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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.

We were musketeers once, and young

Long, ‘lost’ sequel to The Three Musketeers, reviewed.

For The Spectator


The honorary freedom of the borough of Rye in Sussex confers upon the freemen the privilege of kissing the mayoress.

The Nelson Evening Mail, March 21 1907

When you register your child at birth, it immediately becomes the legal property of the state.

In WW2 German physicists were able to discern the weather conditions in London from the tolling of Big Ben broadcast on the BBC.

Male kangaroos flex their biceps to impress their females.

Sir Nicholas Gimcrack died from a fever brought on by chasing a butterfly.

A man in Thailand believes a 10-foot cobra is the reincarnation of his deceased girlfriend. They go to the gym together.

Former England rugby hooker Brian Moore is a qualified nail manicurist.

In February 1643, Dutch colonists massacred members of the Lenape tribe at Bowling Green.

When Samuel Beckett’s eyesight faded he played his favourite golf courses from memory.

They have the Queen’s English in Inverness.

Award-winning children’s author Anthony McGowan once lost two children while drunk in charge of a creche.

‘post-truth’ is now included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die.

All people who like musical theatre are divs.