Monthly Archives: March 2007

Bluecoats School

a pic I took on a nice spring day this week

How Many of You Are There?

I’ve just discovered an extraordinary fact.
There are 84 thousand Ians in the USA. Ian is the 579th most popular US name. And 99.9% of USA Ians are male. If my terrible maths serves me right, that means there are 84 female Ians.
There are also 24 thousand American Peacocks, but a mere seven Ian Peacocks.
I discovered this on the brilliant How Many of Me? Why not try your own name and discover how common you are?

Dick Dick – Silly Name Googlewhacking

I’ve invented a new displacement activity – googlewhacking names on How Many of Me?
I tried Bert Snodgrass first and discovered there are two of them.
Then I tried my mum’s cousin in New York whose real name is Ranulph de roos Norman, and was told he didn’t exist and that there are no Ranulphs at all in America. Wrong.
Then I hit lucky with Dick Dick. A mere one. Hurrah.
But my absolute favourite was Kitty Bollinger. Yes. There’s someone (only one) in the USA with that name. Bolly and I were most amused and intend to track her down. I have an inkling that she’s a grand old lady living in New England, but who knows?

Herb Horror

I had a terrible crisis last night. I accidentally put a pot of fresh basil in the fridge and it died. This meant I had to eat my Waitrose vine tomatoes without basil, which no human being should have to do.

Basil is wondrous. The French call it the royal herb. Some Africans believe it protects you against scorpions. Greek Orthodox churches use it in holy water and around altars (according to tradition, basil was found outside Christ’s tomb). And in India, basil leaves are placed in the mouths of the dead to ensure a safe journey into the afterlife.

Basil Fawlty

Basil Rathbone

St Basil the Great

Basil Brush


By the way, if you’re American, please pronounce ‘basil’ as ‘basil’ and not ‘bayzel’, and ‘herb’ as ‘herb’ and not ‘urb’. It has an ‘h’. Haven’t you noticed??? Haven’t you?????
While I’m on this subject…
If you’re British, please note – ‘h’ is pronounced ‘aitch’ and not, I repeat not, ‘haitch’. You drop the ‘h’ in ‘h’.
As for ‘historic’ – where you traditionally drop the ‘h’ – tricky one. I prefer ‘an istoric’ to ‘a historic’ but I think it’s now up for grabs. I noticed the BBC used both on Monday.
I also prefer ‘an otel’ to ‘a hotel’, but I guess that’s a bit old-fashioned.
But ‘urbs’ – no. This is wrong and deeply evil.

The First Sneeze of Spring

I’m happy to announce that spring has officially arrived. For some, this is indicated by harbingers such as cuckoos or groundhogs. But for me, spring is heralded by my first hayfever sneeze. This year, it occurred at 3.17 pm on Sunday 25th. And the momentous event was captured for posterity, as I happened to be in front of an open microphone recording a programme. It was, in my view, a classic sneeze and I hereby offer it to anyone requiring an authentic sneeze sound-effect.
Listen to the First Sneeze of Spring

Top Cat

Thank you to this week’s Herts Mercury for catapulting Bollinger to even dizzier heights of feline fame.

Boll was joined in the Mercury by her friend Shirley Basset, who used to live next door. I spotted Shirley modelling in an article about Pet Week at Photography by Louise on St Andrew Street.

Tut Tut

‘Our stunning Egyptian themed room is draped with golden fabrics. Ancient relics, gilded sarcophagi and hieroglyphics envelop you throughout your dream’ announced the website of the Talardy Hotel in St Asaph in Wales.
When I arrived on a short trip this week, I was alarmed to find a sphynx presiding over my kettle, hieroglyphs on the headboard, twin Tutankhamun death masks on either side of my bed and a sarcophagus next to my complimentary Hobnobs.
After checking the wardrobe for mummies, I almost felt safe. But I did worry slightly about waking up in the middle of the night and thinking I’d been buried alive in a pyramid.
The hotel was actually very good, with excellent food, and I’d thoroughly recommend it if you visit that part of Wales.