By Gareth Edwards

Tuesday 31 January 2012

How to train a Cat, and Life Before Birth

Welcome to the internet blog that sets out to answer every possible question about the nature of the universe. It’s hard to believe that this is already my 28th post of a projected total of 87,098,264,872.  

Leslie asked Is it true that if you get a song stuck in your head, the best thing to do is shake your head violently to dislodge it?
Shaking the head can successfully help you forget a tune, but only if it results in a localized brain injury, or if your head falls off. There’s also a risk that  shaking could make it harder to forget the song, if for example the song is “The Hippy Hippy Shake” or anything by Shakin’ Stevens. Current medical opinion is that If you encounter someone with a tune stuck in their head, you should stand behind them, grasp them round the abdomen and then sing “Raindrops keep falling on my head” until the song in their brain has been dislodged. This is known as the Bacharach Manoeuvre.

fatboyfat How many roads must a man walk down?
Any roads that are closed to wheeled vehicles.

Joliet I am 5 months pregnant & have a very fidgety baby which makes me feel like I'm constantly on the verge of a "John Hurt in Alien" moment. What is Junior DOING in there that requires so much movement?!
It’s a curious fact that while you or I would never dream of poking, kicking or jostling a heavily pregnant woman, prenatal babies do it whenever the mood takes them. It’s hard not to be judgemental about this kind of behaviour, but at 5 months Junior is probably just becoming dimly aware of his surroundings in a dark, cramped and baffling space, with no idea of how he or she got there, and beginning to panic much as you or I might wake up in a hotel room after a school re-union.  Junior is therefore probably looking for a way out as fast as possible, unaware that life on the outside will hold yet more horrors. That’s the problem with prenatal babies – they don’t know they’re born.

Nance Is it true that house cats are untrainable?
House cats are perfectly capable of being trained to help with all kinds of domestic chores as long as you chose the right chores. For example, let’s say you wanted to cover an old cushion with a large number of fine hairs. This is work a cat could master with practically no training. Similarly if you needed to have some holes made in the side of a valuable sofa, or a bit of a bird to be sicked-up on a duvet then a cat will apply itself to this task more readily than any dog, horse or even toddler. The Metropolitan Police Feline Division have recently achieved almost 100% success rates in their exciting new scheme to train cats to stand on the kitchen counter and lick the butter in a weirdly disgusting way. In due course this skill could be used to catch terrorists, though exactly how is still very much work in progress.

Grazlewacky Until recently I felt that I had a fairly good grasp on reality and things in general. Having read your blog for a while now, I'm starting to feel rather confused. What does this mean?
I’m hugely relieved that your confidence that reality and things in general can in some way be “grasped” has begun to falter. Certainty is an over-rated and dangerous quality in a human, leading as it does to decisive action. A sense of bewilderment, and the resulting desire to sit down and think things over a bit longer before doing anything hasty is perhaps the greatest gift this blog has to offer, and if you truly care about your fellow men and women then you should spread your sense of bemused hesitancy far and wide. Or perhaps you shouldn’t. It’s a tricky one.

Hopefully that’s cleared up at least some of the mysteries of the universe, but if anything else has been puzzling you about anything anywhere in all of recorded time then please get in touch.


  1. Welcome to 2012. One question:

    Hedgehogs. Why?

  2. What does my eye twitch want? :)

  3. Why don't the characters I type agree with the characters half-hidden in the inkblots, even unto the third and fourth attempt?

  4. Where did you get that hat? Where did you get that tile?

  5. Who invented tax-collecting?

  6. Is it true that every snowflake is different?

  7. I finally finished a box of salt that I'm pretty sure I bought in the 90s. I want to fill my salt shaker. But now there's a whole shelf of options at the grocery: rock salt, pink mountain salt, sea salt, Kosher salt, etc. What do I get? I just want to salt my potatoes.