Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The affinity of great minds

"I've an idea; just struck me, and you're as welcome to it as if it were your own. P'r'aps that rascal Atkinson has ordered those things, and got them when they were sent home. Rather smart of me to think of that, eh?"

"Very smart," I answered, with great emphasis, while his valet grinned behind a coat. "The affinity of great minds is shown in the fact that the same idea struck me."

The McGovan Casebook: The Wrong Umbrella
William Crawford Honeyman, writing as James McGovan


The McGovan books, which first appeared in the 1870s, were supposed at the time to be the memoirs of a real-life Edinburgh detective. In the afterword to my edition of the casebook, Mary Anne Allburger argues the case for Honeyman as an influence on the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, himself a student in Edinburgh at the time:

The final confirmation may be deduced from Holmes's decision to retire to the South Downs and to keep bees, for thus the violin-playing sleuth becomes a "honey-man".


The affinity of great minds was no less in evidence over the Christmas period. My delight at finding as suitable a present for my brother as the anime DVD Sherlock Hound was rather tempered by the fact that he had bought the exact same present for me.


It was the end of the evening on Christmas Day and the party was petering out. All the alcohol was gone and both Peters in attendance had in fact retired to the front room to follow the Ashes on the radio. It was unquestionably time to hit the road.

"Let's make like a condom," I announced.

"And split?" asked Katelyn.

"You're very close," I said. "The correct answer is: and piss off."

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


The Yin of six, the Yang of nine

The first race of this year was an absolute toughie: a very hilly 10k that knocked hell out of my legs, not to mention my brother.

It wasn't all bad though: at least I was given an auspicious race number at registration.

ME: McKeowns, Daniel and Joseph.

SHE: Right, Daniel, number 69; Joseph, number 70.

ME: Back of the net!

Why so delighted with 69? Why, gentle reader, because of its rotational symmetry, of course. In celebration of this happy fact, I proudly wore my race number upside down.


This confused the registration lady somewhat.

SHE: Er, I think your number's on upside down.

ME: It's worse than you think - I've also got my socks on the wrong feet.

When the results were posted on the noticeboard, I found the bemused organisers had crossed out the number next to my finishing position three times before finally mastering the fact that an upside-down 69 isn't 96.

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Saturday, January 01, 2011



It's difficult to make a New Year into a fresh start with the ghost of the previous year's revelry still clanging against the inside of one's temples. Fortunately, I was armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of hangover cures and the last egg in the house.

A Prairie Oyster is a drink consisting of a raw egg, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. The egg is broken into a glass so as not to break the yolk, which causes the drink to bear a similarity to the texture of an actual oyster. The drink is typically served the morning after a night of hard drinking as a hangover cure.
from Wikipedia

The scientific explanation is that the egg yolk is a source of niacin, which is apparently just what you're after when you have a tumultuous hangover.

A more prosaic view of it is that your condition probably isn't fatal if you can hold a raw egg down.


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