There’s nothing I like more on a hot and boring Tuesday morning than a good old-fashioned random ‘news’ story. And, in that context, my long-time readers will know that I particularly like hearing about weird lost property (like the full-size replica Dalek left behind in a hotel room a few years ago. One hopes it didn’t exterminate the cleaning staff). Honestly, this stuff is fascinating. Keep with me here, you’ll like this.
Train company First TransPennine Express has this week released a list of things that have been handed in to its lost property department. Alongside the usual phones, wallets, umbrellas, sets of keys and pairs of specs, there are some distinctly strange items that people have left on trains. Here are a few:
1 bag of haggis
1 6ft inflatable dinosaur
1 framed photo of Mary Berry
1 Barry Manilow CD
1 bottle of champagne
1 wooden casket (of ashes)
Personally, I think these items speak volumes about the general oddness of the British psyche. I’m still puzzling over the picture of Mary Berry. She may be a baking legend, a national treasure and a bit of a fashion icon, but why would anyone want a framed photo of her (outside of her family, obviously)? And who loses a bottle of champagne? I’d be very careful to get that home in one piece so I could drink it. I mean, really. Then there’s the six foot inflatable dinosaur. Did it need its own ticket?
I have my suspicions about the Barry Manilow CD though. If that traveller was anything like me, they left that appalling object on the train deliberately….
It’s that time of the year again – the Diagram Prize is back. For readers unfamiliar with my slight obsession over this rather strange literary award, it is an annual prize given, rather wonderfully, to the book with the oddest title of the year. It began in 1978 when Trevor Bounford and Bruce Robertson of The Diagram Group were bored at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and has run ever since (apart from 1987 and 1991, when odd book titles were sadly thin on the ground).
Now administered by The Bookseller, previous seriously odd winners have included Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice (1978), Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop (2012) and the utterly fabulous Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (2003) (I still want to know if that’s a big book of horse stories for lesbians, or a big book of stories about lesbian horses). Can this year’s shortlist better those?
Here are this year’s odd contenders:
Divorcing a Real Witch: For Pagans and the People That Used to Love Them by Diana Rajchel
Nature’s Nether Regions by Menno Schilthuizen
The Ugly Wife is Treasured at Home by Melissa Margaret Schneider
Strangers Have the Best Candy by Margaret Meps Schulte
Where do Camels Belong? by Ken Thompson
Advanced Pavement Research: Selected, Peer Reviewed Papers from the 3rd International Conference on Concrete Pavements Design, Construction, and Rehabilitation, December 2-3, 2013, Shanghai, China edited by Bo Tian
The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones by Sandra Tsing-Loh
To find out more about each of these very odd titles, visit We Love This Book.
If you’d like to take part and vote for your favourite, you can make your choice here.
You’ve got until 00:01 on Saturday 21st March to decide which of these titles is the oddest of them all – the winner will be announced on Friday 27th March. I’ll update you with details of the winning entry as soon as I can!
UPDATE 31/03/15: And the winner is… Strangers Have the Best Candy by Margaret Meps Schulte. Not the title I expected to win, but there you go! Lots more info here.
I’ve written before about the incredibly strange and random things people have been known to leave behind on the London Underground, on planes and in hotel rooms (it still amazes me that someone once checked out of a hotel and drove away without remembering they’d left a full size replica Dalek in their room (no, really). And, incidentally, how do you get a full size replica Dalek in your car anyway?).
Since 1934, items left behind on London’s buses, the tube and in taxis have been taken to the Transport for London Lost Property Office on Baker Street, an Aladdin’s cave of everything from abandoned umbrellas to forgotten mobile phones and beyond. But alongside the everyday things we all occasionally misplace, there’s also some very weird and wonderful things that have been sitting in the TfL Lost Property Office, just waiting to be reunited with their owners…
- A giant red-nosed reindeer stuffed toy
- A pair of size 17 trainers, belonging to a basketball player
- A stuffed puffer fish
- A gas mask
- A mannequin head used by trainee hairdressers to practice on
- A school crossing guard’s ‘lollipop’
- A gorilla costume, wearing an Hawaiian shirt
- An assortment of African carvings
- A life-sized stuffed Spiderman
- A pair of breast implants
- A wedding dress
Luckily, about a quarter of the lost property items found on the London transport network will be returned to their owners – but I suspect the giant red-nosed reindeer has metaphorically missed the boat (or possibly sleigh) this year…
Back in May of last year, I posted on the subject of strange words for unusual concepts. That provoked a lot of interesting responses from you all, so I (perhaps a little belatedly!) decided it was time to dig out a few more weird and wonderful words to define for you. Some of these lexicographical oddities may be more familiar than others, but they all refer to strangely familiar ideas and experiences you might be surprised to know there is even a word for!
Well, I’ll be @*&%ed, so that’s what a grawlix is! And indeed, that sentence contains an excellent example of exactly what a grawlix is – the use of a string of random punctuation marks to indicate swearing, more usually seen in comic book speech bubbles. Created as what was, quite frankly, a bit of a private joke by the American cartoonist Mort Walker in the 1960s, the use of the word grawlix to indicate such a concept has come to take on a validity and a life of its own. By the early 1980s, Walker had written The Lexicon of Comicana, which defined both grawlix and a number of other rather excellent words for common comic book concepts including squeans (the squiggles round a character’s head indicating drunkenness or dizziness), solrads (lines indicating the brightness of the sun or a light) and briffits (the cloud of dust left behind when a character dashes away at speed). Walker’s book is still in print and has become a key text for anyone studying the art of the cartoonist.
