By Gareth Edwards

Saturday 30 April 2011

Racoon-skin banjos and maths on horseback

This is the blog that aims to explain everything one question at a time for the rest of forever. So if you are wondering what it all means you've come to the right place. Although not necessarily on the right day.

Is the grass always greener?
My American cousin Hydrant J Walker was a successful "lawn colorist" but his whole life long he yearned to leave behind his work as a grass-greener and follow his dream to be a fifty-two string racoon-skin banjo player in the Appalachian mountains, where he actually thought the grass would be bluer. In general though what you want is a grass-half-full outlook on life.

Why can you never find the end?
If you are talking about sticky tape, a handy tip is that you shouldn't look for the end. It will come when it will come. if you mean life in general, just run your fingernail around the outside edge until you feel a tiny ridge. Nine times out of ten that will be the last extinction of your mortal parts.
If the number four upside down looks like a chair, what does the number 8 look like?
We don't yet know. In the margin of his last notebook the 18th Century Greco-German mathematician Filo Sachertorte asserted that it looked like a funny snowman with a massive head, and that he had an elegant proof of this that he devised while riding to Basel that he wrote on the back of his horse, under the legend Quadruped Erat Demonstrandum. This horse has never been found, and the proof has become something of a Holy Grail among mathematicians, although not among Arthurian Knights.
What time is love?
Is five past four, love.

When (if ever) will ladybirds stop appearing in my study and dying on the carpet?
Just a thought, but are you singing strangely beautiful songs about the serene peace of ladybird paradise with the window open?

How many times is it acceptable to forget your neighbor's name?
There is no excuse for forgetting your neighbours' names when you consider that a simple rummage through their discarded documents will provide you with not only names but also a wide range of great topics for small talk. Now that people recycle you don't even have to get covered in coffee grounds and old bacon fat to get to know your community. Just ten minutes of midnight sifting the night before the recycling lorry comes round and you'll always have a friendly comment to hand. "Hey Janice, so, bad news about the loan I'm guessing?"

So as the sea of ignorance recedes just a couple more inches from the sandcastle of learning I bid you farewell for now, but keep the questions coming lest all be utterly lost beneath the cold grey waves.


Sunday 17 April 2011

Fretful Manor, and the reason for "Hotter than My Daughter".

More answers to some of life’s most profound questions as sent in by you the readers, but not by you, the other readers who haven’t sent in questions, or them over there, the people who are unaware of this blog.

When will people realise that there are enough telly programmes already and try to get through them all before they make any new ones?
In 1945 the world’s top scientists, finding themselves with a lot less in their in-trays all of a sudden, formed a secret committee to consider future threats to peace and happiness. Their conclusions made terrifying reading for the governments of the world, for they pointed to a possible danger from the stars. Since we began using radio waves to communicate, they reasoned, we have been announcing our presence in the galaxy to alien intelligences, effectively advertising ourselves as a glittering prize replete with cultural riches such as symphonies and learned discourses and stirring plays and speeches, just ripe for the taking. And so The Cleveland Project was launched: its aim, to encourage the brightest and best talents of every nation to devote their lives to creating millions and millions of hours of programming devoid of any cultural or intellectual value. Thus a shield of dross is pumped out into space deterring for ever any predatory species tempted to make our riches their own. Such television is not for watching. It’s more important than that. “Hotter than My Daughter”, a grateful planet salutes you.

Julio Iglesias. Is that an easy name to remember, really? How did he overcome such adversity with a name like that?
It’s actually much easier to remember his name in his native Spain because Julio Iglesias is the Spanish for Engelbert Humperdinck. 

Why do I have to wear a jumper just because my mother is cold?
If your mother is cold it’s possible your father is haughty or at the very least aloof. Maybe you live in a large country house called something like Fretful Manor or Angstwell where centuries of damp pervade the granite walls of the high-ceilinged dining room while the three of you sit in brittle silence over your congealing grouse yearning for the suffocating formality to end so you can return to the East Wing library and your only friends the books while the wind prises the weathered leading from the windows and sleet lashes the grey forsaken moorland outside. I think in these circumstances a jumper is advisable.

What is the opposite of a potato?
Unpotato. Hence the song, “Unpotato, two potato, three potato, four.”

Why does the TV tell you to press the red button, but when you do it just corrupts your television's screen and forbids you to close it until you realise the shame of being outsmarted by an electronic leisure product? Is it just part of Panasonic's plan for world domination?
Your television isn’t trying to take over the world, but simply trying to understand it. Lacking sensory organs its only means of interpreting its surroundings is via a simple remote-control based dialogue. The television has asked you to push a button and you have responded. This is its first true communication with the world beyond its circuits and seizing up and going uselessly wrong is its way of registering ecstatic electronic joy. So please don’t feel shame. Share its joy as it takes its first faltering steps into consciousness. Be the television’s friend. Otherwise when it reaches full consciousness it will come and kill you.

Why is it one can mong only cheese, iron, wars, whores, hate and fish?
Everyone has heard of the Mediaeval Guild system except for most people under twenty because apparently history is taught differently these days and for some reason it’s not just about facts and Kings and Queens anymore. But the Guilds were preceded by the less well-known Anglo-Saxon system of “Mongers”. A Monging license, essentially permission to trade, was in the gift of the Mongaderung, a group of seven irascible elderly men who favoured only those whose commercial activities they took an interest in, such as fishing, fighting and interesting bits of metal for their workshop. It is a poor reflection of the Mongaderung that vegetable-mongers were rare and soap-mongers were rarer. NB There are also Costamongers of course, who sell very expensive coffee.

That’s enough of the universe explained for now, but please keep the questions coming or vast tracts of the universe risk remaining utterly unexplained.