The countries as we know them today were created by a convention of the UN in 1950. Since then they have been a useful way for people to form a national identity, conduct international diplomacy and know who to have a war against.
A new facility for making countries was constructed in Antarctica in 1996, and since then new countries have been rolling out of the factory doors at the rate of five per year.
Here are some facts you may not have known about countries:
Holland is named after diminutive boogie fiend Jools Holland in gratitude for his contribution during the Holland-Wales war. It is sometimes called 'the Neverlands' because Peter Pan creator Barry Humphies was Dutch. Holland is entirely below sea level, and can only be reached via an escalator from Luxembourg.
There are two Congos, Democratic Republic of Congo and Congoland, which means that there is always a spare if something goes wrong. By a strange quirk of fate, all Congolese are allergic to Um Bongo.
China is entirely clockwork. It is the only country whose national anthem is one continuous note that never finishes.
Angola expands and contracts 4 times daily according to the relative position of the moon, the tides and former UK Prime Minister Baroness Darth Thatcher.
Thailand was constructed from an Airfix kit in 1984. Since then it has been redecorated twice, including one disastrous experiment with shocking lilac.
Brazil has a 3-dimensional flag, whose shape is a cross between a football and Bossa Nova pioneer Joao Gilberto (1931-2031).
The countries as we know them today were created by a convention of the UN in 1950. Since then they have been a useful way for people to form a national identity, conduct international diplomacy and know who to have a war against.
'Bees, bees, good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you fart', as the song goes.
Bees are indeed high in fibre, but whether they cause flatulence is still a matter of debate.
But what are they bee?
Bees are tiny electronic insects that are powered by honey. They also make flowers. Bees hum because they are notoriously stubborn and are determined not to hear what other bees are saying to them. As a consequence, over time, bees have learned to communicate with one another through dance. However, they are not the only insects with this talent. Insects of the mantid family are excellent breakdancers, while wasps favour swing and jive.
Bees often live in man-made structures, but if left to their own devices with a small JCB, two tonnes of bricks and the right roofing materials, a swarm can knock together a decent 3/4 bedroom hive with off-street parking in less than a week.
Lord of the Denim Dance
George Michaels was born Giorgy Mikailastrakan in Armenia in 1850. His parents had been killed in a horrific but amusing factory accident before he was born, and he spent the early years of his life as an urchin, wandering about the sea floor feeding on molluscs and protecting himself with poisonous spines, both of which habits he still hasn't shaken today.
After enlisting as a soldier in the Crimenian War at the age of 6, he encountered larger-than-life rapper Florence Nightingale, more popularly known as 'Flo No', who was working as a be-atch in the British Army. The kind-hearted, large-butted rapster took Giorgy under her ample wing. When the war ended nil-nil, it was Flo No who brought Giorgy back to England hidden inside a lantern.
Back in the UK of GB, young Georgiou flourished. Nightingale had an enormous influence on his education, teaching him to sing and dance with panache (short for 'papier mache'), and soon he was making pop records of his own.
He took to the Victorian pop-world like a duck to soup. His first hit single, 'Wouldn't it be nice (kerchung kerchung) if I could touch your botty?' went straight to number 1. He was soon giving music hall stars like Charles Seriously and Albertine 'Is this the Post Office?' Fletcher a run for their money. Hit after hit followed as if from a pop boxer, and singles like 'Mumma's dancy boy' and 'L'amore c'est ma dommage' sold millions. Of records.
After 85 years at the top spot, Michaels Georges retired. Although he doesn't sing anymore, he still produces other acts such as Spanky Do and Team-Club-1. He lives today at the top of a tree in Sussex, and only comes down at Christmas to bark at the neighbours.
A grandparent is a human that has produced one thousand offspring, (hence the origin of the word). On achieving this feat, the new grandparent shouts 'full house!', and is then officially designated with the title and given some comfortable shoes by Her Majesty the Queen.
Grandparents can be found in armchairs, at bus stops and in deckchairs in UK seaside resorts. Indeed, they are so common these days that they can easily be acquired; you may even have one yourself.
Your grandparent should be refuelled regularly with Werther's Originals and tea (some high-performance models also take sherry).
It can be useful to cover your grandparent with a tartan blanket. This will calm him or her down, and discourage attempts to escape.
A cocktail is made by mixing liquors together, often with fruit juice and ice, to make something more potent but easier to drink. The cocktail is normally presented in an attractive glass, and can be topped off with a cherry, an olive or garlic & herb croutons. It may then be accessorised with a mini umbrella or a tiny rainproof poncho.
Making 'cocktails' can be a good way of clearing those almost-finished bottles of unusual spirits from the back of the drinks cabinet, which is an ideal way to wind down towards the end of a party.
Popular cocktails include the Spooky Martini, Pink Shame, the Lime Woohahaha!, and Troll Sick.
Rome was founded in Rome in 753BC by the Romulans out of Star Wars. The city was built in a day, and once completed it was the largest Lego city in the entire ancient world. With a society founded on republicanism, citizenship and the violent conquest of its neighbours, Rome thrived, and over the centuries Rome built up a land empire of several acres.
Eventually the Roman empire grew so large as to be administratively unwieldy, and began to collapse under its own weight like a badly-made civilisation pie.
The decline was exacerbated by several barbarian holiday groups, including the famous 'Tour of '09' by Alaric the Goth and his band of lank-haired Camdenites, who rampaged through Italy drunkenly chanting and throwing plastic chairs.
Today little remains of the empire except some ruins and a few packets of souvenir 'Gladiator' biscuits.
