Showing posts from May, 2014

Interesting Fact - GDP

According to the Office for National Statistics sex workers and drug dealers add £9.7 bn to the GDP of the UK.

(This amount is the same contribution as farming, and only slightly less than book and newspaper publishers. It will be categorised under "Miscellaneous Goods and Services", which also includes life insurance, personal care products and post office charges.

It's nice to see everyone doing their bit.)

Interesting Fact - Vampires

According to psychologist Dr Emyr Williams there are 15,000 vampires in Britain.

(Dr Williams, is investigating an alleged ‘underground network’ of real-life vampires who gather in secret to suck blood from willing volunteers.

Allegedly vampires meet regularly all over the world, and recent research by scientists at Harvard University that a ‘youth protein’ labelled known as ‘GDF11’ is responsible for keeping the brain and muscles young and strong and is present in the bloodstream in large quantities when we are young but peters out as we age, might make you think they are onto something, but any positive effect is through transfusion, not by drinking it.  In fact, if you are at all seduced by the romanticism of vampires from Buffy the vampire slayer, Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries etc. the fact is that if you ingest it, blood is toxic.

There are also so called “Psychic vampires", who say they have a different ability; they are the ones who, when they come into a room, …


30th May is National Hole in Bucket Day.

To celebrate, here is the original rhyme, There's a hole in my bucket.

I hope your bucket isn't holey.

Interesting People - Tenzing Norgay

On safely reaching the summit of Mount Everest Sherpa Tenzing Norgay buried some sweets and biscuits in the snow as a Buddhist offering to the gods.

(I wonder if there were any gummy bears in the offering.)


29th May is National Paperclip Day.

Interesting Food - Diets

According to a survey conducted by sweetener manufacturer Splenda, chocolate, cheese and crisps are the treats that are most likely to tempt people away from a diet.

(Half the respondents said chocolate was their downfall, for a third it was crisps, and a quarter said cheese was their biggest temptation.

Other foods mentioned were bread, cakes, biscuits, sweets and Chinese meals.

The fourth biggest craving mentioned was a glass of chilled white wine on a night out. What! No beer?)

Interesting Fact - Toys

Several shops selling toys in the UK have agreed to remove sexist labelling of girls' and boys' toys.

(Following a campaign by a group called Let Toys Be Toys, a group of British parents who have been campaigning for a change in the way toys are marketed to boys and girls, Toys R Us, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Boots, The Entertainer and TK Maxx have all signed up.

Toy manufacturer Lego, has also promised to review the way its toys are represented.
As a child I was a bit of a tomboy; labelling and marketing never stopped me from playing with so called "boys" toys.)

Interesting Fact - Middle Age

According to data from life insurance companies you are less likely to die in your 50s and 60s than at any other time in your life.
(Good news for anyone facing middle age.)

Interesting Person - Hugh Grant

British film star Hugh Grant's middle name is Mungo.

(In fact his full name is Hugh John Mungo Grant.

At least he didn't change his name.)


Today is Towel Day.

(Douglas Adams, creator of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, gave the world some excellent advice when he wrote, "Never go anywhere without your towel".

On May 14, 2001, one of his fans, D. Clyde Williamson, posted a tribute to Mr. Adams including a proposal that a date two weeks after his passing should be observed as Towel Day. May 25th continues to be observed annually as Towel Day as an ongoing tribute to Mr Adams.

To celebrate the day, give you towels the day off, and every time someone asks you a question, give them a wise and knowing look and answer "42".

And never forget that just because you know the answer, doesn't mean you understand the question.

When you can't use "42" fruitfully, try another famous line from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or a Douglas Adams' quote instead, such as:

"Mostly harmless"
"Life, the Universe, and Everything"
"Almost, but not quit…

Interesting Food - Fruit

According to analysis by the Economist, the popularity of apples has outstripped that of oranges.

(Denmark consumes the most apples per head (30kg per person per year), and Morocco has the highest orange, tangerine and mandarin consumption (32 kg per person per year).
I bet Danish doctors aren't that happy.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to the Cabinet Office publicans are in the unhappiest occupation, closely followed by brickies and debt collectors.

(The happiest jobs, the research suggests, are vicar and priest.

There's got to be a moral in there somewhere.)

Interesting People

A Belgian police officer, Jacques Joseph Hamoir, is believed to have been the model for Agatha Christie's famous Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot.

(Researchers think that Agatha Christie met Hornais when she played the piano for him in her home town of Torquay.

Hornais, a retired gendarme fled Belgium in the face of advancing German troops and made his way to England in 1914, as did the fictional Poirot.)


Thanks to +april sis.

Interesting Fact - Transport

French train operator SNCF has discovered that 2,000 new trains it ordered at a cost of 15bn euros (£12.1bn) are too wide for many regional platforms.

(Officials say around 1,300 platforms will have to be adjusted  to create room for the new trains to pass through, because they were built more than 50 years ago when trains were a little slimmer.

Weren't we all.)


