The man responsible for Wednesday
In this blogposting...
* Pancake Day
* Leap Year and all that
* Hildie’s Joke
* The Legs of Lyon
* Pancake Day
* Leap Year and all that
* Hildie’s Joke
* The Legs of Lyon
* ArgentinaGo on - I dare you...
Did you celebrate Pancake Day? How many did you get through?
(However often I visit France, I just can’t bring myself to call them crepes.)
I have to make an unpatriotic admission here. Much though I love English pancakes, I very much prefer the 'Scotch' variety - ‘drop scones’. My goodness. So delicious that they ought to be illegal. I managed 7.
My preferred option
FEEDBACK(on the Comments box of posting 341)
That really is one of the most extraordinary trails of bad luck I’ve ever heard. I’m afraid it’s perfectly obvious that there’s either something you’re not doing or something you’re doing wrong - although I can’t imagine what this can be. You aren’t a member of some ungodly cult, are you? Have you broken several mirrors recently?
I would take Sid’s advice, if I were you. Make it your business to touch a lot of wood in the very near future.
I’m so glad I’m not the only one sentimental enough to maintain the magpie traditions of my youth. Although it does mean, as you say, that we spend an unconscionable amount of time asking after the wellbeing of birds who couldn’t care less about ours (touch wood).
And I suppose - in a generous light - the superstition about bees could be seen as an early recognition of something we now know to be true: that they are much cleverer than we might tend to give them credit for.
So frustratingly, though predictably, inexact is the Earth’s wayward orbit around the Sun that, every four years, the naked apes that swarm over its surface must needs add an extra day to ‘make up the numbers’. If we didn’t do this, we would eventually end up celebrating Christmas in high summer (as the benighted folk of Australia already have to) and stripping down to our bikinis in mid-November.
Making every fourth year a day longer doesn’t quite do the trick either, of course. This is because each ‘lunisolar’ year is slightly less than 365.25 days long and adding a day every four years would thus cause our distant descendants no end of inconvenience and confusion.
Which is why, if a year is divisible by 100, it isn’t a Leap Year unless it’s divisible by 400. 1900 wasn’t a Leap Year; 2000 was.
Even this isn’t precise. Someone whose job I want has worked out that, in 8,000 years, the calendar will still be one day out of kilter.
Researching this bit of esoterica sent me up many pleasurable, calendar-related, cul-de-sacs. Why, for example (I found myself asking), are days so unevenly distributed amongst the months of our Roman calendar? Why are there so many months luxuriating with 31 days while poor, weak, palsy-stricken February has to make do with (usually) just 28?
As with so many aspects of civilisation (including, incredibly, the distance between the lines on almost all the world’s railways), the blame can be laid squarely at the door of the aforementioned Romans.
The Roman year began, sensibly, on March 1 and the months ran predictably and alternately with 31 then 30 days, which left lowly February - the last month of the Roman year - with 29 days (or 30 in a Leap Year). The months from March still follow this pattern as far as July.
The Emperor Augustus changed all that though. July had been named after Julius Caesar and Augustus wanted the following month - in the height of summer - named after him and to have 31 days, like July has.
Being disinclined to argue the point, the Emperor’s calendar-wallahs immediately changed everyone’s lives forever by adding an extra day to August and taking one off February.
That one man had the ultimate ego-massaging power to alter the calendar is incredible enough; that we still conform to his vainglorious edicts, even more so.
My tireless and selfless researches on this subject also unearthed this excellent titbit on Wikipedia...
La Bougie du Sapeur, first published in 1980, is a humorous French newspaper published every February 29 - that is, once every four years. Its next edition will be on February 29, 2012. There have been eight editions of this newspaper to date.
The newspaper's name (literally, ‘The Candle of the Sapper’) is derived from a comics character, the sapper Camember, created by Georges Colomb in the 1890s. In the story, Camember was born on February 29; so, when recruited into the army, he was 'just five years old'...
The paper was founded by Jacques Debuisson and Christian Bailly. Its editor in chief is Jean d'Indy. Each edition is printed in 200,000 copies.
In 2004, the seventh edition was accompanied by a Sunday special designed to be published on every February 29 that falls on a Sunday - once every 28 years. The next edition of the Sunday special is scheduled to be published on Sunday, February 29, 2032.
Profits of the 2008 edition went to a charity devoted to autism.
It is possible to subscribe to this newspaper, 100 euros for an entire century.
How wonderful is that!
I will be in France on this upcoming Leap Day and will do everything in my limited power to obtain a copy of La Bougie du Sapeur on all our behalves.
HILDIE’S JOKE: MURDER AT TESCO
Hildie sent me this recently - and I for one don’t blame her for wanting to be rid of it.
Tired of constantly being broke and stuck in an unhappy marriage, a young husband
decided to solve both problems by taking out a large insurance policy on his wife with himself as the beneficiary, and then arranging to have her killed.
A 'friend of a friend' put him in touch with a nefarious dark-side underworld figure who went by the name of 'Artie.'
Artie then explained to the husband that his going price for snuffing out a spouse was £5,000.
The husband said he was willing to pay that amount, but that he wouldn't have any cash on hand until he could collect his wife's insurance money.
Artie insisted on being paid at least something upfront, so the man opened his wallet, displaying the single £1 coin that rested inside. Artie sighed, rolled his eyes, & reluctantly agreed to accept the £1 as down payment for the dirty deed.
A few days later, Artie followed the man's wife to the local Tesco Superstore. There, he surprised her in the produce department and proceeded to strangle her with his gloved hands. And the poor unsuspecting woman drew her last breath and slumped to the floor........
The manager of the produce department stumbled unexpectedly onto the murder scene. Unwilling to leave any living witnesses behind, Artie had no choice but to strangle the produce manager as well.
However, unknown to Artie, the entire proceedings were captured by the hidden security cameras and observed by the store's security guard, who immediately called the police. Artie was caught and arrested before he could even leave the store.
Under intense questioning at the police station, Artie revealed the whole sordid plan, including his unusual financial arrangements with the hapless husband, who was also quickly arrested.
The next day in the newspaper, the headline declared ....
(You're going to hate me for this .... )
'ARTIE CHOKES 2 FOR £1.00 AT TESCO!'
THE LEGS OF LYON
Modern sculpture is often rightly criticised for being needlessly inexplicable. This one, though, needs no explanation. It stands proudly outside the Opera House in Lyon.
THE WORLD: ARGENTINA
The next port-of-call on our worldwide geographical tour-de-force will be Argentina - the only country on Earth that’s been told not to cry. As usual, I’ll be very grateful for any offbeat and unexpected information you can find or already know. What do they eat there? How do they insult each other? What’s at Number One? What are they really good at?
Send me an email....
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