Category Archives: Humour

How to become a cook

Can you remember the first time you ate spaghetti? The cook and author Nigel Slater can, and from his experience it’s clear that one way to stimulate an interest in food is to eat very badly as a child. Slater is describing his experience each day this week on BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week and at times it’s very funny.

Update: Gavin Bell of Take One Onion spotted excerpts of Slater’s book published in The Observer.

Brazilian broadband

A journalist at BBC News Online, Gary Eason, has written an amusing account of the poor service he received from BT Openworld (see BBC NEWS | Technology | Always on, except when it’s off).

I don’t want to spoil his story, but Eason’s experience reminds me of one of my favourite movies Brazil by Terry Gilliam. Jon Reeves summarised the plot for The Internet Movie Database as follows:

Bureaucracy and ductwork run amok in the story of a paperwork mixup that leads to the imprisonment of Mr. Buttle, shoe repairman, instead of Harry Tuttle, illegal freelance Heating Engineer. Bureaucrat Sam Lowry (prone to escapes to a fantasy world) gets branded a terrorist and becomes hunted by the state himself in the process of correcting the mistake.

What’s the moral of this story? When things start to spiral out of control, start making copious notes.

Silly season starts

Several signs denoting the arrival of the annual silly season have appeared recently in the media. This morning the Today programme used a change in the design of the ten pound note to spark a discussion (RealOne Player required) about the superiority of science over the arts.

Charles Darwin on the ten pound noteThe old ten pound note with a picture of Charles Dickens on the back is being replaced by one with a portrait of Charles Darwin. After briefly debating the relative merits of Dickens versus Darwin, the host asked one of her distinguished guests what the two men had in common: they were direct contemporaries, belonged to the same London club, and apparently suffered from a chronic “digestive complaint”.

I knew the silly season had begun when the guest quickly added: “I think flatulence was terribly popular in Victorian times”.

Canada, the 51st state

Some people claim that Canada becomes more like the United States every day, but the Washington Post published an article on Canada Day that argues against that trend: Whoa! Canada!
Legal Marijuana. Gay Marriage. Peace. What the Heck’s Going On Up North, Eh?

It refers to a best-selling Canadian book titled Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values which includes a New Yorker cartoon showing a man and woman enjoying drinks before dinner. The man says, “You seem familiar, yet somehow strange — are you by any chance Canadian?”

For more on the reaction to this book see The Christian Science Monitor and The Nation.

How to carry a wife

Thanks to Arts & Letter Daily for this link to indispensible advice from the Wall Street Journal (To Have and to Hold: The Key
To Wife Carrying Is Upside Down

The best way for a man to carry a woman is to dangle her upside down over his back, with her thighs squeezing his neck and her arms around his torso.

One “passenger” entered in the Wife Carrying World Championship in Sonkajarvi, Finland, was quoted as saying “It’s not so bad. But you don’t see much“.

New words of war

Now that the war with Iraq is well under way, a number of news organisations have published guides to the new military jargon that has inevitably arrived. The BBC has E-cyclopedia’s words of war and the Guardian has The language of war.

However, I can’t help publishing my own list of neologisms with their real meanings as follows:

  • Coalition of the willing: a euphemism for sex between consenting adults.
  • Decapitation strike: occurs in baseball when a player fails to hit the ball, but hits the pitcher instead.
  • Shock ‘n Awe: a Grammy Award-winning female Rhythm & Blues singer from the US.

If I find any more, I’ll let you know.