Mountains are like big old grumpy hills, except with snow instead of white hair. Some are built over millions of years by immense geological forces, while others are built in a very short time like the EU's Sugar Mountain, the Sherbert Fountain Mountain, and the Mountain of Naughty Children.
Many mountains have names, like Mount Cottonsocks, Mount Peter Tatchell, Mount Cragalot and Plumpy. In some parts of the world mountains have numbers, for example K-9 and R2D2.
The highest mountain in the UK is Ben Hur.
Dancing is a form of bodily shaking accompanied by spasms of the limbs that are sometimes in time with music, though often entirely random. Dancing is generally used to express joy and convivial feeling, or to scare off potential romantic partners. In other respects dancing is like having a fit, except that it goes on for longer and is more embarassing for younger relatives.
Traditional dances are similar but tend to be slower, and involve more spinning, bowing and giggling behind fans.
Popular dances today include the Dirty Batman, the Menage-a-trois, the Fraggle Rock and the Lurgy.
Volcanoes are formed when the Earth's tectonic plates swell up and burst, and molten lava comes steaming through like hot custard. Like a well-made custard, molten lava smothers and burns everything in its path, destroying trees, houses, cars and hopefully Robert Kilroy Silk.
One famous volcanic eruption was in AD79 when the rebel slave leader Circduglus pulled the plug from the top of Mount Vesuvius, releasing the lava and destroying the towns of Pompous, Humungous and Myopia.
These days, most volcanoes are extinct, as the species has been out-competed by mountains, which are far more adaptable and amenable and are therefore more widespread.
Some famous volcanoes include Mr Hottie, Mt. Burnalot, The Devil's Bidet, and Le Dejeuner Chaud de St Hubert.
A course eaten after dinner and before cheese, or after cheese but before cigars, or after cigars but before skinny-dipping.
Poodles (pudding noodles) can be eaten at any time of day. Be careful not to confuse with puddles.
Also cf. colloquial phrase 'you're a pudding', used as a threat to a mischievous child who makes a mess of himself. This phrase dates from a time when cannibalism was common in British society. The practice died out with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when Quorn was invented. This is why it tastes like chicken.
"One day I'll be bigger than the VW Beetle"
Prophet, magician and bon viveur.
Jesus was born Jeshua Evan Williams in Bethlehem, Carmarthenshire, in the year 0000. Although West Wales was suffering from industrial decline and high unemployment at the time, he was fortunate to have a stable background. Both his parents were employed, his father working as a ghost for the local council and his mother as a carpenter.
Born with a full head of hair, a luxuriant beard and a halo, it was clear from the outset that he was a special child. At school, his academic performance was average, but in reports by his teachers we find indicators of his later career, such as the occasion when he resurrected a box of frogs intended for dissection in O Level Biology, or when he dissappeared for 40 days during a cross-country run.
As Jesus reached adolescence he showed no sign of entering either his father's or his mother's trades, instead choosing to sit on mountaintops wearing a beard of bees and meditating. It was only as he entered his twenties and became politically aware that he started to make an impact, first locally in Llandeilo and the Tywi Valley and then more widely as his fame spread across Wales and most other places in the world.
He started by casting out W.I. tea dances and farmers markets from church halls, then walked across the Severn Estuary and raised Elvis from the dead. Soon he was preaching to enormous crowds at the Millenium Stadium and Wembley, having fed them all with five portions fish and chips.
But as his fame grew, Jesus made enemies. The private health industry were worried by his healing powers, shoemakers lost trade as his followers took to the streets in sandals, and TV shopping channels were threatened by his renunciation of material possesions like cheap jewellery and remote-control hoovers. It was when his water-into-wine demonstration caused a collapse of the European wine market that the authorities decided to act.
He was arrested and subjected to a televised trial presented by Ant and Dec, followed by a public telephone vote to decide his fate. As the verdict was awaited, one of his followers smuggled a stolen key into his cell, hidden in the pages of a large book which wasn't the Bible because it wasn't written yet, and Jesus was able to unlock his door and escape. To this day his whereabouts is unknown, although apparent likenesses of him seen in potato crisps, oil stains, over-exposed holiday snaps and one of the Beatles suggest that he is still somehow working his magic.
Isn't hair amazing? It keeps one's head warm, it can be styled to suit the wearer's personality, and can be tousled affectionately (but only if it is on the head of a small boy. Tousling the hair of a stranger, your boss or a visiting Head of State can have unpleasant consequences).
But have you ever noticed that hair comes in a limited range of colours? Silvery white, blond, red, brown, and black...why is that?
It's because hair is made of wood, and those are the colours that wood comes in. Little spiders make hair by chewing up wood and secreting a keratin-based substance from their bottoms. While you sleep at night, the spiders come out from their hiding places and spin new 'webs' of hair on your head. It is worth noting that as men age, their smell changes, causing disorientation in the little hair-spinning spiders. As a consequence they spin less hair on a man's head and more in his ears, in his nostrils, on his eyebrows; indeed, often any part of the body except the head.
Some famous hairstyles include the 'Jesus', the afro and the 'cat that climbed in the washing machine and you didn't notice until you heard miaowing several minutes after the cycle started'.
(c. 19th Century) a type of glue. (modern) A financial instrument allowing investment in popular Jameses, such as James Mason, Jesse James and James I of England and VI of Scotland.
Bonds in James Dean and the homonymous Mancunian indie band have been particularly highly valued recently.
The first arachnid king of England. He had 6-legged wives, which he ate after they failed to produce male spiderlings to inherit the throne.
