Silly Questions: The long and the short of it

THE QUESTION of why trousers are measured in even numbers for the waist and odd for the leg has aroused great interest. David J White thinks it helps avoid confusion. 'If you can remember 34/31, you do not have to remember which is which, as the 34 - being even - must be the waist, and the 31, being odd, must be the leg.'

Peter Lawson writes: 'I have a consistently even number from top to bottom (or foot) and an increasingly odd number round the middle. Assuming I am the exception, this would explain why most gentlemen from the United States, where trouser lengths have an even number of inches, wear their trousers to the ankle rather than the instep.'

We return, following Mr Lawson's problems with his foot and bottom, to last week's item on why the bottom is in the middle of the body. Stuart Cockerill denies mankind's schismatic transition from four legs to two. He suggests an intermediate tripedal stage when our ancestors toppled over backwards and the bottom became the third foot, functioning as a basal pseudopodium. 'Bottoms have to be in the middle,' says Stuart Grant, 'otherwise we'd still be standing up every time we sat down.'

We move on to how many Silly Questions answerers it takes to change a dark bulb. The numbers 42 and 10-to- the-42nd occurred in several answers, though never with any attempt at explanation.

James McLaren says it is at least 11: 'One to change it, four Yorkshiremen to complain about how new bulbs aren't what they used to be, and at least six Creativity column correspondents to find something to do with the other bulb.'

Mark Walmsley points out that a dark bulb only fails once in a blue moon, 'but when it does, it requires one Silly Questions answerer to change it, and several dozen to ruin their productivity by thinking about it laterally for a couple of days.'

H Francis Reed PhD points out that a dark bulb emits UV light which is not visible to the human eye, so we'd never realise it needed changing. Even if an observed change in the effector system were to suggest a change in state of the bulb, it might not be possible to determine any significant difference between a possible random event and a real effect, thus making it impossible to prove that the bulb needed changing.

Stuart Cockerill says: 'It is the ethos of the Silly Questions answerer not to change things, merely to analyse them.' So we'd fax for an electrician. His wife Christine, rather than putting pen to paper, puts Stuart to keyboard to say: 'The only light they notice is radiated from the computer screen and must be a very good source of vitamin D, otherwise they'd suffer from rickets or repetitive stress syndrome, or something like that.'

Which is as good a note as any on which to take our summer holiday. Only rhetorical answers will be accepted for the next fortnight at: The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing