Close encounters with pointless trivia

ARE YOU sick of millennium polls? The kind that tell you who was the greatest composer of the last thousand years or what was the greatest song of the century? Well, that's too bad, because today I have another load of millennium awards to dish out, which have to be distributed before AD2000 starts.

Most misleading message in history

The piece of paper that Neville Chamberlain brought back from Hitler, thinking that it meant "Peace in our time", which should have taught us never to trust office memos again.

Most famous one-limbed sailor

A tie between Lord Nelson and Long John Silver.

The person to whom most witty lines have been attributed, even though they never said them in the first place

Male winner: Oscar Wilde.

Female winner: Dorothy Parker.

Most common lie of the late 20th century

"We can't come to the phone right now", which on telephone answering machines means: "We're right here but we're listening to the answering machine to see if it's someone we want to talk to before we pick the phone up."

Most widespread misleading written statement in modern times

"Yours sincerely".

Most persistent superstition in an age of rationality

The belief that a horse will go faster if it is backed with sufficient money.

The cliche most likely to be rendered superfluous by the coming age of electronic banking

"The cheque's in the post."

Most dubious honour of all time

"Man's best friend", awarded to dogs, even though dogs were never consulted and would probably ask for a hefty redefinition of the title.

Three late-20th-century developments in the application of time that even Albert Einstein, with all his work on relativity, never predicted

The expiry date on a credit card; the sell-by date on a bottle of milk; Blind Date.

Most frequent radio announcement of all time

"And now, Alistair Cooke's Letter from America..."

The most time-wasting invention of the last 100 years

Wrapping paper.

Commonest form of mass delusion in the 20th century

The regular, irrational urge that seizes large and otherwise apparently sane cities to apply to be host of the Olympic Games.

Best motto for life ever found on a matchbox

"Keep in a dry place and away from children."

Best example of a name of a character from a book that has passed into the everyday language, while the book and the character have become utterly forgotten

Lothario.

A 20th-century mystery that nobody wants explained but everyone wants to preserve as a 21st-century mystery

Crop circles.

Most pointless invention of the last 100 years

Telephone polls.

Best method of concealing the true price of an object in a shop from the potential customer

Dead heat between antique dealers' coded prices in antique shops and bar-codes in supermarkets.

Most idiotic statement by any politician anywhere at any period in history

"Either a thing is true or it isn't true," said by Ann Widdecombe on Desert Island Discs in 1999.

Most mysterious organisation of modern times, even more so than the Freemasons

The Gideons, because apart from the fact that they distribute the Holy Bible to hotel rooms, nobody knows anything about them - where they come from, what they do it for, how often they have to replace bibles (probably the least stolen item of all those on offer in hotel rooms) or how you join. Has any of us ever met someone who said casually: "Yes, I'm a member of the Gideons, and they do an excellent three-course lunch..."?

Well, then.

More off-the-beaten-track millennium awards tomorrow

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week