Henry started the schism between the English State and the Roman Church, after the church wouldn't let him leave his car in their carpark while he popped into the supermarket.
Henry was remarkably fat, and would be frequently seen swimming in the seas off the British coast, using his beard to filter krill from the water into his mouth. According to Cardinal Wolsey he could consume up to 4 tonnes of the tiny marine organisms in one day.
Pixies are diminutive mythical creatures that live in woods, meadows and sheds. They have blurry outlines, and it is from this that we get the word pixelated.
Much like gnomes in the 1950s and goblins in the late 1960s, pixies had an important cultural role during the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly in popular music. Their silly hats, mischievous behaviour and raw angst-ridden music inspired grunge bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden, as well as millions of grumpy teenagers around the world who took to wearing colourful pointy hats to show how angry they were.
Although originally designed for warming the legs of horses and ponies, trousers have been worn by men and women for at least a century. They are today one of the most popular tubular fabric leg storage devices available.
Trousers are grown in enormous 'kek farms' in the Mid-West of the United States of Americay. Harvested twice a year, they are then refrigerated before being shipped around the world and delivered to clothes shops and the bottoms of wardrobes.
Most people now have at least one trouser, and many find a pair more convenient.
Computers were invented by Prince Albert Einstein as part of his Great Festival of Exhibitionism in 1851. Since that time computers have become an integral part of life, like buses, children and toast. Today computers are all around us: in the workplace, in the car, in the home, indeed in everything from humble kitchen appliances to mighty intergalactic battle cruisers wreaking death and destruction at the flick of a switch or the typing of an incorrect password.
In fact, although you may not have guessed it, I am a computer.
So how do I work?
Computers understand the world by breaking everything down into tiny units of data called bits and bobs. A bob is worth 2 bits and a three bob note is bent. 3 bent bobs is a kilobob, 5 kilobobs is a megadon, 10 of those a pterodon, and 1000 pterodons is a gigapig, or gig. 1000 gigapigs makes a hig, which is short for higgledy piggledy giggly piggle. And so forth.
At the time of writing, the most powerful computers can cope with up to 4 higs of data (or one squegg). But technology moves quickly, and the number of times you have to turn a computer off and on again to get it to work doubles every year.
As for the future, who knows? Perhaps computers will take over the world. Or perhaps they will be content with their lot in life. Or will they? Perhaps they won't. Or perhaps they will! Or they won't. Who knows? Perhaps you do? Or perhaps you don't. Do you?
Is it an animal, or is it a fish? Well, the word amphibian comes from 'amphi' meaning half, and 'bi' meaning both, because an amphibian is both an animal and a fish, and neither, and half not either of them.
It is widely known that frogs, toads and salamanders are amphibians, but did you know that seagulls, mice and the tea plant Camelia Sinensis are also amphibious? No, I didn't think so.
In fact, many high-earning businessmen are now becoming amphibious, as amphibians pay tax at a lower rate than mammals due to their being cold blooded.
All insects have 6 legs but only one knee, which links the insect's head to its thorax, in place of a neck. Some biologists call this a kneeck, especially in Scotland.
Insects can see into the future using tiny magic telescopes. They can also eat more pot noodle than you can shake a stick at.
If you want to see some insects in action, good examples look out for are the fly, the swim, the Beatle, the earwig and the eyehat.
The four points of the compass are Nobbins, Eck!, Sompft and Wohag.
You can remember the points of the compass by never eating shredded wheat, as constipation is a proven aid to memory. If you must have your roughage from elsewhere, you could try eating hay, or perhaps bristles.
One uses a compass by drawing around it to create a circle, or by drawing around a pair of compasses to create two circles (Fig. 1).
As every schoolgirl knows, a circle always points north. This allows you to orientate yourself easily, provided that you want to go north.
Other methods to discover north include eating the moss from one side of a tree, or looking at a map, or by travelling to the south pole and then going north.
Gods are magical people who live in the sky, although some live underground, while others like to spend time in churches and other religious buildings. Most gods are immortal, which means they set on fire easily. This is why many churches have holy water in strategic places.
The majority of gods are humanoid in appearance. Some have extra body parts - 8 arms, or 2 heads, or 40 beards - while some are zoomorphic (a form of stop-motion animation using plasticine).
All gods have jobs. Some are carpenters, others create weather or ensure good harvests, while some work in admin or as teaching assistants.
Here are some popular gods, with a brief description of what they do:
Hareth - god of digital piracy
Hareth wears a hat of flames, but he takes it off whenever he goes into a restaurant.
Sham - god of eggy bread
Sham is green and speaks all the languages of the Indian subcontinent except Malayalam.
Lorica - god of creative accounting and petfood
Lorica sometimes comes to earth disguised as a South London bus driver called Michael.
Elro - god of setting fire to bins
Elro is rather dapper, but moves at light speed so you are unlikely to catch a glimpse of him.
Ip - god of glossy cookbooks
Ip is reborn each year during the Eurovision song contest. Nul points, Ip!
Limpy - god of hunting gazelle with laser beams
Limpy has one million legs and no arms, so spends a lot of money on shoes, but on the flipside never has to worry about gloves.
Urk - god of shaving foam
Urk exists purely as a sound, and sounds a bit like a motorbike breaking down, and a bit like a baby sneezing.
Plappaplip - god of shouting at trees and shrubs
Plappaplip likes wining, dining and mining.
Zem - god of embarrassing behaviour at weddings
Zem is fifteen minutes behind GMT so is difficult to have a conversation with. He has previously been the god of 00 gauge model trains, nightmares and Leichtenstein.
