was not, of course, the first person in history to eat a sandwich. He was the first filling. Medicine in Georgian times was primitive, painful and dangerously Latin, and so the wealthy elite sought other ways to alleviate illness. This lead to the flourishing of spas where the affluent indisposed would flock to be cured without the help of a doctor by taking the waters, and thus towns such as Leamington, Cheltenham and Bath grew phenomenally rich. The small seaside town of Sandwich was not so lucky, and its Earl looked on the prosperity of the spa towns with envious eyes. But while his own town had no hot spring it did have a larger than average bakery, and so the lateral-thinking Earl set about luring the peaky but loaded to Sandwich to “take the bread”. A typical treatment involved the patient lying for hours at a time between two giant slices from a white split tin loaf, while for the more seriously-ill the Earl recommended a whole-meal bloomer, with a poultice of mustard or possibly mayonnaise. But at the height of his fame disaster struck when the Earl, attempting to prove the medical benefits of bread and cheese at higher temperatures had himself placed inside an eight-foot wide Welsh Rarebit and put under a giant grill. He became the toastie of the town.

Sarah Pgce Can you get WiFi in Plato's cave?
Classical scholars believe that Plato wrote extensively about wireless broadband and they presume that he would have posited that a paradigm of WiFi existed in a state of perfection forever beyond the reach of direct human experience. Sadly we will never know for certain as he found it impossible to post his blog about this from his cave, where the WiFi coverage was invariably awful.

Stu Beale  How did the first snake to evolve not having legs decide this was a good idea?
And since I may have missed one in my question, do hyphens matter?
The earliest snake ever to be found in the fossil record was a python, but unlike modern pythons this prehistoric specimen was a short, stubby animal with twenty muscular legs. It was known as the Twenty-Foot Python. But a freak mutation in the snake’s DNA lead to it losing the hyphen thus turning it into the long, limbless reptile we know today.

Nick asked Where are you going for your holidays?
Cornwall. It’s possible this wasn’t intended as a question for the blog but sometimes it’s hard to know where having a chat ends and academic inquiry begins.

And now in a new feature that reflects our efforts to keep SKOE at the forefront of cynical populism we've asked a leading British political figure to answer our final question this week: 

Peggy Tryton asked Zombie apocalypse - yes or no?
Well exactly and I’m hearing this on doorsteps up and down the land because in spite of what the liberal elite with their facts and information will tell you zombies are a real and growing problem both in my imagination and in the imagination of the many people I’ve frightened. For instance let me finish please if a group of zombies moved in next door to me I’d be worried and that’s not racist actually because these zombies are white except for the occasional greeny-grey bit and more to the point I’ve researched this anecdotally and on Netflix and it’s is practically a fact that of the human brains feasted on by ghastly blank-eyed abominations 97% are down to zombies and yes certainly the other 3% are Heston Blumenthal but my point is that decent hard working people alive in Britain today never voted for this and that’s why we’re the only party brave enough to ask the question Zombie Apocalypse Yes or No and while we’re at it Climate Change is mainly down to gay marriage.

That’s all for now, but do post a question in the comments below and we’ll get the Universe explained in its entirely before you can say Jack Robinson a billion times incredibly slowly.

Thursday 30 January 2014

Revolutionary Hamsters and a Two-Hundred Ton Pie

Welcome to the blog that sets out to answer every question you could possibly have about anything ever. Because the universe won’t explain itself.

@tommo121 asked: All the time we hear about the success of certain fruit-named technology companies such as Apple and Blackberry. What ever happened to their less-successful competitors?
To observe that electronic devices are named after fruit is to tell only part of the story. Since the early days of computing there has been fierce disagreement over whether to name these futuristic machines with cool sounding combinations of letters and numbers or to call them after things that are nice to have for pudding. Alan Turing pioneered the latter approach, naming his enigma-code-busting machine a Bombe after the popular chocolate and ice-cream dessert. IBM dominated the business mainframe market in the 50s with its two-hundred ton Lemon-Meringue Pie, and the high water-mark was perhaps Hewlett Packard’s delivery to the Pentagon in 1962 of its awe inspiring defence computer Death-By-Chocolate. By the 80s though the market was dominated by electronic gizmos with more lettery-numbery names like ZX80, TI52 and R2D2, and sadly products like Tandy’s hand-held Banana and Custard or Sinclair’s Spotted Dick languished on the shelf. But just as the health conscious 21st century has seen fruit come to the fore as a dessert, so today’s fruit-named technology is in the vanguard and the future market looks set to be dominated by products such as the Apple iPie, Blackberry’s Personal Crumble and Amstrad’s possibly ill-judged No Thank You I’ll Have the Cheeseboard.

Nance asked: Has it always been cats vs. dogs in the battle for human affections?
The sad truth of the matter is that it should never have been cats versus dogs, as for centuries the two species had happily shared their hobbies of ruining furniture and licking things disgustingly while the humans looked on for some reason delighted. The cat/dog rivalry only truly began in 1897 and involved a row over who had eaten a three day-old Schnitzel that had gone missing from behind the back of some bins in a café in a suburb of Zagreb. This being the Balkans, what began as a bad-tempered scuffle between a portly Spaniel named Franz and a tabby named The Triumph of Pan-Slavism! quickly drew in cats and dogs from the surrounding area, pitting German Shepherd against Russian Blue, and eventually even dragging in Old English Sheepdogs, Burmese Cats and, ultimately, the vast might of the American Shorthairs. A century of feline/canine geopolitical rivalry followed that even now only just balances in a precarious cat/dog détente as they eye each other warily across the shredded curtain. But this isn’t the whole story. Recently discovered documents from the Belgrade Archive of Rodent History reveal that the Schnitzel had in fact simply been hidden by a gang of revolutionary hamsters. Their aim – to engineer a conflagration of cat/dog destruction across the globe,  and then to emerge all furry and blinking into the sunlight as humanity’s favourite surviving pet.

Sarah Pgce  asked: What would Sherlock Holmes smell like if he was real?

A lemon tree, my dear Watson.

Peggy Tryton asked: How does Santa know?

Santa Claus’s apparently uncanny insights into who has been naughty and who has been nice along with his endless supply of infant consumer durables have for centuries been the central plank of his strategy to win the hearts and minds of the world’s children. But it was only on Boxing Day 2013 that we began to understand where the information for his famous “twice-checked list” came from thanks to the courageous actions of Yuletide Cheer Technician Second Class Edward Snowman. Snowman fled Santa’s vast underground industrial complex at the North Pole and brought with him computer records revealing extensive sharing of child behavioural data with Mumsnet and information on vegetable consumption levels from the National Association of School Dinner Servers. Snowman has now been granted asylum by leading anti-Santa activist Jadis the White Witch. Speaking from her sinister castle of ice she said that “No amount “Ho ho ho!” can disguise the reality of Santa’s iron fist in a red furry glove.”

Anonymous asked: When will I, will I be famous?

This lyric comes of course from the 1987 hit song by Bros. What is perhaps less well known is the unusual history of the lyrics. Many thousands of miles away in California lived a Mrs Debra Am, a poor black lady with three young sons, all called William, because she liked the name. As she was very short-sighted and couldn’t tell the boys apart she numbered each son with Roman numerals, Will I, Will II and Will III and asked that they make it clear which one of them might be speaking at any given moment. Her oldest, Will I harboured dreams of celebrity and every morning as the family walked to the school bus he would ask his mother “When will I, Will I, be famous?” His mother, like everyone in the housing projects of East LA at that time was an enormous devotee of the works of Matt and Luke Goss and the other one, and feeling that they might be able to help with her sons ambitions she encouraged Will I to write to them with his question. And the rest is history. Now with the benefit of hindsight and also foresight we are in a position to answer Will I Am’s question, namely he is likely to be famous for about the first quarter of the 21st century and then after that incrementally less so year on year until by 2073 nobody at all will know who he is unless they upload his Wikipedia entry into their hand-held wireless Strawberry Cheesecake.

That’s all for now but ask a question in the comments below, and do it soon because in just ten billion years this universe is likely to end, and what holds true for this universe may not apply to the next.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Elk Spoons and a Surprisingly Good Deal on Golf Equipment.

Welcome to the blog that attempts to explain everything in the entire universe once and for all. Here are the answers to some of your questions. I hope you’re happy, and if you aren’t I don’t honestly know what you expect me to do about it.

Nance We have knives, forks, spoons, and chopsticks as traditional eating utensils. What other utensils have fallen into disuse for the dinner table?
Ever since the first cave-dweller tutted at his neighbour for using an elk spoon to eat mammoth, humans have enjoyed intimidating each-other with fancy and incomprehensible eating utensils. This quest to use cutlery to humiliate dinner guests into feeling socially inferior reached a peak in Victorian times in what historians call the Great Cutlery Bubble. A quick flick through the Imperial Silverware Manifest of 1874 turns up such treasures as the sausage wrench, the lobster catapult, the soup syringe, and the horse-drawn butter mallet. But perhaps the most magnificent eating utensil ever devised was Bishop Steadfast Dyson’s clockwork stew vortex which advertisements claimed would overcome forever “our nation’s unhappy awkwardness concerning whether to eat stew with a spoon or fork”. It consisted of a six-foot-high iron cylinder pierced by a series of mouth-sized apertures to which dinner guests’ faces could be lightly strapped. Hot stew was then poured into the cylinder and the whole thing rotated by a powerful clockwork spring at immensely high speed, forcing the stew out of the cylinder and into the mouths of the spinning guests.  The invention was simultaneously a total failure and an enormous success: as an aid to eating stew it was inconvenient to the point of fatality but as a means of terrifying dinner guests it was second only to the tiger-handled cake-slice.

Aaron asked What is the blue flavour?
It tastes like depressed chicken.

Peggy Tryton asked Why are there so many murders in Midsomer?
A quick statistical analysis reveals that the county of Midsomer has about twice as many murders per head as London. To anybody who has ever supervised the queue for the donkey rides at a picturesque church fête, or attended a lecture on crochet in a village hall on a hot day wearing a scratchy tweed skirt this is entirely understandable. With no dark alleys in which to mug hapless strangers, no blighted inner-city schools to vandalise in a frenzy of alienation and not even any rocks of crack the inhabitants of Midsomer are doomed forever to bottle everything up behind a smiling veneer of non-ethnically-diverse smiles and gardening trousers. Nobody can live under such conditions, and inevitably it all comes out in a raging frenzy of lemon-curd-fuelled homicide.

J-Bob asked Is left always left?
No. “Left” and “right” should only really ever be used when you are in a house or on a street. At sea of course we use port and starboard, in an antiquarian bookshop there is “sinister” and “dexter” and on a farm the correct usage is “over yer” and “over thurr”. In space of course left and right become irrelevant because there is no up or down so astronauts use “clockwise” and “North”.

Debsalini Why is it that when a thread has more than three comments there's always someone wanting to sell the others something?
Like any sprawling structure with murky corners the internet is haunted. A typical supernatural online experience might be as follows: you are alone in the house, and it is dark, the only light being the feeble flicker of your annoyingly obsolete iPhone 4 which you only bought a few months ago for heaven’s sake. You stumble upon an interesting YouTube video of a cat who falls off a table when it hears the start of the Nicki Minaj classic Super Bass. It is followed by a thread of comments that debates whether or not Americans are bigoted morons or whether conversely without America England would have had it’s sorry ass whooped in the second war and then we’d all be speaking Russian. You have devised your own bon mot, a puckish reference linking the loud shirts of Texan tourists to global warming when suddenly your iPhone goes cold, or at least, drops to only twenty degrees above room temperature, and a sinister scrawl appears in front of you “Hi guys, outstanding thread! These comments are of the most engaging and I have uttered often on this topic on my own blog”. With a chill gathering about your heart you click on the link. But do you find further nuanced debate about international relations? No. There is nothing but the howl of the electronic wind whistling through a surprisingly good deal on Pringle jumpers. The legend goes that this malevolent comment was typed by no human fingers. It was the Invisible Hand of Market Forces.

That’s all for now. If you have any questions about what makes the universe tick or can offer a surprisingly good deal on golf shoes, please leave them in the comments below.

Thursday 23 May 2013

The Tewksbury Council of Plurals and a Bewildered Mammoth

Welcome to the blog that confidently sets out to explain every aspect of everything that has ever existed, then goes a bit quiet when it realizes that that’s quite a big ask, then resolves to really give it a go anyway. Here we present the latest answers to your questions…

Nance asked: Who invented tax-collecting?

