Names Of The Week (3)

Whilst I’m looking forward to AI cars, anything that can drive me home after a few beers down the local is welcome in my book, I’m not so sure about all-electric cars. An improvement in the range of these vehicles and a more extensive network of recharging stations might persuade this old Luddite of their merits but until then I’m sticking with my old gas guzzler.

Still, there seems to be a demand for these things and German car manufacturers, Audi, are one of the latest to announce an exciting range of all-singing, all-dancing electric cars. It’s called the E-tron, a name cooked up in the pressure cooker world of some marketing department.

But there is one teensy little problem. The marketeers’ chosen brand name is almost identical to the French word Étron. What is a hyphen between amis?

And what does Étron mean?

Why, excrement or turd, of course.

My sentiments entirely about the car but I expect it will have to be rebranded to satisfy the sensibilities of the French buying public.

Mon dieu, back to the drawing board.

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Sporting Event Of The Week (19)

It is one thing to take the piss out of a priest, it is another for a priest to take to the piste.

News reached me this week that I had missed the 21st Annual Pope John Paul II Skiing Cup, held in Wisla in southern Poland at the end of January.

The former Pope was an ardent skier, presumably in his younger days, and was once heard to mutter, “it’s unbecoming for a cardinal to ski badly.” A cardinal sin, you might say.

Anyway, to commemorate the Pope’s passion, a group of priests organised a skiing competition to show their flock how to relax and enter into honest competition. These days lay people and even people from other denominations can enter and the cassock, which was once de rigueur, is now optional.

The oldest participant was Father Wladyslaw Nowobilski, a mere 76 years young.

A good time was had by all and rumours that the church is going downhill fast are ill-founded, I’m told.

Polar Vortex Of The Week

I’ve not been there. I’m saving it up until I have fallen off this mortal coil, provided that it is on a temporary visa, you understand. I’m talking about hell.

But it seems that there is an earthly incarnation about 95 km west of Detroit in Michigan. Those pioneers must have had a sense of humour when they came to naming the place. The name was officially adopted in 1841. One theory is that it owes its origin to the German word for bright or shiny.

Anyway, the recent Polar Vortex saw the mercury in Hell drop to -26C, allowing the denizens of the place to post on social media that, verily, hell had frozen over.

I suppose it was worth the wait to crack that joke.

The cold snap induced an unusual bout of lethargy on to the enforcers of law and order. The Police Department in Warrensburg in Missouri posted a plea on social media to criminals to keep their “criminalling (sic) to a minimum”, on the grounds that it was too cold to be out and about doing police work.

I wonder if it worked.

Toilet Of The Week (20)

Here’s another one of those intriguing questions that strike me from time to time; where do London bus drivers go when they are caught short en route to their destination?

For the convenience of their drivers, Transport for London (TdL) are rolling out a plan to install 42 stainless steel cabins complete with all facilities, strategically positioned around the capital, at a cost of around £6 million. Standing 11 feet tall and with porthole windows, they will be a new addition to the capital’s street furniture.

But not everyone is relieved. TfL have been able to bypass normal planning laws, meaning they can deposit them willy-nilly. Some residents, catching whiff of one coming to their area, are fighting a rear-guard battle to stop it happening. The first to be installed, in Biggin Hill, dubbed Turdis, caused such a stink that it was eventually removed.

But you can’t let Nimbyism stand in the way of progress.

We shall have to see whether these new pieces of street furniture become as loved and cherished as the green taxi drivers’ huts. I doubt it somehow.

Pointless Story Of The Week

After all the adverse publicity her hubby has generated over the last couple of weeks, it is good to see that the Queen can still get down with her people.

It is that time of year when she graces a meeting of her local Women’s Institute at West Newton village hall near Sandringham in Norfolk with her presence. And what better way to mark the occasion than a game of Pointless. The question master wasn’t any old person but the host of the TV show, Alexander Armstrong.

In a best of five game the Queen’s team prevailed over a team led by the vice-president of Sandringham WI, Yvonne Browne, by three games to one. Now there’s a surprise.

According to Armstrong, the Queen is a whizz at the game. After all, she has had 92 years’ experience of a pointless existence.

My sources are keeping mum as to whether Philip drove her home.

Spat Of The Week

Thank goodness we have Prince Philip and Brexit to worry about or else we would be turning our minds to more serious matters.

Take the Norwegians and Canadians, for example. They are involved in an unseemly argument over statues of moose.

For some years the cityscape of Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan has been dominated by a 32-feet tall statue of Mac the Moose, steel-framed and covered with metal mesh and cement. But in 2015 the Norwegians erected Storelgen, a shiny metallic beast, on the highway linking Trondheim with Oslo, apparently in an attempt to reduce road accidents. It stands 30cm taller than its Canadian equivalent.

The city authorities in Moose Jaw have only now woken up to the fact that their claim to have the biggest statue of a moose has been usurped. They are not amused and are scratching their collective heads to what to do now. The most popular suggestion is to give the Canadian moose a bigger set of antlers and there is even a crowd-funding campaign underway to raise the money to do it. The Norwegians, meanwhile, are standing firm.

There is, it seems to me, a perfectly simple way out of the impasse. The creatures are known as elks in Europe and Asia. So, the Norwegians can have the largest elk statue and the Canadians the largest moose.

Now on to Brexit!

Cure Of The Week

I have a long-standing interest in quack medicine and a couple of recent examples caught my eye.

The pain from a bad back can be debilitating and sufferers are often desperate to get their hands on anything that will relieve their pain. But here’s one remedy not to try – injecting yourself with semen.

The Irish Medical Journal, a must-read in any household, reported, in an article wittily called Semenly Harmless Back Pain: An unusual presentation of a Subcutaneous Abscess, that a 33 year-old man had injected himself with his own semen to cure his chronic back pain.

It didn’t seem to help and on a visit to the quack to get a more conventional treatment, the doctor noticed that the man’s arm was red and swollen. Further investigation showed that the man had a skin infection and that an abscess had formed under his skin.

He was put on an intravenous antimicrobial drip which seemed to have helped relieve his back pain but the patient discharged himself before the medics had the opportunity to drain his arm. Perhaps he was attached to it.

In other parts of the world, they swear by camel’s urine, claiming scriptural provenance for its healing qualities from a passage in the Hadith, a collection of sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad. Bottles of the stuff fly off the shelves in Saudi Arabia and if you get your hands on one, be sure to mix it with milk is supposed to release its healing properties.

But, you need to be sure that what you are drinking is the real deal.

Reports have reached me that Saudi health inspectors raided a shop in the port city of Al Qufudhah after receiving reports that the crafty shopkeeper was selling his own urine instead of going to the trouble of getting a camel, a notoriously bad-tempered creature at the best of times, to point Percy at a bucket. Seventy bottles were taken away for analysis.