Ramathon - god of zooming and miaowing
Ramathon has wings of gossamer and eyes of ruby. He lives in a garage near the sea-side in Essex.
From Anc. Gr. Dino-sauros meaning I don't know what those bones are from. Perhaps a very big ox?
There was a time, not so long ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, although they didn't pass laws, impose taxes or engage in foreign diplomacy; they mostly roared and ate one another.
It was the arrival of Homo Sapiens (the thinking man's man) that spelt the end for these giant creatures. First as a fleet-footed hunter gatherer, humankind decimated wild dinosaur populations, and then as a farmer he domesticated the majestic thunder lizards, and dinosaurs quickly became little more than beasts of burden, reduced to pulling ploughs and lugging around rolls of carpet purchased in the half price sale down at the bazaar.
With the invention of the steam engine, dinosaurs had outlived their usefulness, and, cast out of society, dinosaur numbers dwindled rapidly, with remaining populations succumbing to poverty and alcoholism.
Recently, things have been looking up, however, or rather, people have been looking up, at things, those things being dinosaurs. For these mighty beasts are now being re-introduced into some of the wilder parts of the UK like the New Forest, the Scottish Highlands and Croydon.
Dictators are a subset of the marsupial family. Along with the characteristic pouch in which young are reared, common dictatorial features include ruthless ambition, nepotism, a willingness to use secret police and paranoia to oppress freedom of thought, and the passing of nutty edicts (for example the 1938 laws passed by Mussolini decreeing that all nuns must wear fairy wings, children must talk Italian with a Geordie accent, and gurning must be accepted as legal tender).
Some of the more popular dictators include Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Dionysius I of Syracuse, and Top Cat.
Today, chocolate is as popular as ever, whether it comes in a foil-wrapped bar, in a rich drink from a continental cafe, or spread over the writhing naked body of your new lover. But there was a time when chocolate was relatively unknown in Europe.
All changed in the 16th Century, when Francis Drake, browsing the newspaper over his morning rice crispies, saw an article about the conquest of South America by spaniels. While ravaging the continent, the hungry conquistadogs had come across a city made entirely of chocolate, which they ate. Intrigued, Drake managed to source some chocolate from a business associate known only as Turkish John. The great adventurer gave it a try and was delighted. Where Francis Drake led, fashionable society followed, and the more classy taverns of London were soon thronged with people drinking chocolate, twirling their moustaches and pretending to be pirates.
Chocolate is created by grinding up tiny beings called chocs. These live wild in the jungles of South America and Africa, and are caught in nets each night by hunters. The ground chocs are turned into a goo which is poured into moulds to make ingots called choccablocks. These are then sent to a mountaintop factory in Switzerland, where Neil Kinnock uses secret incantations to turn them into chocolate bars, Easter eggs an' ting.
Chocolate is a precious commodity, and several national currencies are guaranteed upon a chocolate standard, though many nations abandoned this after 'Brown Monday', when the price of Rolos collapsed.
Apes are humankind's closest relatives in the animal kingdom. However, they don't visit us very often and the most we ever get from them is the odd finger-painted Christmas card so sometimes I wonder why I bother.
There are different species of apes, but the most popular are the orang-utan, which is Malay for 'grumpy old man in the forest', and the chimp, which makes cocopops.
Other family favourites include the gorilla, the cheeky monkey and King Kong. The Monkees are not apes; they are in fact a religious order.
Many ape species are endangered and populations are reaching critically low levels, largely due to hunting and encroachment on habitat by humans, and also as a result of repeated gruelling experiments involving large numbers of chimps and typewriters.
To combat the decline, the Ape Marketing Council created the Planet of the Apes, located about halfway between Earth and Mars, but it has not proven popular with visitors so far, losing out to more exciting attractions like Lego World and Moon of Muesli.
Apes are sometimes kept captive in apiaries by bees in armour.
Invented in 1979 by a confectioner who thought his children were spoilt.
Kinder eggs are famous for a TV advertisement in which two children ask for a toy, some chocolate and a disappointment, and their mother buys them Kinder Eggs, thereby only meeting one of those demands.
I live in a house. You probably live in a house. I know they live in houses. So what is/are it/they be?
A house is any free-standing structure in which people live. The plural form of the word is hice. There are 15 officially recognised sizes of house, ranging from hovel to palace, as well as many different flavours, including mock tudor, pretend Gothic, gingerbread and haunted. A house can also be made of Commons, of love, of cards or of acid.
During the Cold War (1945 - c.1990° celsius) many people elected to live in a Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) house, working on the principle that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw nuclear warheads at other people's glass houses.
In modern Britain people are increasingly worried about rising house prices. Higher prices have led to a growing incidence of house theft, and consequently many people have started storing their houses in lockers and putting name tags on them.
Poet, politician and plumber extraordinaire
Son of a gay bank manager and a panda, Mao Zedong was created in 1918 to commemorate the death of WWI poet Wilfred Owen.
A bizarre child, he was shunned by his schoolmates due to his unfeasibly small size, having reached only 4 inches in height by the age of 12. Nonetheless, he was clearly a bright child, but the regimented teaching style in 1930s Hunan Province schools did not suit his artistic temperament and frankly wacky behaviour.
In his mid-teenage years he dropped out of school, becoming a drug-addled petty criminal, and eventually was arrested and jailed for running his own robot hedgehog fights in the back rooms of bars and brothels. He escaped from prison after copying keys by impressing them in the icing on fairy cakes that he baked to impress the governor, and then using these icing moulds to make new keys out of teaspoons from the prison canteen.