Collecting anything can be a fascinating hobby, although to be honest it often is not. As a boy I collected stamps, as a teenager I collected anxieties, and now in adulthood I enjoy nothing more than sitting on a sofa collecting dust. But my Great Uncle Emlyn was the only person I have come across with a collection of taxes. His favourite among these was a Cat Tax, instituted by the French government in 1763 and prompting a widespread sell-off of cats. The cat shortage that followed lead to the Mouse Tax of 1764, which proved to be an administrative nightmare. Also in his collection were the Watchmakers Duty or “Tick Tock Tax”; and the Small Ornaments and Glaziers’ Materials Levy of 1958, or “Nick Knack Putty Tax”. In fact my great uncle was just one tax short of collecting every tax ever imposed when he died in October 1973. His estate was wound up (he had been a lifelong advocate of the clockwork car), and his collection broken up and sold in order to pay his newly-incurred inheritance tax, thus simultaneously completing and destroying his collection.

Peggy asked: As Britain gets very little sun, how does the Shadow Cabinet function?
By forming a Shadow Puppet Government.

Nance also asked: How many generations or years did it take to reduce the regular size of a dog breed to make one that fits in a handbag or baby-sling? Are there any popular big dog breeds that are shrinking?
Our beliefs about how and why we have tiny dogs was turned on its head in 1987. Up to that point received opinion was that dogs were indeed gradually getting smaller, possibly as a result of erosion or being washed at the wrong temperature, and scientists postulated that the earliest dogs might well have been forty or fifty feet high. Then deep inside a limestone cave in France archeologists stumbled on a painting of a mammoth hunt. In an ornate animal-skin bag worn over the shoulder one of the hunters appears to be carrying a bulgy-eyed, scrawny and unusually horrid tiny dog. In our modern era we know that dogs like this cause bewilderment and nausea in anyone who sees them. We can only assume that the dog in the picture was about to be used by the prehistoric hunters to really get on the mammoth’s nerves, causing it to roll its eyes and tut at the repulsive yappy freak just long enough for the hunters to catch the mammoth and kill it.

A-aron asked: Where do flies bodies go when they die?
They go to fly body heaven, which is also spider heaven.

Alisoun Truggmakyr asked: What is the plural of anonymous?
The Tewksbury Council Of Plurals of 1621 was perhaps the most shameful episode in the history of English spelling. After a sensible morning spent adding s to things, thus agreeing that the plural of “an apple” would be “some apples” and so forth, the committee adjourned for lunch to a nearby tavern, only returning some hours later to finish their work almost too drunk to stand and certainly too drunk to say “some mouses” “some gooses” or “some octopuses”. The clerk of the council tried to keep up with the increasingly slurred and random plurals but it was a lost cause, and by the time they got to “anonymous” the officially agreed plural appears to be  “some-on-some-mices”.

That’s all for now, but remember, if there’s anything at all that puzzles you about everything that’s ever existed, real or hypothetical, then why not write it in the comments below and our team of world-class conjecturers and idle speculationists may get back to you with a state-of-the-art explanation in due course, or even sooner. That’s the Some Kind of Explanation guarantee.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Vikings, Duvets and Meaningless Revelry

Welcome to the blog that sets out to explain everything once and for all for the rest of time. Here are the answers to some of your recent questions.

Nance asked According to historical records, who was the first person to sign a secret diary, rant or poison pen letter with "Anonymous"?
Until the 15th century social convention decreed that people sign their names to every single document no matter how offensive or contentious. This lead to embarrassment, acts of revenge and quite boring Valentine’s Days. Then in 1487 a particularly unpleasant poem entitled “Three-and-twenty Reasons forwhy Alisoun Truggmakyr is an Rottyn Bytche” was nailed to the side of a well in Devizes, Wilthsire. It was signed simply “Anonymous”. The towns-people gathered round puzzling over the meaning of the new word until Sir Godfrey deBodfrey stepped forward and announced that it meant that the name of the author was secret. When asked how he knew this, Sir Godfrey went red and began talking about the weather. The new word immediately became a part of the language, and Godfrey deBodfrey was pushed into the well by Alisoun Truggmakyr.

Scott asked How do they get the non-stick surface of a non-stick frying pan to stick to the pan itself?
By not using a stick.

@ComedyPunkz asked Why is bed more warm & comfy on weekday mornings than on weekend mornings?
Etienne Duvet’s pioneering methodology for lying in bed thinking about stuff, Bedpoststructuralism, posits that the reality of the external world recedes as the self snuggles further under the covers. This means that to the snoozer the outside world only has meaning in so far as it is not as nice as the bed. It therefore follows that the colder and more horrid the outside world the cosier the bed must therefore always already be. Thus on a cold weekday in February in Croydon the whole idea of getting out of bed collapses in on itself, and shortly thereafter so does the person trying to get up, a concept known as Indifférance.

