Silly Questions: Why football referees dye their hair pitch black

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The Independent Culture
WE ASKED, last week, why people were more prolific at answering silly questions than answering them. Paul Clark suggests 'because it is possible to have several answers for one question, whereas each answer corresponds to only one question'. Len Clarke takes a similar view, though restricts it to questions of the silly genre: 'Unsilly questions usually have only one answer.' He gives, as an example, the question: 'How many quarks are there in a duck?' to which the answer, he claims, is 10 to the power 42.

James Royal-Lawson blames the psychological phenomenon known as letter envy. 'Silly questions tend to pop up in your head every now and then, but the fact that they appear only singly causes the problem of letter envy. The writer believes that his letter is far too small as it contains only one question and that everyone else's letters will contain replies to all of last week's questions plus numerous suggested original questions. The writer then decides that life is quite nice and pleasant as it is, without having to worry about the size of his letter and the social ranking it implies, and consequently gives up.'

P J Maitland believes that all silly questions will ultimately be met by one elegant but monumentally silly answer.

Why do football referees all have dark hair? Nicholas Gough draws our attention to a distinctive chap in the Italian football on Channel 4: 'The man is a fantastic referee and he is quite bald.' Whether he is bald of dark or blonde hair, however, is not clear.

'Blondness, unfortunately, tends to be associated with a certain lack of intellectual rigour,' says R J Pickles, citing the expression 'dizzy blonde' as an example. 'Therefore any blonde referee wishing to be taken seriously has to dye his hair dark or wear a wig.' Des Waller informs us that the 'faulty gene that causes football referees' is the same as that which determines dark hair. He adds: 'You may be interested to know that the gene that causes traffic wardens determines that they are all short, balding bureaucratic megalomaniacs with small bristly moustaches (including the men).'

'Have you ever noticed,' asks Caroline Hull, 'how infrequently albino frogs outperform their dark green relatives in the Arkansas Annual Frog Jump?' Mentioning also the relative lack of success of grey horses, she points out that blondes tend to attract the eye, and, since the act of observation affects the system observed, a drag effect is caused.

We now need to know: Why is the bottom half-way up the body? (Geoffrey Langley) What happened to Catch 21 and Catch 23? (Rufus Isaacs) How many Silly Question answerers does it take to change a dark bulb? (Paul Clark) Write to: Silly Questions, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.