While in prison Mao had got into the habit of never changing out of his pyjamas, and perhaps due to the restrictions on his freedom during the day, he frequently sleepwalked at night. It was during one prolonged bout of somnambulance after his release that he became Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party.
Subsequently, the entire period of his leadership was spent in a sleepwalk. No-one noticed, and he managed international diplomacy, the writing of his personal manifesto and the release of the hit single It's my Chinese People's Party and I'll rid the country of anti-proletarian imperialists in a bloody purge if I want to while apparently unconscious.
When he woke up in 1981 he was quite surprised to find he had been leader of the most heavily populated country in the world, which he had transformed beyond recognition. On being told of the mass killing and famines of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, he didn't believe his informants, claiming that no-one could possibly be so dogmatically stupid, and asserted that they should have put their efforts into neutralising hippy popstar Donovan instead.
In the 1980s he was for a brief time the third member of entertainers the Chuckle Brothers, but retired after securing his fortune by inventing the spoon as an egalitarian alternative to the bourgoise knife and fork. He died suddenly in 1986, while peacefully sleepwalking across the newly opened M25 motorway.
'How much is that topper in the window?'
It's four shillings and six, sir. Oh dear. I suggest you had better seek an outfitters more suitable to your means.
A hat is, quite simply, a head covering device. Though it is not a crown, a cap or a helmet. Or a wig, or a veil. But most other head covering devices are hats.
Hats come in many shapes, sizes and dimensions (if you count the 12-dimensional hats postulated by today's physicists). They range from the more familiar styles such as the top hat, the fedora, and the bowler, to the more interesting tricorn and the Carmen Miranda, all the way through to the outlandish New Guinean Poop Deck and the Bavarian Musical Wurst-Horn.
Although banned for a short time during the Victorian era - condemned as base and explicitly sensual - hats have always been a popular way of expressing social status, political affiliation and mood. In republican Rome the democratic popularis politicians would often wear a trilby to indicate their political leanings. The Vikings wore helmets that bore horns, which they would sound in battle by pressing the knob on the top of the helmet (and some see in this the forerunner of the parping cacophony of the modern traffic jam). Shakespeare famously wore a fez, as he thought it made him look Bohemian.
In fact, other than the Victorian hiatus, the only other period of hat shortage was during World War Two, when the government ordered hat production to cease so that the skills of milliners could be concentrated on designing bombs that would fall at a jaunty angle.
The hat remains popular to this day, although some experts fear that the growth of online hats may finally sound the death knell for this much loved headgear.
"Soaked to the skin and exhausted, he hauled himself up and looked out of the life raft at the dark mountainous swell, spray lashing his face, storm wind howling angrily all around, and remembered that he had forgotten to call his mother again."
The sea, vast, majestic and untamed, has had an unshakeable grip on the human imagination since it was invented in the 19th Century so that trade ships could be sailed between Europe and the Americas, rather than pushing them on log rollers. Since that time it has also been a much simpler task working out which countries are islands.
There are by consensus seven seas, covering four thirds of the Earth's surface, and they contain an enormously rich diversity of plant and animal species, including fish, numerous invertebrates and Wales. Many marine organisms parallel those we find on God's dry land, such as seahorses, sea cows, sea cucumbers, and sealions, and many of these are raised in seafarms by seafarmers who drive around on seatractors wearing sea flat caps and complain about the city types from Atlantis. Except for the sealions, which are of course kept in a zoo.
The sea is salty because it is the Earth's sweat. As climate change warms the globe, the Earth will sweat more, meaning that the seas increase in volume, and possibly odour, threatening many low-lying areas such as the lowlands of Holland, Lower Saxony and Lowestoft with a briny doom (or 'broom').
The sea is now 37 and lives in Sussex with its partner, Stephen, and Muffles the cat.
'Animal' describes any living organism that is neither a plant nor a mineral; in fact, minerals are dead, so effectively an animal is anything that isn't a plant. Animals are also known as creatures, beasties and 'meat trolleys'.
There are characteristics common to all animals: they breathe, they eat, they reproduce, they wear sunglasses, and they can be trained to do circus tricks.
In addition, all animals have superpowers.
Surprisingly, animals have differing opinions about foreign policy.
Some popular animals you may have heard of:
Dogs are one of the earliest known domesticated animals, and today many are trained to hoover, make dinner and even work the dishwasher. Many dogs are talented percussionists, and canine drummers have a particularly strong presence in 20th Century classical music and jazz.
Dogs are descended from wolves, and indeed many still turn into humans every full moon.
Sheep, like dogs, have been part of the menagerie (a type of dessert) of domesticated animals for millenia.
Sheep have 4 legs, sweet tasting wool and empty, soulless eyes. They live in burrows underground and only emerge to graze, breed or hunt.
Sheep can read minds.
All cats are gay. They are also skilled carpenters, shaping wood using saws, chisels, and finishing by using their tongues as sandpaper.
Cats can see ghosts, but don't find them very interesting.
Mammoths are made entirely of hair and tusks. They are extremely hardy creatures, built to cope with cold climates and harsh conditions, but as their habitat began to recede at the end of the last Ice Age the survival of the species was in doubt.
Consequently, a herd of several thousand mammoths was sent to colonise Mars, and a healthy population lives on the cold red planet to this day.
Mammoths can start fires by emitting laser from their eyes.
Cheese has been a staple part of the diet in many parts of the world since as far back as anyone can remember, including the oldest person there is (whose memory is going a bit, admittedly. Although he does remember the war. But he doesn't like to talk about it).