Julian: Who actually put the bomp in the bop-she-bop-she-bop? While we're at it, who put the ram in the ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong? And most importantly, what on earth are either of them, and why?
If you look carefully you’ll see that there isn’t a “bomp” in the “bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop” (you’ll see I’m using use the Folio spelling “shoo” which I think is more widely accepted than “she”). It’s just “bops” and “shoos”. In fact a hoax internet “bomp” alert such as yours is likely to attract the attention of the law, with the police spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on a disproportionate and ill-considered prosecution of your threatening behaviour, and rightly so. Meanwhile “Ram” is the Biblical figure Ram, son of Hezron and forbear of King David, and it was added to the a-lang-a-ding-dong by Oliver Cromwell in1653 replacing the earlier “Hey-nonny-a-lang-a-ding-dong” which Cromwell regarded as “most foul and meaningless revelry”.

Chelsea: Why is Iceland green and Greenland ice?
The sagas of Gunnbjörn Ulfsson, Erik the Red and the Viking settlement of Iceland and Greenland are well known, but posterity has been less kind to the exploits of 10th century practical joker Sigurd the Sign-Swapper who sailed throughout the known world making things confusing for everyone else for his own selfish amusement, eventually returning home to spend his declining years in the remote Danish village of Beirut.

That’s all for this month, but why not subtract from the sum of human bewilderment  by posting a question in the comments section below? Just a small effort on your part will make an immeasurable difference to future generations.

Friday 1 February 2013

Laissez-Faire Llamas and a Globe Full of Snow

Welcome to another installment of the blog that knows all the answers to everything in the universe, but doesn’t like to go on about it.

Nance asked How do you get snow into a snow globe?

Snow globe construction is as simple in theory as it is hard in practice. A trained snow-globe trapper simply scours the arctic in summer looking for a suitable micro-climate. Then he waits. As soon as the weather turns snowy he scoops the clouds up into a hand-blown glass dome and glues an ugly plastic miniature village to the bottom, inverts it, then begins the long trek back south to civilization and its gift shops.

@alexthomp18 I gave a cat some dog food. Can anything bad happen as a result?
1) Your cat will hate you.
2) Your dog will hate you.
3) Your dog will hate your cat.
Isn’t there already enough hate in the world?
 asked What is the probability that llamas will take over the world in 2013?

This cannot possibly happen, for the simple reason that llamas have already taken over the world. You might think that this explains a lot about why the world is in such a sorry state and add that our llama masters have made a pretty poor fist of managing the planet, but the truth is that llamas feel it’s inappropriate to meddle in the day to day affairs of humans or indeed any other species, including llamas. Some might term the llama’s attitude laissez-faire free market economics but the truth is that llamas are just massively passive aggressive, as you can tell by their facial expressions.

"I'm totally fine actually"             

Robert Hudson On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?
The poor wolf is probably deeply uncomfortable. Not only is it a hot, humid night and he's stuck wearing fur, but his date has clearly stood him up. Now he's sat there sweltering and clutching his rather over-the-top bouquet feeling like an idiot. I'd offer him a whisky and soda and book him a cab.

@slepkane Why is a watch called a watch?
When the first portable timepieces appeared in 14th century Florence they were as much for prestige as punctuality. Any nobleman wealthy enough to own a “clocetto” as they were then known would have no real need to turn up on time to anything, but would instead expect people patiently to await his arrival, and so the clocetto had just one hand which indicated the month. Nor was convenience a consideration for anyone with a retinue of servants, so the clocettos were carried about by twenty or thirty footmen, or in one case a team of dray elephants. With neither size nor functionality imposing any limitations on design the clocettos became all about spectacle. Cosmo da Grazia’s clocetto featured life-sized wooden models enacting the racier bits from Boccaccio’s Decameron while the Duke of Panini’s was decorated with battling Greek triremes on a real lake. Thus when one nobleman casually met another in the Piazza he might ask “if he had the right month on him”, prompting the latter to get out his clocetto. This would result in a spectacular contest of competing displays lasting several hours, always introduced with the one word “Watch!” Only in 14th century Italian obviously.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog I am frankly astonished. However, why not add to the sum of human knowledge by asking your own question in the comments below.