Silly Question: A hit or miss affair?

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BLACK gloves, navel fluff, ID cards and, again, wire coat-hangers have filled readers' minds this week, the last spilling over from Tuesday's Creativity cupboard.

Correlating various suggestions to explain the single black glove on railings by a bus stop, it is clear we are dealing with a bimodal phenomenon. One-man buses may cause gloves to be dropped while rummaging for the fare, but this theory predicts a strong preponderance of right-hand gloves, of which there is no evidence. The other factor is the rain. The man in the street, to avoid the discomfort of wet gloves in his pocket, places one to dry on the railing then walks to the next bus stop and leaves the other there before boarding the bus. By splitting the gloves, he ensures they will not be stolen.

Navel fluff is easier. We were wrong in suggesting that such fluff was caused by clothing. It is, of course, a bodily secretion, greyish- blue and not unlike ectoplasm.

Michael McGuire says that the D in ID Card stands for Disc, after identity discs worn in the war. This would make ID Card (Identity Disc Card) a solecism. We take the view that it stands for Dentification, having an etymological link with the habit of identifying bodies through dental records.

Richard Coltart contradicts our assertion that the pupal form of a wire coat-hanger is an odd sock, maintaining instead that it is a full matchbox. We hope to hear from someone with definite knowledge of the life cycle of the coat-hanger.

We also want to know why we say 'a near miss', when we mean a near hit? As Fabian Acker points out, a near miss is a collision.

Why do people say 'Cheap at half the price', when only 'Cheap at twice the price' makes any sense? (Barry Rigal and M J Roberts)

Whatever happened to mutton? (Geoffrey Langley).

Why do the names of nearly all Italian composers (Verdi, Vivaldi, Puccini) end in 'i', while their painters and sculptors (Donatello, Michaelangelo, Giotto) end in 'o'? (Andrew Potter)

The answer to Dr Roy's puzzle on the year with most dates that work as multiplication sums (like 31 x 3 = 93) is not 1960 except in double leap years, but 1924.

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