By Gareth Edwards

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Hats, Quinces, Margaret Atwood and Custard.

A collection of facts is not knowledge any more than a collection of stones is a cathedral. Here then in answer to your questions about the mysteries of the universe are; a curvy bit from a Gothic window, two limestone blocks, a bit of a pillar, a roof-tile and a kidney stone from a bishop.  The rest is up to you.

How many people annually eat their shoes? Is it more than eat their hats?
Here are the results from the Bayerische Schuh-und-Hut Fressenfest for the last four years. 2007 – Shoes 513, Hats 457; 2008 – Shoes 453, Hats 617; 2009 - Shoes 0, Hats 1; 2010 Shoes 913, Hats 0, Towels 1. To explain a couple of surprising things in these statistics – 2009 saw a venue change from Bayern in Southern Germany to the island fortress of Iwo Jima in the Pacific. The organiser, Klaus Wurstwerfer confidently asserted that if this affected attendance he would eat his hat.  In 2010 the competition ended in disarray: as everybody knows the Fressenfest traditionally begins with a hat being thrown into the ring, after which the opposition put the boot in, and so on, but in 2010 a misunderstanding with the laundry lead to the hat-eaters mistakenly throwing in the towel thus technically ruling themselves out.

How can I tell left from right, and remember which is which?
There’s a simple rhyme for this –
Left is on the left hand side
Right is on the right
All the rest have thirty-one
Divorced beheaded survived.

Why does only the left side of my body make clicking noises?
There are all kinds of explanations for clicking and it’s hard to know without more information: for example if you are have an oak skeleton then it’s possible you have death-watch beetle; if you are a ten year old child with a retractable biro in your left hand you may be trying to get on your dad’s nerves when he’s trying to read the paper; or possibly the whole left side of your body may be the opening number from West Side Story.  The good news is that somewhere out there is someone who makes clicking noises only down the right side of their body, and I have a feeling if you two get together you’ll totally click.

My daughter has drawn a picture that she says is The Leaning Tower of Treason. Where is that and why is it so called?
The Leaning Tower of Treason is in the picturesque market town of Treason, Wiltshire. It was designed to exactly resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa by local architect Henry Leaning, and when it was first completed it was known as the Leaning Leaning Tower of Pisa of Treason, but it was built on the wrong kind of swamp and over the years it became gradually vertical, until the second “leaning” was dropped from the name. In the 1970s the tower was covered in brick-effect cladding and unsympathetically double glazed so the resemblance to Pisa diminished and it was simply called The Leaning Tower of Treason.  Then in the 80s it was shortened to one storey and turned into a branch of Tower Records.

What has become of the great British Quince?
Feeling sidelined by sharp-suited kiwi fruits, young urban papayas with their I-pods, and street-smart mangos with their Blackberries the old-fashioned quince has dropped out of the fruit race and has been spending the last few years happily hanging about in mossy country gardens with its friends the mulberry and the damson, and occasionally getting deliciously jellied at a local cheese board.  It says it’s never been happier but does go on a bit about that time it was in The Owl and the Pussycat.

Are fortune cookies wiser than other biscuits?
No. Compared to most biscuits fortune cookies are idiots.  The wisest biscuits are Chocolate Kierkegaards, but unfortunately they have a leathery taste as they are made out of leather. The Custard Russell is also thought of as an intelligent biscuit, but it is unavailable in shops as it’s an abstract concept. Margaret Atwood is very clever, but is not a biscuit at all.

I hope that’s cleared up some of the mysteries of the universe. However do remember that here at Some Kind of Explanation the mission is to have ALL of the mysteries of the universe explained before time itself shall cease, so do keep the questions coming in.