[19 Dec 03] About the least-helpful sign you can see when you're looking for a meeting room in a strange building:

Sign at Strathclyde University, Glasgow

Probably just trying to get their students into the right frame of mind.


[ 7 Nov 03] People say that Australian cooking used to be bland and unvaried before multiculturalism took off in the '70s and '80s, but one look at the original Australian Women's Weekly Cookbook published in 1970 and you can see that this just isn't true. It's full of recipes inspired by ethnic minorities: Italians... Chinese... Zombies.


Auld Balti

[29 Oct 03] Edinburgh is Old; or, as the local vernacular has it, Auld. The castle is one and a half thoosand years old, Holyrood Abbey nine hundred years old, the university four hundred and twenty. Every second sign on the Royal Mile goes on about how old everything is. Even souvenir shops stress their Auld and Antient Nature, as they tout their Auld Traditional Jimmy Hattes.

So it was no great surprise to see, from the windows of a bus I don't often catch, a curry house claiming itself to be "One of the Oldest and Finest Indian Takeaways in Edinburgh".

How old would that be, I wondered. Does it date to the Victorian days of the Raj? To the fading days of empire in the 1930s? Or just to the wave of subcontinental immigration in the 1950s and '60s?

I looked down to the caption underneath: "EST. 1990".

Thirteen years. Thirteen. There are curry houses on the Gold Coast older than that. I've eaten pappadums older than that. That's not old by Auld Reekie standards, that's old by Old Navy standards.

Man, those health inspectors must be harsh.



[ 3 Sep 03] Juxtaposed in a pile of books on our study shelf:


[17 Jul 03] Sign on the street: BUY FIVE PIES, GET 20% OFF.

So, you pay for five and get only four?


Everybody Bounce

[13 Apr 03]

"How come they never make spacehoppers in adult sizes?"

"Yeah. They should."

"I want a spacehopper. Can you buy me a spacehopper?"

"Aw. I want a spacehopper too."

"Tandem spacehopper."

"Yes! That's brilliant!"

"I'm going to invent one."

"It could be a peanut shape."

"But you'd both have to bounce at the same time, or you'd knock your heads together."

"Or the gravitational forces would tear it apart. You need some kind of coupling between two individual spacehoppers."





[ 6 Feb 03] Cold winter evenings bring out the true spirit of apathy.

"I just can't be arsed getting up."

"To do what?"

"I dunno."


[ 6 Feb 03] A while ago I was cold-canvassed by our bank to join their life insurance scheme, with the first two months of cover free. Since the chance of my choking on a brazil nut at Christmas was greater than zero and free was not, I thought 'what the hell' and signed up. Yesterday I got a reminder letter that they would soon be charging Real Money every Actual Month, and so—given that the immediate choking danger had passed—rang them and cancelled it.

When I mentioned this to Jane she pointed out that the whole thing was a bit pointless, because it wasn't like the extra money would have made much difference if I'd actually died.

"Yeah," I said, "but having £80,000 is better than not having it."

"Sure," she said, "but it's not like it would get rid of the smell."



[13 Jan 03] The scene: three of us in a fancy cafe on the Royal Mile. Yours truly reads from the menu.

"Escargots: A dozen French garden snails sauteed in garlic and butter.... Why couldn't they use good old British garden snails?"

"Ah, well, they all came down with Mad Snail disease, you see. The farmers went out to their snail pens one day, and they were all just lying about, frothing at the mouth."

"...I thought they only did that when they ate too many Defender pellets."

(Thanks, David.)


Prime Time

[ 1 Jan 03] 2003 is a prime number, so today's date multiplied by itself—day times month times year—is also prime. The last day for which that was true was exactly four years ago; the next will be in another eight.

Don't say you never learn anything useful here.


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