This week’s pin-ups are Larry, the 10 Downing Street cat, and new kit on the block Freya the fat cat, who lives with the Osbornes in number 11. Possibly influenced by Andrew Mitchell, they had a bit of a tiff this week. I like to think Larry accused Freya’s daddy of fare dodging in First Class and she retaliated by calling him a pleb. Both cats have denied everything attributed to them.
Goodness knows what possessed me to download the Aretha Franklin version of Son of a Preacher Man at 6am on Thursday. But I did. I just had a sudden whim I wanted to listen to it on my way to Harefield Hospital.
So off I went on the train to London and fell asleep just south of Hertford.
Then, at Enfield, I woke with a start. A mysterious-looking Eastern European boy had sat next to me. He was listening to his iPod through loud headphones. And the song was unmistakable – Son of a Preacher Man. The Aretha version.
I found this a bit odd. It’s not exactly the best-known version, and I’ve still no idea why I’d had such a strong hunch I wanted to hear it.
But there was more to come.
When I arrived in Uxbridge, I popped into a cafe for lunch. What was playing in the background? Yes – That very song. That very version.
I half expected to get to Harefield and for Aretha Franklin to pop out from behind the ECG machine and reveal she’d become a cardiologist. But she didn’t. Just as well. I’d have probably had a heart attack.
As it was, the consultant said my heart was sounding ‘beautiful’ and all was well.
I must admit, I was dreading an answerphone message when I got home, saying something had happened to a long-lost schoolfriend who was, literally, the son of a preacher man. Yes he was, he was, oh yes he was.
But thankfully there was nothing, so I’m assuming he’s OK.
Just 100 Cod Left in North Sea declared the Telegraph the other day. How did they count them? I wondered. And how on earth could there just be 100? Then the Sunday Times proclaimed there were only 100 Adult Cod in North Sea. ‘Oh my Cod, it can’t be true,’ I thought to myself.
But then the BBC came to the rescue with North Sea cod: Is it true there are only 100 left?
It turns out that the Sunday Times was defining an adult cod as a ‘cod over 13’, assuming that your typical cod lives to 25.
‘That’s not merely an adult cod,’ reveals the BBC investigation. ‘It’s an ancient cod.’
Apparently, a cod’s a proper grown-up by the age of six. So you’ll be relieved to know that there are a lot more than 100 adult cod in the North Sea.
There are actually 21 million.
Thank Cod for that.
This week’s pin-ups are Buttons and Kitty, rescued by Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home They were put together for company as babies and now think of themselves as brother and sister. They eat, sleep and play together. As far as I know, they haven’t taught each other how to bark and miaow … yet.
‘That looks like a nice tart,’ beamed the nice French lady in Maison Bertaux looking at my iPhone wallpaper pic. ‘Did you bake it yourself?’
‘No,’ I replied. ‘It’s my cat.’
On closer inspection, she realised that it was indeed my chat Bollinger. Boll and I have been chuckling about it all evening.
Uranus, viewed through the Subaru Telescope on Hawaii
As the nights draw in, console yourself with the fact that you don’t live on the north or south pole of the planet Uranus.
Because Uranus tilts at an extreme angle of 97%, each pole experiences 42 years in darkness as it points away from the Sun, then 42 years of continuous light.
Odd thought. If you lived to 84 and were born at the start of the Sun cycle, you’d live the first half of your life bathed in sunlight, then the second half in complete darkness. A metaphor for life, some might say.
But if you lived beyond 84, the Sun would return at the end.
Or it could be the opposite way round – 42 years in darkness, followed by 42 in the Sun. I think I’d prefer that.
But you lived beyond 84, the darkness would ominously come back to overshadow your final years.
Not that you’d want to live there anyway. Uranus has ridiculously strong gravity. The atmosphere consists of hydrogen, helium, methane and ammonia. And it has a temperature of minus 216 degrees Celsius.