Cheeses are made by adding bacteria to the milk of animals; normally cow's milk, but sheep, goat, mammoth, vampire and lizard milk can also be used. The milk is placed in a large wooden vat and then music is played to excite the bacteria in the milk into a crazy protein frenzy.
Commonly, fast tunes such as a sailor's hornpipe, a gypsy dance, or gabba are played, to produce a robust, nutty taste, but a classical piece such as Brahms' Rhapsody for Alto and Male Chorus (Op. 53) can result in a more mellow cheese, especially when used on a lazy milk such as that of the tortoise or the cat.
There are as many cheeses as there are grains of sand in a sandwich eaten on a sandy beach. Some of the most exquisite varieties include Fromage de Dieu, Hebridean Fuck, Bavarian Hundkäse and Princess Diana's Tit Cheese.
Elvis Presley (c.2500BC - AD1977) was born to a tribe of Neolithic herdsmen in the Preseli mountains of South Wales in the mid 3rd Millienium BC. A natural singer from an early age, he found it difficult to fit in with his semi-nomadic stone-monument-building peers, and as soon as he was able he left for Mississippi, Lancs.
He started playing in a band and quickly became famous for mixing the hitherto 'black' sound of bashment and dancehall with the 'white' sound of 17th Century Baroque. Much of his early work took place at the Sun Studios, though in his later career he excused the topless Page 3 modelling he did there as 'the mere exuberance of youth, man...thangyuverrmush'.
Within a few years his fame had spread world-wide, and he had regular appearances on TV, radio and toast. His stage shows became increasingly extravagant and elaborate, to the point where he opened one 1968 show by invading Luxembourg at the head of an army of gorillas in pink neon-lit top hats, accompanied by a full cavalry of robotic giraffes carrying giant guitars.
Soon, however, people grew tired of his by now overblown style, and he started to lose his appeal for many fans, young and old. A degree of the criticism levelled at him in his later career seems to have been due to misunderstandings of his lyrics, however, as there were occasions when he would be chased from a betting shop or pub while people tried to put bread on his blue suede shoes, or urged him to 'return to Sandwich'.
As his popularity waned, his misuse of alcohol, amphetamines and angel delight increased. He quickly retreated into fish-and-chip fuelled obscurity in Bournemouth.
Elvis died in 1977 as the result of a bizarre accident with a bassoon and a tortoise. He is survived by two children, Mordred and Balthazar.
The position of prime minister is the most important in the British political machine (a concept that became famous after the Queen's famous description of Harold Wilson as much like "the dial on a washing machine - without him the nation can't wash its smalls").
The prime minister is so called because he or she is a minister not divisible by any other political figure, except 1 or him/herself. The office itself was established in the Second World War by Winston Churchill, who was also the first nodding affirmative action dog to run a state.
Famous prime ministers have included Mark Thatcher, Hampstead Heath and Morticia Addams.
(Also known as wraiths, phantasms, spooks and spirits)
A ghost is what is left of a person after the soul has gone to the underworld, the body has turned to dust, and all the clothes have been given to a charity shop.
Ghosts have been around for several millennia. Several classical Greek plays contain references to ghosts, most famously in the comedy Heebie-Jeebies in Thebes by Aristophanes and the tragic Don't tell the Archon his Wife is See-through by Euripides.
In the medieval period it was thought that ghosts were caused by bad smells. They were generally regarded as pests, and most households would have their own scented priest to keep the ghosts away. Outside of the peak ghosting period, the priests were stored in priest-holes, which can still be seen in some ex-local authority flats today.
These days the public attitude towards ghosts is quite different, and ghosts perform many useful tasks such as slamming doors mysteriously, breaking unwanted crockery and making children talk with unearthly grown-up voices, which provides hours of family entertainment around Christmas time.
"Fruit, glorious fruit!" as the song goes. We all know what fruit is, but do you ever wonder what it is?
Well, fruit has been around longer than the dinosaurs, as we know from fossilised fruit bowls found in the Gulf of Mexico. A fruit is sort of like a brightly coloured sack of jelly, within which seeds are stored. Animals, such as sparrows, gorillas or children eat the fruit, and discard the seeds or swallow them. The seeds, thrown aside or passed in the sparrow/gorilla/child's digestive waste, will with luck fall on fertile ground and grow into a healthy plant. This is the way many plants choose to propagate themselves, as it is cheaper than having babies.
Some of the more common fruits are:
Apples contain pips, which make a sort of beeping sound. There are hundreds of varieties of apples, including Hitler, Something for the Weekend, Chanel No 5, Motorhead, Bertram's Sigh, and Peeping Turtle.
Bananas are in fact naturally straight, and grow in regimented lines 3 deep. The current curved shape only became popular during the 18th Century when bananas were used as masques and headpieces at society balls. A banana was launched into space in the late 1950s as part of the Russian space programme, as it was thought to be the fruit that most resembles human physiognomy.
The pear can only be harvested in the full moon, otherwise it withers to dust on picking. Pears are particularly useful in cooking; if sliced in half they can be used as paperweights to hold open the pages of the cookbook. 'Pear' is cockney rhyming slang for apple.
Melons are so named because they come from the same plant as honey (mel) is made from. Melons come in all shapes and sizes, from tennis ball to bowling ball, and there is one variety shaped exactly like a duck. As the Elizabethan tongue-twister had it, "My melon's more merry than a mummified mirkin (quack quack)". The melon is the only fruit that can scream.