May 21st is the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

It's also National Waiting Staff Day. So make sure you tip your waiter or waitress today.

Interesting Food - Cherries

Sticking to a fruity theme; Harrods are selling cherries at £4.65 a punnet.

(Why is this interesting? Well there are only 25 cherries in a punnet you can do the math. That's a whopping £1.65 a cherry.

Seemingly the French "Glamour-edoa" cherries, are supposedly the only cherries grown naturally that are ripe enough to eat this early.  That said, my neighbour is picking cherries off his tree as I type.  I wonder if he'll sell me one for a couple of Euros.

As the Daily Mail wrote, "That's cherry expensive".)


20th May is Pick Your Own Strawberries Day.

We often call this kind of activity PYO.

Interesting People - Marjolein Geuens

Belgian, Marjolein Geuens is the 2014 Stella Artois World Draught Master.

(She pulled the best pint at the Draught Masters in Cannes, following the nine steps serving ritual:-

THE PURIFICATION The trademark Stella Artois chalice was specially designed to release the beer’s flavour and aroma. It should be cleaned with a non-fat-based detergent, and rinsed with cold water, so that the glass reaches the same temperature as the beer. THE SACRIFICE
The beer tap should be opened in one swift motion to let the first burst of foam flow away. The foam must never enter the glass, thus ensuring that every drop of Stella Artois is fresh.  THE LIQUID ALCHEMY
The chalice glass should be held at a 45-degree angle.   THE HEAD The glass should be straightened and lowered to create a foam head.   THE REMOVAL The tap should be closed in one quick action and the glass moved away from the font, to prevent any stray drops, which have come into contact with the air, and oxidized,  from falling into the gla…

Interesting Fact - School in the UK

The average size of class in a state school in the UK is 21.

(The average public school (that's the one you pay for) classroom contains 10 pupils.

The maximum size used to be 30, but the UK government recently relaxed rules so that class sizes can now be 31 or more, due to a rise in demand for places.

I taught a class of 31 adults once. That was fun.)

Interesting Word - Roll

A survey carried out by linguistics researchers at Manchester University found there were 7 different words for a bread roll in the UK.

(In the South it was generally called a roll.

In the North a bap or a bun.

In the North-west a barm, or a muffin.

In the Midlands a cob.

In Yorkshire a tea cake!

Now I'll go along with roll or a cob, but to me a bap is a softer, more floury bread roll, a muffin is an American cake, a bun is sweet and hopefully full of cream, and a tea cake is full of dried fruit and has to be toasted and served with lots of butter.)

Interesting Place - Italy

New rules have been introduced into jails in Italy; Italian prisoners will have their sentences reduced by three days for every book they read while in jail.

(They will be able to learn up to 48 days off a year, but will only be allowed to choose from a list of carefully selected books.

I guess that's what you would call, turning over a new leaf.

Interesting People - Dr Richard Hughes

Dr Hughes is interesting because scores of people queued round the block to say farewell and good luck to him when he announced his retirement.

(The practice was open for two hours on a Saturday so that his patients could say goodbye and thank him. He had served the community in Portsmouth since 1982 after doing his GP training there.
Would you queue up for 2 hours to thank your GP?)

Interesting Fact - Secrets

According to a survey commissioned by the distributors for the film The Fifth Estate, 92% of men consider themselves to be good at keeping secrets.

(However, thanks to social media, men now typically share a secret with someone within 3 hours of hearing it.

The top 10 secrets men can't keep?
A friend is having an affair.A friend lied about something.A boss/colleague is having an office romance.Someone is pregnant.Someone has been in trouble with the police.Someone was lying about their job or salary.Someone has had/is having plastic surgery.A friend has had a windfall.A friend/colleague is in financial trouble.A friend/colleague is having trouble in the bedroom department. (It takes women 3 and a half hours.)
Just don't forget the saying, "Two can keep a secret, if one of them doesn't know about it." )


14th May 2014 is Donate a Day's Wages to Charity Day (no use me doing that then - one day I'll be able to pay myself).

It's also Mark Zuckerberg's 30th birthday, but his salary is only $1.60 per year.

It's also Chicken Dance day.

You can decide which, if any to celebrate.

Interesting Fact - Spelling

According to research carried out by Oxford University Press, British children are struggling to write “simple, everyday words”.

(They are failing to spot the difference between words like “their” and “there” or “cloths” and “clothes”, to pick out silent letters or spot the difference between a single or double letter word.

The top spelling error was "accidentally", closely followed by "practising", “frantically” "definitely" and "believe".

Other common misspellings included words such as “surprise”, "excitement", "weird", "doesn't" and "minute”.

I can see I'm going to have to add some more spelling tests to the site.)

Interesting Fact - Honours and Awards

The honorary title the OBE (Order of the British Empire) was introduced in 1917 to recognise achievements at a local and national level, but any honour awarded isn't necessarily for life.

