Silly Questions: Basics to back

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The Independent Culture
TODAY we have dinosaurs and gloves, but first the only letter we have ever received addressed to 'Silly Questions Agony Uncle', marked 'urgent'.

Ms Darling (who insists that is her real name) seeks inspiration: 'What is a suitable Valentine that a post-feminist might give to a pre-feminist, only just post-adolescent, fifty- something male to convey her sincere affection?'

Last week, we asked how the dinosaurs would explain the extinction of mankind if time ran backwards. Policy 'Basics to Back' Major's John is Len Clarke's answer. Fiona and John Earle, however, have a carbon-based explanation deduced from the symbiotic relationship between man and car: humanity became extinct when petrol turned into trees.

Daniel Wood has two theories: extinction could have followed the inexplicable loss of toe-nails during the early (or late from the conventional perspective) Stone Age. Or it could be something to do with 'the extraordinary way that the females of the species appear to indulge in a very painful and nine-month long ingestion of their own children'.

How should two people share a pair of gloves efficiently? Stuart Cockerill advises drawing up a legal contract 'guaranteeing each a share in each glove should they separate'. Mark Salisbury halves each glove to create two mittens and two thumb-and- finger warmers.

Geoffrey Langley dates that approach back to an 1847 paper by the Austrian philosopher J L Fingerlstein who cited it as an application of Boolean conditional branching to the Circular Theory of Diminishing Reciprocity. Anyway, Mr Langley's great aunt found Fingerlstein's methods very satisfactory when sharing a pair of gloves with her governess in Lucerne many years ago.

This week, Gavin Dobson, inspired by Lithuania, wants to know where you get an application form to join Nato, and how a newly independent nation gets around the problem of having to give the names of referees who have known it for three years.

David Young wants to know what happened to the Morris Major, and B O'Byrne seeks an explanation for scissors and trousers only occurring in pairs. Answers and more questions to Silly Questions, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.