Happy Monday. And, to ensure that it is, I have some more past inspiration for you. Today is the 185th anniversary of the birth of Zenobe Gramme, the Belgian inventor, named 23rd in a poll of famous Belgians. If you're not impressed by that, let me tell you Django Reinhardt came in at 76. Apart from the dynamic Belgian, there's also the Roman emperor Caracalla, who would have been 1,823 today, perhaps the only world leader to have been assassinated while urinating at the roadside. But one man really captures the proper mood for a Monday: Muddy Waters, born today, 1911: "Well now, woke up this morning, all I had was gone. Well, brooks run into the ocean, the ocean runs into the sea. If I don't find my baby, somebody sure gonna bury me". Onwards and upwards!
Forgive me, but I do take pleasure in those embarrassments which occasionally attend the juggernaut that is Human Progress. And a rare one has just been revealed in Russia: whenYuri Gagarin returned from the first manned space flight in 1961, he landed 250 miles off course. Naturally, there was no one there to greet him, so he had to wander off to find a house with a phone. Marvellous. Can you imagine answering the door?
Everyone under 30, I note, is to be asked at regular intervals by the Government how they're getting on. The data gathered – schools, qualifications, salary, etc – will, it is alleged,be most helpful in improving "life chances" and social mobility. I trust they will also provide a few useful hints to help the process along: 1. Always use a handkerchief.2. Napkin, not serviette. 3. "What?",not "Pardon?" 4. "Pudding", not "Sweet". 5. Do you have a food mixer?6. Lie about your background.7. Join the Bullingdon.8. Prince Harry still unmarried? 9. Do you know Julian Fellowes? 10.Would you like to become a supporter of the Conservative Party? Simples.
If you're still in a ruminative mood, consider this: you're queueing up to buy your New York lottery ticket when someone jumps in front of you and buys the next ticket. Your ticket wins you and your syndicate $319m. Except, of course, for the member who was asked twice but decided he'd give it a miss this time. It's a lottery, isn't it?