Charles Nevin: I'd rather a chair than the floor

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The Independent Online

Happy Monday. Today, I read, is the 163rd anniversary of the patenting of the dental chair by Milton Hanchett, of Syracuse, New York, although some urge the claims of Josiah Flagg of Boston, some 58 years earlier. Before then, the average dentist would ask you to sit on the floor and then clasp your head between his knees from behind before proceeding to extraction. Some consolation as you sink slowly backwards to the doomy snap of those latex gloves, I should have said.

Tomorrow is 34 years to the day since the death (or not) of Elvis. Did you know that he called his manhood Little Elvis? He did. On the question of size, Thursday is the 219th anniversary of the birth of Lord John Russell, that great and Whiggish reformer who, at a shade over 5ft 3in, is our shortest Prime Minister. His lordship's namesake, Jack Russell, the former England wicket keeper, 48 today, is five inches taller and a man of interesting habit: his favourite Chinese food, for example, is chicken and cashews without the chicken. My favourite car stickerof all time, as it happens, is "I brake for Elvis".

Restlessness now in the workplace: many Germans, according to a report, don't like the custom of greeting colleagues with a kiss, while, in the US, office workers complain of increasing incivility in these stressed times. Here are some of my secrets for office harmony: 1) Do not stand too close when greeting colleagues with a sharp but courteous nod. 2) No winking until after lunch. 3) Ration your humming. 4) Greet male colleagues with a bonding and playful punch to the chest only if they are smaller than you. 5) Regular congas can counter deep vein thrombosis risks but shouldn't be compulsory.

Reassuring signs of a return to August normalities: A man in Qingdao has won his girlfriend's hand in marriage after dressing up with 48 friends as large carrots; a tortoise has been rescued from the slow lane of the M20; a sheep has got its head stuck in a bucket near Berwick-upon-Tweed; and a flying cow has landed on a car bonnet near Leek after jumping over a gate. Ogden Nash, born this week, 1902, was good on cows: "The cow is of the bovine ilk; One end is moo, the other is milk."