It’s strange how much you didn’t know you didn’t know. Take today for instance. I read that someone has actually worked out how much the Euro 04 craze for flying the flag of St George on cars is costing the motorist. The boffins at MIRA have calculated that the added drag and the disturbance caused to the car’s aerodynamics costs 1 mpg per flag.

Someone else has taken this further by estimating that the average car driven 12,000 miles, and at an average 40 mpg, and if one in nine cars has a flag, then total cost per week in extra fuel is £1.62 million a week. We’re into week two now and if England go all the way to the final then flying the flag will have collectively cost us the best part of £5 million.

Useful stuff to know, you’ll agree. Then on the same page of the newspaper, I read that the phrase ‘needle in a haystack’ doesn’t refer to a sewing needle at all, but is in fact a thatching needle, a wooden tool used for thatching hay and straw rick. If dropped between hay or straw sheaves, it would be almost impossible to find.

Next, why is a jukebox called a jukebox? It’s from the Elizabethan word jouk, meaning to dodge or move quickly to describe the first glass-sided, cylinder recording model invented by John C Dunton.

That penicillin come from the Latin penicilla — little paintbrushes — because that’s what the spores look like.

And finally, that stage name Le Petomane used by Joseph Pujol, who made music by breaking wind, loosely translates as “the fartiste.” Who’d a thowt it!

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

1 comment… Add yours
  • Trevor Rowley 12th January 2012

    Shortly after completing my senior schooling, I transferred (within the same organisation) from my job in a textile design studio where the working atmosphere generated by both sexes was rather gentile (but not unpleasant) to the all male world of sales. Here, the “anything goes” atmosphere prevailed and the air was often blue with ribald fun and rudity. One day, one of the more mature members of staff made reference to a recording that he had at home (perhaps it was on vinyl) called “The Grand Farting Contest”. No one believed him and, despite his best efforts, we remained totally unconvinced. Move on a few years (mid-1960s) and a discussion in the pub prompted a friend to reveal that he was aware of the recording – by this stage, I was fairly convinced that it must be true but the remainder refused to believe it. Roll on a few more years (1970s?) and Leonard Rossiter (?) played the part of said French entertainer in a TV film about his “career”. Roll on a few more years (today) and a quick ferret about on the internet reveals more than a suggestion that a recording entitled “The Great Crepitation Contest” was produced in Canada in the late 1940s by sound engineers belonging to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

    Just goes to show that you should always follow your instincts (including your nose) as there would appear to be a market for all talents.


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