15/ The Balkans
If only they stopped making new countries for five minutes we could learn the current ones: Serbia, Croatia, Sierra Leone, Alderaan…
Far too stressful. Stick with good old reliable News At Ten, with its digestible headlines and superficial investigative standards – just enough knowledge to keep up with the spods at work. And no Paxman to remind us of our dad.
13/ Women’s fashion
Talk about gilding the lily. Girls possess the ultimate clothes-horse to work with: the female body. But how do they adorn this sublime, warm curvature? Baggy gypsy skirts, that’s what. Leggings. Gold ballet pumps. Military fringes. Big-arsed culottes. And many more scraps of unflattery that we can only stare at in Vogue, mystified, wondering whatever happened to the miniskirt.
You’re down with the basics – once a month ‘there will be blood’. But beyond that… are they really fertile during, or just before the deluge? What is that blood, anyway – the lining of her stomach? And does it really mean she’s a witch?
“The fish, sir? Excellent choice. So you’ll want a Sancerre to complement the monkfish’s subtle nuances. Don’t you find the acidity helps cut through the oily richness! The cost? Just £27, sir. Sorry? So… three Labatt tops it is.”
10/ Offside trap
Traditionally the litmus test to weed out non-football fans or, worse, girls. But now? Does the defender gain the advantage… is he interfering with play? Is there ‘daylight’? What? Thanks, Sepp Blatter: now we’re all women.
9/ 2001: A Space Odyssey
They say: “Kubrick debunks the humanist vision of man’s development through increasing knowledge with his portrayal of the modernist apotheosis of technology – a ‘mechanarchy’ if you will.” We say: Not enough lasers or explosions.
Stop car. Wind down window. Beckon friendly yokel. Solicit instructions to niece’s christening. Heed four minutes of gesticulating navigation. Nod; smile. Wind up window. Instantly forget everything. Drive straight into cul-de-sac/flood zone/ex-Soviet minefield. Blame TomTom.
7/ Female friendships
Can you even call them “friendships”? Just look at your girlfriend’s motley collection of ‘mates’. One minute it’s a hand-holding, tearfully-hugging sisterhood who’d rather die than criticise someone’s shoes. The next? A blood-spitting, high-pitched melodrama of hierarchical jockeying that only ends when someone gets a boyfriend or dies of an eating disorder.
6/ What they’re saying in The Wire
So you once smoked some puff round the back of Feltham Boys’ Club. Didn’t prepare you for the narcotic underworld of Baltimore’s projects, did it? Just keep rolling your eyes at mum when she asks you, “what are those horrible men saying?” And then turn the subtitles back on when she leaves the room.
So… they can have sex with themselves, yes? Is that why you never see them out and about?
4/ Mobile phone contracts
Carphone Warehouse guy: “CheckthisoutgeezaNokia3526withbluetoothN-GageGPS200freeminutesandunlimitedtextsfiftyquidamonth.” You: “Just take everything I own.”
3/ Why ferries don’t sink
Buoyancy, ballast and centre of gravity, apparently. And definitely not because the Dover to Calais Seacat is in fact… like Jesus.
2/ People who speak with a mechanical larynx
“…Juhiwrfipj asnodsnu asq, masdijoijads nqekoasd…” “Err, can I record you for my voicemail please, Mr Robot?”
1/ The difference between Sunni and Shia
It’s a bit like American pop duo Sonny and Cher, isn’t it? They used to like each other, they had a hit TV show, they bitterly fell out, then one died in a skiing acciden… oh.