Silly Questions: Shedding new dark on the story of Mr A C R O'Nym

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ALTHOUGH Cockerills Roam On North Yorkshire Moors, says Geoffrey Langley, 'acronym' as such doesn't mean anything. He says it is a traditional reference to Augustus Charles Reginald O'Nym, a friend of Eamon de Valera, who became fed up with writing his name in full. Richard Knowles, however, says it stands for Acrostically Coded Reference Obligingly Nudging Your Memory. John Hawgood suggests Allusively Compressed Record Of Name Yielding Memorability, or is it, as F G Robinson maintains, Actually Can't Remember the Original Names You Mentioned? Len Clarke denies there is any connection with Acrobatic Nymphomaniacs, but believes it is simply 'an attempt by a backwards lager-lout to spell Minorca'. Having cleared out the Acrojam (or Majorca to the same lout), we proceed to the important question of why you can't turn on the dark.

Des Waller denies that there is a problem: 'As many people know, you can turn on the dark. All you need do is use dark bulbs in place of light bulbs.' Among their uses he cites flood-darking on sports grounds, to enable winter games to be played on bright summer days. He also alludes to Einstein's theory of very special relativity, and its little-known formula e = md2, where d is the speed of dark.

A historical perspective is provided by John Berry, who traces the development of the 'black bulb' in wartime New Zealand, where it was used to confuse Japanese bombers. Sadly, it caused chaos on NZ roads and was outlawed in 1947. It has reappeared as part of the US Air Force Stealth Bomber technology. Brendan Johnson says it is well known that most of what we believe to be light bulbs are in fact dark bulbs whose efficient operation is interrupted by the flow of electricity.

Finally, we return to the topic of solitary teaspoons lurking in washing up bowls. Val Crysell informs us that these are the chrysalis stage of wire coat-hangers, their development destroyed by immersion, especially in Fairy Liquid. We now have a considerable backlog of answers to past questions which we hope to catch up with some day. Meanwhile, here are some more questions to help us add to the answer mountain.

Why are people so much more prolific at answering silly questions than asking them? (W Hartston) Why do the staples in the desk drawer never fit the machine that has just run out? (Arthur Grimshaw) Why, when moral virtues were fashionable as first names (eg Prudence, Faith, Verity) were they always given to girls, not boys? (M Beard). And lastly, Roger Baines asks: Why do almost all football referees have dark hair? Is there a connection between the qualities a referee needs and hair colour? If so, should not all fair-haired people be ineligible for positions of responsibility?

All comments should be sent to: Silly Questions, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

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