Thursday, May 31, 2012

Words of the day

The FT has some good acronyms for worries over Europe. In addition to the awful "Grexit" (the possible Greek exit from the Euro), it now has "Spanic" (panic over Spain), "Spaindemonium" and "Squit" (Spain quitting the Euro).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flower of the day

Monday, May 28, 2012


An erstwhile Cabinet Secretary was taking over the post under Mrs Thatcher. He asked his predecessor if he had any tips for him. "Yes!" the other man exclaimed. "Mrs T likes to make dramatic entrances and exits from Cabinet meetings. She is always the first in and the first out. You will be seated on her right. Between your chairs will be her handbag. Do not make the mistake I once did of inadvertently putting your chair leg over the handle of the bag!"

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sculptures of the season

Here are two renditions of Myron's Discobolos which he originally made in bronze in the fifth century BC. One is a Roman copy made in the second century AD, the other an interpretation by Sui Jianguo, Professor of Sculpture at Beijing University. What do you think of the Chinese version?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Demographics of the day

The US Census Bureau says that in 2011 minority babies outnumbered white newborns for the first time in US history. The percentage of white babies fell to 49.6% of children under one from April 2010 to July 2011.Hispanic and Asian populations in the US have surged by over 40% since 2000 and Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas have majority minority populations. Non-Hispanic whites are now 63.4% of the total US population.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


A quick visit to the south of France was just what my dear friend (I'm not allowed to call her my "old" friend) Jane and I needed to escape the storms of life and of England. We managed to sunbathe in sweltering heat on the sheltered side of Cap d'Antibes whilst the trees of Juan les Pins were horizontal in the howling Mistral just a couple of miles away. The holiday was not without hiccoughs, however. The 7am EasyJet flight from Bristol to Nice was our obvious choice, hand luggage only. The theory was fine but the practice of getting up a 4am, Jane stuffing a couple of last minute pairs of shoes into her already tight bag and then discovering that there really was no way around the airline poicy of not allowing a handbag as well as a travel bag did test our mettle. "Please put your bag into the metal case to prove that it is within the authorised size limits," was the high command from the stewardess. Jane took her at her word, pushing the bag in with all her strength, with the result that it became well and truly stuck. We pulled and we shoved until we were red in the face, with Jane lamenting the fact that Bristol airport was sorely lacking in gallant men, and, ten minutes later, the bag popped out intact, contrary to all expectations. The return journey was also not without its dramas. We'd hired a small Citroen which had managed to get through the narrow streets of the mediaeval hill village, St Paul de Vence, with about half a centimetre to spare on either side of the wing mirrors. When we left for the airport in the glorious sunshine, however, I drove around a corner and heard a scrunch. In my haste, I'd scraped the side on a wall. Aargh! Jane, of course, had been enjoying a little shopping in France and there was absolutely no way that her new purchases along with her handbag would fit into her travel bag. She is very clever though and had bought a new handbag made of cheery flowery cotton which she carried as if it were a scarf. Meanwhile her bag was zipped on its outer limits and wouldn't have fitted in any test case. "Is your bag within the permitted size?" the stewardess asked her. "It's the same bag that I brought over as hand luggage," Jane replied with a winning smile. We got through, sans probleme.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Jokes of the day

Two 90 year old men, Dai and Emrys, have been best friends all their lives. When it’s clear that Emrys is dying, Dai visits him every day and says, “Emrys, we both loved rugby for so many years and played every Saturday. Please do me a favour when you get to heaven and somehow let me know if there’s any rugby up there.” Emrys looks up at Dai from his deathbed and says, “Dai, you’ve been my best friend all these years, if it’s at all possible, I’ll do this favour for you.” Shortly afterwards, Emrys passes away. At midnight a couple of days later, Dai is awoken by a flash of light and somebody calling, “Dai, Dai!” “Who is it?” asks Dai, sitting up in bed with a jolt. “Who is it?” “Dai, it’s me, Emrys!” “You’re not Emrys! Emrys just died.” “I’m telling you, it’s me, Emrys! ” the voice insisted. “Emrys! Where are you?” “In heaven,” replied Emrys, “and I have some really good news and a bit of bad news.” “Tell me the good news first,” says Dai. “The good news is there’s rugby in heaven!” said Emrys. “And all our friends who died before us are playing and, even better, we’re all young and it’s always springtime and it never rains or snows. Best of all, we can play rugby all we want and we never get tired.” “That’s fantastic!” said Dai, “It’s beyond my wildest dreams! So what’s the bad news?” “You’re in the team for Tuesday.” Merkozy is dead. Welcome to Merde (Today's FT)