Silly Questions: Seasonally adjusted trends mean it is Middlemarch

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The Independent Culture
'LOOK,' says Gary Winter in a Barnsley accent, replying to our question of why the BBC broadcast Middlemarch in early February, 'All Our Yesterdays is on tomorrow; Tomorrow's World was on yesterday; This Week was on last week and again next; Tonight was on last night and there's no bugger knows when t'Good Old Days will be back again.'

'Beware the Ides of Middlemarch,' warned several of our readers, suggesting that the BBC chose their transmission dates after learning from Julius Caesar's fate. Tom Gaunt blames the use of a computer for scheduling programmes, and tells us that A Winter's Tale will be broadcast in July, A Midsummer Night's Dream in January and Christmas specials at Easter. The computer is currently seeking a slot for Back to the Future.

S J Williams provides an explanation from a government spokesman: 'Taking account of seasonal adjustments, the programme was, in fact, broadcast in the middle of March.'

John Bartlett blames George Eliot: 'She would surely have dismissed Middlefebruary as a title for her greatest novel'. John Winter, however, believes it is an instance of the great helpfulness of the BBC, who realise that most viewers will have taped the programmes and will not watch them until next month anyway.

Stuart Cockerill points out that the BBC is a haven for Russian spies, many of whom are stuck in the dogma of the Julian Calendar where March falls in February to allow the October Revolution to happen in November, or possibly the other way round.

Talking of which, Fred Cockerill writes: 'I see our Stuart has been pestering you again. The blighter] Thinks he's so good 'cos he's been in the Independent for weeks. I'll show him. Wait till he sees this]' Tim Cockerill, who thought that his surname was quite rare, points out that the Staffordshire Cockerills have almost died out.

Which bring us to why some answers received at Silly Questions do not seem to relate to anything we have ever asked.

Michael Rubinstein says 'the rub of this is the intrusion of the word 'seem'. Such answers are based on readings between the lines, which is precisely how one should read the answers.'

Unfortunately, we read between the lines of the rest of his undoubtedly erudite and all-encompassing answer, and detected only blankness.

Responding to the same question, Tony Bremner writes: 'The Council of Nicea met in 325AD to establish definitively what was to be believed by Orthodox Christians. The statement drawn up by bishops established the doctrine of the Trinity which was further clarified by the Athanasian creed of 425.'

On the question of flapping tabs on jumpers and sewn-down tabs on shirts, David Hart points out that flapping shirt-tabs would tickle us. 'The real question is, why would tickling just there be so amazing that it's prohibited by some secret code in the tailoring industry?'

Which bring us to this week's questions: Why do farmers always put the gate in the muddiest part of the field? (J Weyman). Why are the four fingers on each hand of different lengths? (George Clough). Where do all the brass monkeys go in the summer? (G Winter). Answers and more mysteries to: Silly Questions, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

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