Chess: A Devon pub bids and waits

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The Independent Online
THE problem of anti-clockwise athletes has exercised the minds of many readers over the past week. We asked whether running anti-clockwise favoured athletes whose right legs were slightly longer than their left.

Several readers have drawn our attention to an article in the Scientific American in February 1893, which cites inequality in leg length as a major cause of people walking round in circles when lost in the desert. Careful measurements showed, it was claimed, that only 10 per cent of people have legs of equal length, while 35 per cent have longer right legs and 55 per cent longer left legs.

It could, therefore, be that anti- clockwise running stadiums are designed to improve the chances of the disadvantaged minority. Or it could be, as Fred and Jane Merlin of Leigh- on-Sea suggest, that athletes run anti-clockwise because they are running against the clock.

We have a probably definitive explanation, from Reverend Mike Dales of Bridgwater, of the surreal nature of fish. 'With reference to your exceedingly silly question: Why are surrealism and fish inextricably linked in the minds of joke tellers?', he writes, 'the answer is, of course, a banana'.

Here is a selection of further questions worrying readers that we hope may be cleared up in the weeks to come:

When a ringing phone has got you out of the bath, how does the caller know to hang up just as you reach it? (asked by E Adlam)

Why do people say 'if I were you', when they clearly mean 'if you were I'? If I were you, I would, of course, do exactly as you do (asked by both H R Jervis and B Simpson).

They say that you cannot fool all the people all the time, but how would we know if someone was doing so? (S Dawson).

Why do people, when stepping into an already overcrowded space, say 'everyone breathe in', when breathing expands the chest size rather than diminishing it? (Mollie Bond).

Why do people say 'turned round and said' when the person they were talking to was not rotating at the time? (G Langley).

And why, oh why, do Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia place restrictions on the importing by post of spoons, forks and whistles, while Afghanistan will not allow ashtrays or plastic flowers and Uganda bans Japanese shaving brushes? (Judith Neal).

If you have the answers to any of these mysteries, or have some questions of your own, please send them to Silly Question, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.