At the end of last month, I wrote my annual post about the Diagram Prize – which is probably the oddest, and certainly my favourite, literary prize of the year. The winner of the 2014 Prize was announced yesterday after a public vote, with top spot going to the very weirdly-titled (and possibly a little pointless?) How To Poo On A Date: The Lovers’ Guide To Toilet Etiquette by Mats & Enzo.
In a statement, the publishers of How To Poo On A Date drily commented:
We are very happy and honoured that the public thought our book worthy of first place in this much sought-after prize; we’d have been disappointed to be number two.
Well folks, we’ve reached that time in the literary calendar again. The nominations have been announced for the 2014 Diagram Prize, which is awarded annually to the book with the oddest title of the year – and just so happens to be my favourite book award for that very reason (you can read about previous Diagram Prizes here).
So, as usual, here are this year’s prestigious nominees (and yes, these are all real, published books)…
Working Class Cats: The Bodega Cats of New York City by Chris Balsiger and Erin Canning
Are Trout South African? by Duncan Brown
How to Poo on a Date by Mats & Enzo
Pie-ography: Where Pie Meets Biography by Jo Packham
How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God by Ian Punnett
The Origin of Faeces by David Walter-Toews
I’m not sure what my choice would be yet, but I’m currently leaning towards the South African fish for some reason. If you’d like to cast your vote for this year’s prizewinner, visit We Love This Book here. The results will be announced on March 21st and I’ll be reporting back on the title of the victorious volume…
I’ve written before about the weird things that people leave behind in places like the Tube network and in hotels (as well as the bizarre items people pinch from said hotels!), so naturally I couldn’t resist when I came across this list of strange things found on planes by cabin crew from around the world. I wonder if any of these items were ever reclaimed by their owners?
A bag of sand
Box of dried fish
Bag of diamonds
Bag of onions
One egg (without packaging)
Written marriage proposal
I’m aware how exhausting air travel can be, and I’m pretty sure that some of these items of lost property are probably explained by excitable passengers attempting to join the Mile High Club, but one wonders just how forgetful you would have to be to to leave something like a double bass on a plane? Or a bag of diamonds. Or your wedding dress. Or even a live falcon – although I guess I should be grateful I’m not having to discuss snakes on a plane…
More than three hundred posts.
Over six hundred comments.
Almost fifty-three thousand views.
And you, the reader…
Yes, today is Another Kind Of Mind’s fourth birthday. I can’t quite believe that, but it’s true. I never imagined this blog would make it to four years, let alone be as (comparatively) successful as it has been.
Thank you, all of you. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for liking, for sharing, for all your support. For making this slightly eccentric and opinionated personal blog what it is today – and for continuing to inspire me and make me smile every time I log on to WordPress.
And a very happy birthday to Another Kind Of Mind!
Earlier this month, I posted about my latest music list – this time, I’ve been counting down my Top 50 albums of the 1990s. If you’d like to discover more about my choices (and check out some other great lists), you can visit the dedicated Top Fifty Nineties Album blog where you’ll find my reviews for each album and some great videos too. In the meantime, as promised, here’s a quick rundown of my now-completed list all the way from fifty to one…
50) Cornershop – When I Was Born For The 7th Time (1997)
49) Lo-Fidelity Allstars – How To Operate With A Blown Mind (1998)
48) Sabres Of Paradise – Haunted Dancehall (1994)
47) The Lemonheads – It’s A Shame About Ray (1992)
46) Primal Scream – Vanishing Point (1997)
45) The Chemical Brothers – Brothers Gonna Work It Out (1998)
44) Cypress Hill – Black Sunday (1993)
43) The Prodigy Presents: The Dirtchamber Sessions Vol. 1 (1999)
42) UNKLE – Psyence Fiction (1998)
41) Tricky – Maxinquaye (1995)
Yes, the music lists are back! Only this time I’m doing it all slightly differently…
As the title suggests, this new list is of my Top 50 albums of the 1990s (if you are a music fan you’ll know that this was a brilliant era for great albums!). I was in my teens and early 20s during the 1990s, and it was a formative period for my taste in music – a lot of the choices on this list have a very deep emotional resonance for me, and I decided I wanted to write about that. So, instead of inflicting fifty geeky music essays on you, I set up a dedicated blog for this challenge, and it is that I have been working on over the last few weeks.
When the whole list is completed, I’ll be posting a rundown of the full Top 50 on Another Kind Of Mind (of course), but in the meantime you can catch up with all my selections so far on the new blog here.
And if you’d like to see even more Top 50’s of the 1990s (and a few links to the results of previous music list challenges) as compiled by some of the lovely people on Twitter, you can find them here.
I’ve had some fantastic feedback on my list choices and the new blog already (there’s still 20 albums to go!), and I’d love to hear what you have to say. Feel free to head on over to the blog and leave a comment, or check the list as it goes out on Twitter (hashtag #CB90sTop50) – I look forward to hearing from you!