The term vegetable is used to describe any edible plant, or part of a plant, just as 'sausage' is used to describe any edible, or inedible, part of a pig.
There are a great many varieties of vegetable. Some, like the swede, the turnip, the parsnip and the catnip are grown underground, like tube trains. Vegetables can also be the edible stem, leaves or smell of a plant.
The word vegetable is from the ancient Greek.
Some common vegetables:
The tomato was invented by crossing a Thompson's Gazelle with a potato. Tomato seeds are the only seeds that can grow in space. The tomato is the national symbol of Venezuela.
Reputedly introduced into Britain from Lapland by Father Christmas, so that his reindeer would have something to eat during postal strikes. It is well known, however, that carrots are not native to Lapland, the home of the Reindeer/Kris Kringle partnership. This casts their origins into doubt. It is possible that carrots were created by elves, or even that they do not exist at all.
Contrary to popular belief, the cauliflower is neither a flower nor a dog. It is in fact a bacterium of the genus Spachococcus. Best eaten with baked beans or fine wine, or both.
Also known as Puccini (US English). The courgette is a popular houseplant due its bright flowers and carnivorous floating seedpods which can clear a room of flies and small pets in minutes. Courgettes are the only vegetable which doesn't float in milky tea.
A member of the brassica family along with the cabbage, the lettuce and the tuba. 'Sprout' is cockney rhyming slang for public transport.
“Food is the stuff that dreams are made of,” wrote William Shakespeare, in his play A Midsummer Night’s Picnic. The playwright referred to the deep and detailed relationship between what is known as ‘food’ and the average human psyche. Food is the remnants of ancient spacedust that was shod from space bolides many millions of aeons ago, and has come to be found in supermarkets, fridges or picnic hampers. By placing these items into one’s mouth, and chewing, swallowing and digesting, energy can be obtained for the body. This energy can then be used to move the body around, hoover in one hand, walkie talkie in the other, going commando as you do the housework. One must be careful as to what sort of food one consumes however, as certain foods have been known to trigger allergies that can result in a person becoming quite dangerously ill. Some people, for example, are allergic to wasps. Other people are allergic to tables. For these people, it is wise to avoid such foods and the medical establishment recommend they carry a packet of Polos with them at all times in case of emergency. Other important attributes of food are taste, smell, sight and sound. These are explained in more detail below.
The planets are named after the characters in a radio soap opera written by Gustav Holst during the First World War. Though known since ancient times, they have only recently been mapped by the Ordnance Survey to help walkers exercise their right to roam across the entire solar system.
In order of proximity to the nearest Starbucks, the planets are as follows:
Mercury - the current Mercury is actually a replacement, put into orbit in 1974 after the original was stolen. An awards ceremony takes place each year on the planet, when a panel of judges awards the Mercury Music Prize for the UK's best pop song about science.
Goals against: 8
Venus - Venus is named after a character created by the Roman business magnate and politician Marcus Licinius Crassus as part of a campaign to boost sales of clams. Venus became associated with love because clams were thought to be an aphrodisiac by Lucius Menius, a shopkeeper in Tarentum in the late 1st Century BC.
Just like love
Earth - the earth is home to the only intelligent life in the entire universe, but unfortunately this has not been located yet.
Mars - contrary to popular myth, Mars is not made of chocolate; it is in fact made of soap. It has two moons, Deimos and Phobos, which translate from the ancient Greek as 'panic' and 'fear'. They are so named in acknowledgement of the reaction bathtime elicits in many young children.
Jupiter - named after the King of the Gods in Roman mythology, Jupiter is both the largest and the smallest of the planets. No-one knows how it manages this. Jupiter has a large red spot which is in fact a bruise from a collision with Neptune. It should clear up in a couple of weeks.
Sense of smell: 25
Saturn - Saturn is famed for its rings, each of which is made from a different material, starting with papier mache, tin foil and toilet roll tubes in the inner rings, through plasticine, snot, flags and glass in the middle sections, to hair, gold, bread and tears in the outer rings. Saturn itself is just a big ball of rock, and has 'Greetings from Eastbourne' written across its core.
Distance from Birmingham: 157
Liking of opera: 74
Uranus - despite its name, Uranus is a planet. It has many moons, including Sun Myung Moon, Howard Moon and Blue Moon, and the Moomins, which are to be more precise asteroids. On Neptune it is illegal to play ball games or have barbecues.
Miles per gallon: 46.3
Neptune - Neptune is one of the gas giants, along with Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, which is what gives it a slight eggy smell. Neptune is the largest producer of margarine and vegetable oil products in the solar system.
Pluto - although traditionally included in the list of 9 planets, Pluto has been scientifically re-evaluated in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries and found to be a rodent. It orbits the sun once a week, and twice at Christmas.
Shoe size: 9
Following the death of Edward the Confessor in January 1066, a dynastic struggle broke out, with the Saxon King Harold Godwinson, Norwegian King Harald Hardrada, and pop-band Abba all contesting the throne of England.
After the coronation of Godwinson, both Hardrada and Abba mounted invasions of England. Hardrada landed his ships on the Yorkshire coastline and headed inland. He was defeated by Godwinson at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea FC had kindly provided their home ground as the venue for the battle.
Abba, on the other hand, travelled into London on the Eurostar, having obtained cheap tickets for their entire army by collecting coupons in the Sun newspaper. They were met at Waterloo International station by an exhausted Saxon army under Harold Godwinson. After a bloody battle that raged in and around WHSmith, Sock Shop and the bagel kiosk, the Saxons were defeated. Abba took the throne of England and celebrated their victory with their number 1 hit 'Fernando'.
