The West Highland Free Press was founded in 1972 as a local, campaigning newspaper. To slightly misrepresent the Free Software Foundation’s philosophical aphorism, the paper is ‘free’ as in the sense of free speech, not in the sense of free beer; clearly a subtlety lost to some of the area’s tourist hordes…
When I was a kid my dad used to take me to watch Kendal United play football. That was because a doctor had told my folks that, as an ill child, I needed lots of fresh air.
I was probably about six when I came home after one game and asked mum “How old do you have to be before you can swear?”. Her reply was “You’re never old enough!” and that was when I ratted on him: “But daddy swore today!”. (I think he’d said ‘bloody’ – serious stuff, eh?)
Karma came back and bit me on the a**e many years later when I momentarily forgot The Tall Child was in the car when, in complete exasperation at the antics of a lorry driver, I less-than-silently mouthed “Oh, for f**k’s sake!”. It didn’t take long before I was ratted-out in turn when we returned home: “Mum! Dad said the F word!”.
And that is why I laughed out loud when I read the BTL comments that followed the online Graun’s review of Harlequins’ poor showing in rugby’s Aviva Premiership this year. It’s the last line that made me chuckle …
John Barclay, Scotland’s rugby captain, plays his club rugby professionally in Wales. Consequently he was at his home in south Wales when a minor earthquake hit it last week. His comment made me laugh:
“It was scary, I didn’t know what was going on. My five-year-old ran through and said ‘it wasn’t me dad’.”
Apparently it was not clear which fault had caused the less-than-earth-shattering ‘quake, possibly because no-one could pronounce it. Most reports from outside Wales said the epicentre was near Swansea, when really it struck directly below Cwmllynfell 👀
It’s been a while since a quote made me laugh out loud, but last week’s report of a sushi-loving Californian’s encounter with a tapeworm supplied a couple.
According to the Graun, a resident of Fresno managed to ‘pass’ a tapeworm around five feet six inches in length. Afterwards, he wrapped it around a loo roll and took it to his doctor and asked to be treated for ‘worms’.
The patient had initially been concerned that an extrusion from his derriere was a part of his intestines prolapsing. So why he thought it a good idea to give it a tug is anyone’s guess, but tug it he did and the rest of the tapeworm followed.
The article outlined the life cycle of the tapeworm in the region, noting that bears feeding off salmon can be an alternate host that re-transmit the parasite’s eggs when defecating in rivers. Larvae then hatch and infect small crustaceans that are eaten by salmon that are then caught and processed into sushi which is eaten by wannabe human hosts.
It was the doctor’s comment that made me laugh:
“He told me he was freaked out, but I guess when you think you’re dying because your entrails are shooting out your bottom and you find out it’s not you, but something else, that’s probably a good thing.”
As did a number of the BTL comments, notably this one:
“‘A typical life cycle might include a bear that feeds on salmon, then defecates back into the river’. That is what happens when bears don’t stick to the rules: they are meant to shit in the woods, not in the river“.
Postscript: One of the most interesting courses of my undergraduate years was on parasitology, which is why the stated size of the tapeworm didn’t surprise me. They can be much longer than the one above.
The human broad fish tapeworm (Diphyllobothriun latum) can grow up to 10 metres in length comprising a head and thousands of segments (proglottids). Proglottids regularly detach from the tail end and are ‘passed’ by the host before hatching into larvae.
As one of the symptoms of a tapeworm infection can be weight loss, it is no surprise that some people have been tempted to infect themselves for that very purpose (ingesting cysts from the beef tapeworm).
Indeed, tapeworms-as-diet-aid have been marketed for that very reason since the early 20th century – the soprano Maria Callas is reputed to have lost weight dramatically due to the tapeworm diet although many think it unlikely.
But be very careful, people! If the wrong species is ingested, larvae can migrate through the body before encysting which can have all sorts of serious effects (cysticercosis) including death. So don’t eat raw pork!
Years ago on our pre-having-a-family mega-blowout holiday to the Antipodes, we crossed the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand. On the approach to landing in Christchurch the (Aussie) pilot reminded us of the time difference between the two countries and also added:
“Turn your watches back two hours … and your calendars 30 years!”
At the time he was right. All the cars we saw were from the 1960s and apart from the adreneline junkies’ Nirvana at Queenstown, the country had a definite retro feel to it. (I’m told that’s no longer true!)
I was reminded of that quote yesterday when I came across comedian/writer/director David Schneider’s autumnal advice on turning our clocks back to daylight saving time – funny, but a little too close to home:
Seems about right!
Postscript: The easy way to remember when the clocks go forward and when they go back is via the mnemonic “spring forward, fall back”, just as Firstborn does when she tries to get up in the morning!
I keep meaning to make my posts apolitical, but politicians keep feeding the fire. In this instance only indirectly as it is not from a politician, but a former head of the UK civil service, Bob Kerslake, reflecting yesterday on the current state of the Conservative Party in government.
Here’s the quote:
“The Cabinet is behaving like Reservoir Dogs with extra ketchup!”