Charles Nevin: How to have a humming time at the start of what could be a real humdinger of a week

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The Independent Online

Happy Monday! Yes, yes, I know it can be a day on which the humdrum, the routine and the sheer sameness of life can lie as heavy as a contented elk, but that's why I'm here: to lay out the vast variety of human experience and, hopefully, inspire you into copying some of the following examples and pepping things up a bit.

Let's take a simple example. Have you ever thought about "humdrum"? It turns out, charmingly, to be rather an exciting word, of mysterious derivation. There's speculation that it's derived from "hum", but I see that as just another case of anti-humming prejudice.

I like humming. It's not dull at all, as anyone who has ever heard me doing the theme from The Magnificent Seven will readily agree. Where would Wink Martindale's "Deck of Cards" be without humming? Exactly. Has Elvis's debt to the humming of the Jordanaires, particularly on "Are You Lonesome Tonight?", ever been sufficiently acknowledged? I think not.

And now, I see, Australian aircraft engineers have worked out that wings produce up to 22 per cent better lift if a humming sound is played over them. No, no details yet on which hums work best, but I can tell you that I move much more easily when I'm doing "The Dambusters". Try it yourself today. But I'd build up slowly to "Space Oddity", if I were you.

Name your price

Something else to think about in the life-pepping area: a name change. The citizens of Sharer, in Kentucky, have been offered $100,000 to change its name to PokerShare.com by the eponymous online betting set-up. Are you from one of those fine Yorkshire resorts, Scarborough, say, or Bridlington? How about EeBay? Or EeBay.gum? Googleswick has a bit of ring to it, too. It wouldn't take much for Esher to become Esure, either. And I can't understand why Portrush hasn't approached Lastminute.com already.

But perhaps you fancy an even more drastic change. In which case, dogged readers will know immediately what I'm going to recommend: Germany, where something exciting is always happening. They've just had the World Beard and Moustache Championships. And now they've invented an interactive beer mat, which sends signals to the bar when your glass is empty. Going by my experience, I'd suggest its efficacy will depend on exactly where the receiver is attached, and whether electrodes are involved.

Staying with drinking technology, there was another outing last week for the one about the motorist testing positive for drinking when all he'd had was a Fisherman's Friend. Near Munich, this time. All to do with the effect of the lozenge's essential oils on handheld breathalysers, if we're to believe it.

You have to be careful with a Fisherman's Friend, though. I recall, and often do, the case of the man up for some outré piece of behaviour who developed the same bad cold as the judge. "Would it help if he sucked a Fisherman's Friend?", asked the judge. "No, thank you, m'lud," replied his counsel, "He's in quite enough trouble already." True, too.

Pull of the wheeled

Now where were we? Ah, yes, excitement. Have you thought about pulling a car with your teeth? Mrs Wang Xiaobei, 71, of Jinan, in China's Shandong province, has just pulled one 65 feet. Actually, this sort of thing is quite popular over there: you must remember Mr Zhang Xingquan, 38, of Dehui, in Jinlu province, who does it with his ears while walking on eggs.

No? Something a little less strenuous? Well, Mr Gilberto Cruz, 42, of Brazil, can manage an hour without blinking. Now he would make the ideal conference delegate. Anything else? Well, there's not long to go to Christmas, as I realised when I read about Mr Olavi Nikkanoff, Danish farmer and part-time Santa, whose reindeer, Rudolf, died of a heart attack when two F-16 fighter jets passed low over the farm. The Danish air force has paid Mr Nikkanoff £3,000 so he can get another one in time for Christmas, although how much use Rudolf would have been, up there, with a dicky ticker, on the big night, is questionable. But perhaps he thought that was how fast Santa was planning to go this year.

Reindeer rage

Funnily enough, or not, a reindeer has just attacked an elderly couple up in the wilds of Finnish Lapland. This is extremely rare, but I got a glimmer of an explanation when I saw that the woman had been on her mobile when the attack came. Way up there, probably talking to another mobile: that's asking for a deer charge.

But you're probably pre-occupied with whether a part-time Santa is a tautologous Santa. I don't often get the chance to mention this, but I once came across Santa Ricky Baldwin, "The Year Round Santa". He was at an international ventriloquists' convention in Las Vegas, partnering a penguin, as he hadn't had room to bring his reindeer. Was he good? They were all amazing, especially the Japanese chap drinking a glass of milk while his dummy sang "When You're Smiling". Ah, happy gays, glinding time.

Spot the difference

Reindeers and caribou; elk and moose; buffaloes and bison: you'll want to know the difference. Well, I've yet to come across a strawberry elk, you can't wash your hands in a buffalo, and caribou can't fly. Santa Ricky, by the way, lives on Bethel Road, Columbus, Ohio, when he's down.

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