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By a recent edict, the cultivation of opium in China must cease entirely by the year 1917 The crop is reduced by one-tenth each year, and all those using opium in 1917 will be banished.

— The Nelson Evening Mail, June 14 1907

The Sports Direct on Baker Street has actually closed down.

A fifty-five-legged creature would be a pentekaipentekontapus.

The best way to praise a poet is to write a poem.

Truth is truth and nothing which you can report can affect it in any way, though it may excite the emotions and allay the curiosity of a number of very ineffectual people.

The supposition that it is necessary to feed the Cobra Lily a piece of hamburger or an insect daily is erroneous.

Pairs of prime numbers that are 6 apart are known as ‘sexy primes’.

The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton.

A man will don his jacket in the same way every day.

It takes thirty seconds to have a dream and thirty minutes to recount it.

Eight billionaires currently possess as much wealth as the world’s 3.6bn poorest inhabitants.

The United States Dictionary of Occupational Titles does not account for being a ‘Philosopher’.

Scuba divers roll backwards off boats because if they rolled forwards they would just go into the boat.

The code words in the system are pure guesswork. 


A lady of limited means residing in the country says that her garden clothes herself and her daughter.

— The Nelson Evening Mail, August 31 1906

There is a typo in Punjabi birth certificates.

Since January 2013, a Russian cruise ship has been drifting unmanned in the North Atlantic.

Toxic trolls are pushing Vicky and Ferne too far.

Jan Ladislav Dussek is the fattest composer on records.

The 50th Annual Spring Lunch of the Concrete Society (London & South East Region) will be held this Friday at the KIA Oval. Tickets £90+VAT.

Richard Dawkins’ real first name is ‘Clinton’.

In the 1600s, some doctors recommended their patients fart in jars to help treat exposure to the bubonic plague.

Only one person can make instant coffee at a time.

In sudden leaps the flexible tiger appears.

A Melchizedek holds the equivalent of 40 standard bottles of wine.

Reasons for admission to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (1864-1889) included ‘bad whiskey’, ‘masturbation for 30 years’, and ‘novel reading’.

Every Mother’s Day needs a Mother’s Night.

Americans do not have kettles.


There are always 1,200,000 people afloat on the seas of the world.

— The Nelson Evening Mail, January 22 1907

It is a German conceit, that the vertebrae are absolutely undeveloped skulls.

Vladivostock is 1000km east of Beijing.

The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association allows for two spaces after a full stop in draft manuscripts, but recommends one space in published work.

Journalists are suicide merchants.

A dachshund has never won Crufts.

A lawyer representing an alleged arsonist has set his trousers on fire.

Iceland has an official Naming Committee which rules on the validity of children’s names.

The piccolo is known as ‘Satan’s instrument’.

Sri Lanka has 94 members of parliament without any O Levels.

The official Nudie Jeans Online Shop has the best selection of Nudie Jeans denim.

Sick Boy’s real name in Trainspotting was Simon Williamson.

Kurt Franz, final commandant of the Treblinka death camp, kept an album of his time there titled ‘Beautiful Years’.

It is never worth pointing out the irony. In life. To anyone. Ever.


Fifty-one per cent of the foreigners in England live in London.

— The Nelson Evening Mail, July 28 1906

International rugby union referee Nigel Owens wears Superman pants while he’s officiating.

The Iraqi army is about to defeat Islamic State.

There’s no playbook for how to be a guy.

In 1947 a United States Congressional report titled ‘Fascism in Action’ listed Alexander Hamilton as an intellectual inspiration for the Nazis.

One in three jumps races this season have been won by five or more lengths.

Joseph Stalin’s granddaughter runs an antique shop in Portland, OR.

The first wicket ever taken by the Authors CC was a stumping off a wide ball.

In Hong Kong, Masters of the High Court are addressed as ‘Master’.

Wagner never owned his own jet.

The tropical Rafflesia arnoldii reproduces with the help of ants and carrion flies.

Put an upside-down saucer in a pan of milk and it won’t boil over.

Successful applicants to the BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme could find themselves working on Victoria Derbyshire.

The new Charles Dickens book is now available.


When my wife’s not here
I use her toothbrush as
a beard-comb.


Though Russia is fast developing her oil lands, the United States produces more petroleum than all the rest of the world.

— The Nelson Evening Mail, June 22 1912

In English maritime law a ship is not ‘wrecked’ if the cat survives.

Ezra Pound heard many performances of the Bellringers’ Guild.

Kale is a winter vegetable.

Napoleon’s troops shot the nose off the Egyptian sphinx for target practice.

If you put a chameleon on tartan it will explode.

You are twice as likely to crash while texting than drink-driving. (So if you need to send an urgent text, put an inebriated friend behind the wheel, instead.)

1% of marmalade sales are to people under 28.

Beauty and the Beast isn’t the first Disney movie for LGBT audiences.

The Welsh character is an interesting study.

John Travolta is 63 years old.

Turtles find it very difficult to look happy.

You never know with clowns.

Canadian passports have images of ice hockey in them.


A man is generally at his heaviest in his 40th year.

— The Nelson Evening Mail, October 10 1906

The Museum of Emotions in London has a game with yes/no answers.

Adolf Hitler fixed the Nazi Party registrations, to make it seem they had more members than they did.

The endnotes to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest comprise their own entire audiobook.

Vandals put lives at risk.

The ‘Blue Danube’ waltz is played on a radio station somewhere in the world every minute of the day and night.

The English county of Midsomer has the highest murder rate of any non-metropolitan area in the UK.

Barns are typically painted red because of nuclear fusion.

In France a few yards of silk can make a nobleman.

The Cutty Sark was still in service in 1953.

‘Orientation’ comes from the fact that the earliest Western maps placed the East at the top, putting Paradise in pole position.

Public procurement expenditure accounts for nearly 50% of the Afghan budget.

The weather in Northern Ireland is always fine.

Girls have a higher chance of getting pregnant than boys.


In many parts of Africa gin is the only currency.

— The Nelson Evening Mail, January 6 1909

James Ramsay MacDonald became Prime Minister of Great Britain three times.

Water is a better conductor of sound than air.

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.

Maurice Ravel was responsible for the creation of Led Zeppelin.

Being a policeman ranks below farming, fishing, and being a binman in the UK’s list of most dangerous jobs.

The first actor to play Tinky Winky in Teletubbies was sacked for incorrectly interpreting the role.

Socrates outlawed the sale of black liquorice in a just society.

To be ‘hairy heeled’, meaning ill bred, comes from bloodstock breeding. A racehorse should not have too much hair about the fetlocks.

The Swiss Army has accidentally invaded Liechtenstein three times.

If you hear there’s a unicorn in a wood, don’t go there with a virgin.

American novelist Paul Auster has two books on his nightstand. He has finished both of them.

84% of people think that political correctness has gone mad.

Not all contemporary poets are from the North.


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Hisperica famina

The frothing sea surrounds the world
and beats earth’s borders with its rushing waves.
Its storm-wall claws the rocky foreshore,
ploughs the bed with thumping crests,
strewing shingled foam in starry furrows,
ever-shaken by its thunderous blast.