See also Dame Shirley Portaloo, the Bakerloo line (inaugurated by Sherlock Holmes), and the Peterloo Stringfellow massacre.
Science was invented in fin-de-siecle Norway by Roald Dahl who was wondering how long he should leave his socks in the tumble dryer. To answer his own question, he divided the situation into three disciplines: Biology, Chemistry and the Physic. In so doing, he not only discovered that socks should be tumble dried for an optimum time of 7.3 mins, but also generated an infinite field of academic enquiry that has chanced upon the answers to some of life's greatest mysteries, such as Geoff Capes or Nicholas Parsons.
Most of science takes place in people's basements or in the spare room. To qualify as a scientist, it is required that you wear a proud moustache and own at least one change of underwear for every day of the week. If you want to apply to be a member of the scientific community, you have to fill in a form with your name and your birthday and what you want for Christmas and tick a box for which discipline you feel best suited: Biology, Chemistry or Advanced Eugenics. If you tick the last box a policeman may come round to your house though, so be sure to answer the question correctly.
Some famous scientists include people like Poirot, Inspector Morse, Columbo and Tosh (from The Bill). Some of the more well known scientific discoveries include how to get tiny ships in wine bottles and Nicholas Parsons.
A supergroup formed in the late 1960s by the coming together of Noel Edmonds, Noel Fielding, Noel Coward and Pele. After early pop hits such as 'Lovely llama lady', 'I brought flowers for you but a dog ate them' and 'My mum wears trousers like that', they entered a darker psychedelic phase, releasing now seminal pieces such as 'Dark Park Lark', 'Away with the hairy fairies' and 'This isn't my dinner'. The pressures of touring and artistic differences led to Noel Coward splitting away from the group and forming his own punk act 'Bitsch Putsch'. Without the glue he provided the band quickly fell apart (solvent abuse was rife in the pop world at this point). Pele became a professional footballer after constructing his own bionic legs following a car accident. Noel Fielding invented false teeth and thereafter lived off the proceeds. No-one knows the whereabouts of Noel Edmonds.
An unpleasant substance added to bathroom walls and ceilings to make them look 'lived in'. Named after comedian and raconteur Victor Mildew, who, on being told that the bathroom of a luxury townhouse contained original Edwardian fittings, said, 'I don't believe you.'
Birds are creatures of the air, like angels. They evolved hundreds of years ago from dinosaurs, which in turn evolved from eggs. You can often recognise a bird from its song. Most birds like pop songs, but some like classical – the bald eagle for example is a big fan of Rachmaninov, although lately the species has been discovered listening to contemporary works from Phillip Glass. One of the best ways to tell what sort of bird you are looking at is to check its CD collection.
Another distinguishing feature of birds, or wildfowl as they are known, is the gigantic pair of wings that frequently protrude from their bodies. Wings consist of two very large feathers that go up and down in a process known to the scientific community as ‘flapping.’ As one goes up the other goes down, and through this intuitive harnessing of one of the key principles of physics (Einstein’s theory of relativity – ‘what goes up must come down’), they have mastered the power of flight. Often you will find a pigeon flying around the engine of a Boeing 747 or until very recently a Concorde. Concorde itself is part bird, part plane, like superman. There are many different species of birds, outlined in further detail below, but some favourites are the mallard, the ostrich and the Boeing 747.
Unsolicited advertising by email. The name derives from an advertising campaign by the British Board of Meat Marketing in the early 1950s, which involved posting envelopes of processed meat through the letterboxes of thousands of British households. After hundreds of complaints and two minor acts of arson, the campaign was withdrawn.
Born Ferdinand Josef Mortenburg in imperial Vienna in the early 18th Century, 'Jelly Roll' Morton became one of the pioneers of Jazz in the years leading up to the First World War. He later turned his attention to physics, becoming one of the leading lights in the rush to develop nuclear weapons during the late 1930s. Working closely with his brothers Swiss Roll and Bog Roll, he was on the point of unveiling the first atom bomb when his work was cut short by his untimely death in 1941 following a overdose of jazz flute.
Before he received his honorary doctorate from the Queen, (Dr) Neil Fox worked in the secret service, successfully completing a record number of missions in South America, China, the Middle East, the former USSR and Yorkshire.
On leaving the shady world of international espionage, he went into radio, and has presented popular shows on Capital Radio and Magic FM, as well as some TV game shows and stuff.
He is not a fox; he is in fact a man like you or me.
A forerunner of the modern game of cricket. One player stands in front of an upright target or wicket with a wooden club or bat. Another player, the bowler, throws a fruit towards the wicket, normally an apple or orange, but a banana, a grape or a watermelon could be used depending on availability. The first player must hit the fruit away so that it doesn't strike the wicket.
See also fruitbowl.
The male organ of a flower. In 1992 a botanist recorded the microscopic sounds made by a number of different varieties and released what became the first hit single based entirely on noises made by plants. The song also made reference to the rare Ebenezer Tree with the line "Ebenezer Trees are good".
Mice is the plural of moose. For centuries mice were considered vermin, until it was discovered in the 20th Century that mice have magical powers.
Elephants are afraid of mice, which is why they have never become computer literate.
The current Queen, Elizabeth II, was elevated to the post of Head of State in 1953 after inventing the concept of monarchy as part of a GCSE project. Since then she has made a name for herself on the darts circuit, and takes time out to wave from carriages and open things. She still runs the same cucumber sandwich shop opened by her father Don King in 1932. Her favourite colour is aubergine and her favourite Beatle was Noel.