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More than 6000 editions of the “Imitation of Christ”, ascribed to Thomas a Kempis, have been issued in the past 400 years.

The Nelson Evening Mail, January 21 1907

The record for the fastest hole in golf is 32.7 seconds.

Acres of quiet farmland set a peaceful scene.

‘Bert’ is like a maniac’s name.

Nurses in American hospitals read magazine articles on anal foreplay.

In Covent Garden there is a chocolate elephant that costs £900.

Not all Sinhalese people beat up Muslims.

Smooth Radio has a playlist of approximately eight songs.

The commander of the SAS unit in the 1980 Iranian embassy hostage crisis was called Hector.

Only 5% of reality is explained.

There are people who watch WWE wrestling and believe that it is real.

A 40-year-old woman has set off metal detectors in Athens airport, by wearing a chastity belt.

Tarjei Vesaas was nominated for a Nobel Prize thirty times.

It is unforgivable to be good only at your subject.


Throughout Denmark there is not one person over 10 years of age who cannot read or write.

The Nelson Evening Mail, September 4 1906

There is a whale whose voice is too low to communicate with other whales.

Seatbelts do not statistically improve your chances of surviving a car accident.

London’s Mithraic temple is buried deep beneath the new European headquarters of Bloomberg, the financial information company.

Aeneas and Euclid are both in limbo.

The name Lezard is not a Basque name.

One human male ejaculation contains enough sperm to impregnate every fertile female in the Western world.

All traditions must start somewhere.

Bell’s whisky doesn’t make you want to drink Bell’s whisky

Daniel O’Donnell will go live on Facebook from his show in Branson, MO, today.

We have no choice but to believe in free will.

The administration of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi has charged dozens of Burmese civil-society activists under a law that restricts criticism of the government.

The nation is divided over the John Lewis Christmas ad.

Clichés are piss.

Mortality 101 – or; Catullus at the graveside

The Oldie runs my poem for the Armistice commemorations.

For The Oldie

I ink, therefore I am

On the choice and acquisition of my one and only tattoo.

For The Oldie


The average salary of professors at Dublin University is £530.

The Nelson Evening Mail, March 14 1907

The persecution of Christians is now worse than at any time in history.

Toto’s ‘Africa’ is one of Myleene Klass’s all-time favourites.

The Hillsborough disaster is still in the news.

Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan military and political leader, liberated Colombia.

The quern performs best when the grindstone has been pitted.

Not everything in life is a $20 jerk-job.

In the ten years of the ‘Cultural Revolution’, the Chinese population increased by 200 million.

Kevin Spacey has always been gay.

Quite a few forests have no trees to speak of.

Orlando is a thoroughly disconnected short novel by the famously unreadable and wildly overrated Virginia Woolf, whose long-suffering husband was a colonial civil servant in Ceylon.

The odds on a white Christmas have been slashed to 2/1.

Nobody ever sits in a badly-lit cellar holding the day’s newspaper for a camera without feeling fear.

Legoland Windsor is full.


The Queen won a first prize for bantams at the King’s Lynn Fur and Feather Society’s show.

The Nelson Evening Mail, January 6 1909

In LA there is a chess set designed for the East India Company, featuring Sikh soldiers vs Afghans.

Among a certain kind of people, being ‘passionate about Israel/Palestine’ is usually a substitute for having any actual political thought.

During WWII, in Germany, a Django Reinhardt record was worth 2kgs of butter on the black market.

A sailor has a tattoo of a swallow for every 5,000 nautical miles he has travelled.

Sam Lewis Craft has been named the Rain Men Player of the Year.

Alfred the Great of England believed that a thorough grounding in the liberal arts was essential for those called to exercise judgement and authority.

A South Benfleet millionaire has revealed how she earns £1,472/hr.

A town in Iceland has painted 3D zebra crossings in an attempt to slow down speeding cars.

Bobby Kennedy had an affair with Marilyn Monroe, then had her killed by Communists.

Truth is harder to bear than ignorance, and so ignorance is valued more.

Brett Dean’s new opera, Hamlet, contains precisely zero tunes.

The Fuegian word ‘mamihlapintafoi’ means ‘(two people) looking at each other, hoping that either will offer to do something which both parties desire but are unwilling to do’.

In 2017 over half the people living in absolute poverty work for a living.


All over China temples have been turned into schools with surprising alacrity.

The Nelson Evening Mail, July 26 1906

The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk.

Though rare, there have been exactly 201 documented cases of spontaneous combustion.

J Sainbury plc is cutting 2000 Human Resources employees.

The collective noun for brown anchovies is a ‘finish’.

Typing and playing the piano can wear your fingerprints away.

Actors cheers each other up by exchanging bad reviews.

When a ship sinks, the crew are released from their oath of loyalty to the captain.

Translator and poet Paul Celan committed suicide in 1970.

It’s Van Month this October at Renault.

Just because it’s in the Guardian doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

The men of Crete are mostly fair, very tall, sometimes gigantic.

It looks very much as if Everton will be looking for a new manager in the morning.

Without George W Bush there would have been no President Trump.

Chinese food (after Jung Chang)

Ancient Chinese proverb

The most capable woman cannot make a meal without food.

Chinese Communist Party saying

A capable woman can make a meal without food.


Only about three in every hundred amateur novel-writers find their way into print, except at their own expense.

The Nelson Evening Mail, January 22 1907


The erection of a verandah is a useful way to extend one’s living quarters.

Seven American states observe Abraham Lincoln’s birthday as a public holiday.

There is only one Tunumiisut-French grammar.

Anne Watson has just moved to university here, and right now really needs money to live. She is willing to go on a date – and has massive breasts.

There is a shark that can live for 400 years.

In 1945 the Soviet Union took the side of Chiang Kai-shek against the Chinese communists.

What in Britain is called the Special Relationship, in Germany is called treason.

Working-class people swear a lot.

At birth, a baby’s focal distance is not much more than 20cm.

In a recent survey, atheists and agnostics knew the most about religion. In second place were Mormons; third Jews; and then all other forms of Christianity.

Barack Obama is Irish.

The revolution will not be printed in Comic Sans.

The word ‘acrylic’ does not benefit from repetitive translation.

We were soldiers, once

How I went from Oxford choral scholar to British Army squaddie (in just under a dozen years).

For The Oldie