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.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Cress and Methodism

Thank you for your excellent questions. Here are the answers to some of them.

What is the point of it all?
The point of it all is the sharp bit at the end of it all. This of course begs the question “which end?” Some experts on it all have suggested that if you could get to the bottom of it all you would be able to see the point of it all. Clearly if the point is at the bottom then it follows that it all is balancing on its pointy end. That means that the current orientation of it all is inherently unstable and it all could fall over at any moment, which is certainly how it all feels.

How do carrots behave in a vacuum?
The short answer is “appallingly”. In a vacuum carrots are sullen, uncooperative, and thoughtless. They also never say “thank you” and have absolutely zero drag. However it’s worth remembering that culturally carrots have very different standards of behaviour from humans (except teenagers) so we shouldn’t be tempted to judge the sulky orange idiots.

Do these trousers make me look fat?
I’m afraid the answer is yes. Those trousers are awful.

Is yogurt alive?
Yoghurt is alive, but it’s not been well. Hence the smell.

Why is cress?
In 1911 Petrel Tressurgeon, Bodmin’s most famous aeronautical pioneer was desperate to be the first man to fly the English Channel. A fiercely loyal Cornish man, he vowed to take off from his native county, though this added one hundred and fifty three miles to the twenty-one-mile journey. Being a Methodist, Tressurgeon had no wind-sock and so like most non-conformists he checked the direction of the prevailing wind with a small handful of cress, which in those days was inedible, just as it is today. This inadvertently blew onto his lunch, a ham and cheese toasted sandwich, at which point Tressurgeon brushed the cress off with a dismissive tut and ate the sandwich. Then he turned his aircraft into the wind and with a smart crack of the whip he took off. His horse-drawn tri-plane remained airborne for one hundred and three feet, the precise height of the cliff from which he began his flight. Neither he nor his three shire-horses survived. The next morning a newspaper from London arrived announcing that Bleriot had flown the channel just two years earlier. Ever since then sandwich chefs have commemorated Tressurgeon with a sprinkle of cress. In copying his gesture of dismissively removing the cress from our toasted sandwich we honour this true British hero.

It’s possible that this last question was intended as a more philosophical inquiry into the place of garnishes in the universe. Rest assured that as this blog’s mission is to answer all possible questions at some point before the end of time, this enormously complex and painful subject along with all other possible subjects will be covered in due course.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Earl Grey Trousers

Here are this week’s pebbles of “because” dropped into the ocean of “why?”

Why are people scared of clowns when there is so little clown-related crime?
We’re not frightened of clowns because of what they might do.  We fear their negligence, and rightly so.  Clown Health and Safety Training is non-existent. A clown is an accident waiting to happen. I once did some management consultancy for a Clown Custard Pie Factory and there were countless incidents of irresponsibility, poor teamwork and just plain stupidity every day. In the twenty-seven months I observed them at work not a single pie made it into their distributor’s vans.  The business survived for a time as the clowns were content to work for the smiles and laughter of children, but it was eventually bankrupted by massive consultancy fees.

How many is four?
There’s no correct answer to this as four isn’t really a number, but a letter of the alphabet that has by convention come to denote the un-named number between three and five. It is used in words like “Petit Fours”, “Lord Balfour”, and “Four”. Its proper place is actually in the alphabet, between the letters “” and “Bethany”.

Why doesn’t my son hear anything I say?
It’s possible your son may be French. Don’t be frightened by all the scare-stories on the internet about this – many French children grow up to lead wonderful and fulfilling lives. Don’t try talking to him in French though as he will pretend not to understand your accent, even if it’s actually perfectly fine.

What are the origins of the colour green?
There were originally only six colours in the spectrum, red, orange, yellow, blue, violet and carbonara. In Roman times Caesar Verdurus decreed that an additional colour, green, should be added to the spectrum to celebrate the addition of Greenland to the Roman Empire. Verdurus’s successor, Indigus, perhaps the most competitive of the Caesars and certainly the most apoplectic decreed that he too should have a colour to honour his achievements  and the range of visible light was extended to include indigo. As a footnote, it was only recently that advances in electro-spectrometry revealed carbonara not to be a true colour at all, so it is no longer included in the rainbow.

Which is best, Earl Grey or Normal?
It depends. Earl Grey was a British prime minister famous for liking the strong citrus aroma of Bergamot oil, which he added liberally to everything. This worked very well in tea, but history has been less kind to Earl Grey Mashed Potato; Earl Grey Trousers; and the infamous Earl Grey Elephant, which rampaged furiously through both Houses of Parliament dripping with strong-smelling unguent until it was finally put to sleep with a reading from one of Benjamin Disraeli’s early novels. The story of Thomas Normal who amassed a great fortune by not adding Bergamot to a range of every-day products is too well-known to need repeating here.

Are tomatoes really a fruit or are they lying to us?
Tomatoes are actually a verb. Generally though they are not to be trusted.

An infinite number of further questions are necessary to guarantee this blog can fulfil its aim of explaining everything in the universe, so do keep up the vital work…