Tuesday, 28 September 2010

And here's something else you might not know...

There was a recent news report that some doctors are campaigning for the introduction of plastic glasses only in pubs. This is to reduce the number of injuries caused by glassing apparently. Now I have never glassed anyone and have no immediate plans to do so, but it so happens that I do know, in theory anyway, how to break the bottom off a beer bottle so that it can be used as an improvised weapon just as they used to do in films but no longer seem to. It seems that just smashing the thing against the nearest hard surface will cause the bottle to shatter completely in your hand and as you are clutching it tightly this causes nastiness to your palm. Now I’m not going to tell you how to it, I’m not Frederick Forsythe, but I merely use it as an example of the odd bits of information I’ve picked up over the years. I know the correct lights that a ship should show while sailing at night and used to be able to tie a bowline knot one-handedly. I know, thanks to a couple of medical students, the most painful thing you can do to a man and owing to my intense conviction that it would come up as a jackpot question in a pub quiz, the registration number of the car that Patrick McGoohan is driving in the opening credits of The Prisoner. On matters of pronunciation I know, thanks to one of my brothers, how to pronounce the name of the Norse god Odin correctly and thanks to George Bernard Shaw that the words ghoti and fish can be pronounced the same way. I know the fates of the six wives of Henry VIII and at a push I can remember the accomplishments that were required before you could join the men of Finn Mac Cool, legendary hero of Old Ireland. I freely admit that some of this knowledge may be of limited use.

For there is a hierarchy in knowledge. Knowing the names of all the actors who have played Dr Who is an accomplishment that is, on the whole, held in a degree of contempt. Knowing the names of all the players who scored winning goals in a football team’s championship wins is at worst seen as being a bit keen. Being able to name all the books in the Apocrypha makes you a theologian and understanding the ramifications of the salic law makes you a mediaevalist. My father knew how to manumit a slave which, along with a few other details, made him a barrister.

Well I think that knowledge should be equal. Let us put aside these old prejudices and admit to being proud that you know the names of everyone who performed at Woodstock or all the lyrics to Bony M’s Rasputin or the solution to every Sherlock Holmes mystery. Let's call an end to this apartheid style segregation of useless knowledge and three cheers for mnemonics.

Oh, and if you want to know which host of which tea-time quiz show also played James Bond, give me a shout.


  1. I think you'll find the spelling of that pop group you mention is actually 'Boney', Mr C. I didn't actually know that, naturally, it was Bob Holness who told me.

  2. I misheard him what with the saxophone solo from 'Baker Street' being played so loud.