(The Honours Forfeiture Committee considers cases where a recipient's actions, "raise the question of whether they should be allowed to continue to be a holder of the honour". 33 people have been subsequently stripped of the award. This happens automatically to convicted criminals or people struck off professional bodies

The list includes:-

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu
Italy's Fascist leader Benito Mussolini
Former BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall after he was jailed for a series of sexual assaults on young girls.
Jockey Lester Piggott after being jailed in 1987 for tax fraud
Royal Bank of Scotland boss Fred Goodwin, although he hasn't actually been convicted of anything - yet.)


12th May 2014 is National Limerick Day.

There once was a poet called Lenny.
Whose limericks weren't worth a penny.
In technique they were sound,
Yet somehow he found
Whenever he tried to write any
He always wrote one line too many.

Interesting Fact - Cost of Living

According to the ONS, the average monthly rent in the UK, for private accommodation, was £854 per month.

(In Germany it's about €730.

How much is it where you live?)

Interesting Place - Japan

A Japanese restaurant has come up with a novel idea for lone diners. The Moomin House Café offers solo customers the company of a Moomin stuffed toy while they eat.

(The themed cafe offers biscuits, coffee art and even the wallpaper in the Moomin theme . Diners are even greeted by a Moomin character at the door.

Personally I would rather eat alone, discreetly.)

If you're not sure what a Moomin is:

Interesting Fact - English Exams

A new A-Level English course in the UK will look at the work of some more contemporary wordsmiths.

(These will include Russel Brand, Dizzee Rascal and Caitlin Moran.

Never mind Shakespeare, we won't forget you.)


9th May 2014 - Lost Sock Memorial Day

Here's a short story from the Magazine: An Odd Profession

Interesting Fact - Healthcare

A lot of people ask me about the "free" health care in the UK, and of course the NHS is something the people of the UK should be rightly proud of, but that's because the average taxpayer pays around £4,095 a year.
(It's cheap at half the price, because the alternative is people going without treatment.)

Interesting Fact - Work in the UK

According to the ONS (Office for National Statistics) there are 1.4m jobs in the UK offering zero hour contracts.

(Companies are, not surprisingly, attracted to the idea that they can hire staff without guaranteeing a minimum number of paid hours. 
 These "contracts" (emphasis on "con" deliberate), often tie a worker to a single firm, but do not guarantee any employment from week to week.)

Interesting Fact - Driving

According to a survey conducted by the AA, 63% of British drivers have used a map in the past six months.

(About a third (35%) of drivers in the UK said they use both sat navs, and an atlas as a back-up to plan a route - with just one in six (17%) relying solely on their sat nav. Unsurprisingly, younger drivers, aged 18 to 24, prefer to use just a sat nav.

Of course, a sat nav is still a map, really.)

Interesting Words - Thank you

According to an article in the Times, a "thank you" from your boss is worth the equivalent of £1,600 a year.
(That seems like a very expensive thank you. I'd rather have the £1,600 and a thank you. 
Saying thank you for working, is just good manners.)

Interesting Fact - Trees

According to a survey conducted by Sky Rainforest Rescue, 9 out of 10 Brits are unable to identify 5 common trees. Most were able to name 5 trees, but they couldn't recognise them when shown a picture.

(The survey found that many adults couldn't tell a maple tree from an oak or a fir, and nine out of ten people struggled to identify the pointed leaves and red berries of a holly tree. Many didn't even know where conkers come from, or that acorns grow on oaks.

Horse chestnut, maple oak tree? Never heard of them. And the worst of all the fir tree, traditionally put up in our homes for Christmas, caused confusion with more than 1 in 10 unable to name a picture of one. I guess it was unrecognisable without its clothes on. )

Interesting Fact - Families

According to a joint report published by Shelter and KPMG, within a generation, 50% of young Brits will be living with their parents beyond the age of 30.

(The main reason is Britain's acute housing shortage, and the spiraling  price of property.

100,000 fewer homes are currently built each year than are needed.  Of course, there's always the tiny house movement, but as British houses are already the smallest in Europe, they couldn't get much smaller.

The report also stated that if current trends continue, the average house price in England could double to £446,000 in 10 years.  Now that really scares me.  I'll never be able to afford to go back to the UK at this rate!)

Interesting Fact - The Law

A new law in Spain would require Spanish children under the age of 18 to be respectful to their parents and teachers, and have a positive attitude towards learning.

(They will also be required to help out with housework, regardless of age and gender", the ABC newspaper says. The rules come under a section of the law called "the rights and duties of children".

I guess that as most laws are written by men, they decided that if they have to do housework, everyone does (see previous fact). The new law doesn't say what the penalties would be for children who refuse to comply.)

Interesting Fact - Housework

Married men in Spain are required by law to do housework.

(An update to the marriage contract in 2005, added a clause requiring men to share in household duties, along with child care and caring for elderly relatives.

Personally, I think it's a bit silly to make it a law, as it should come naturally. All the Spanish men I know help out round the house, but I guess there was a reason it's now written in stone. Guys! No one wants a Tamagotchi for a husband.