Charles Nevin: Mr Osborne would make a fine statue

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The Independent Online

Happy Monday. Have you come far? I mention it because today, 606 years and 235 years ago respectively, both the great Chinese admiral, Zheng He, and the heroic British navigator, Captain James Cook, set out on epic journeys of world discovery. By a remarkable coincidence, this is also the very day Waterloo Station opened 163 years ago. Items of lost property handed in there over the years have included a human brain, a jar of bull's sperm, a stuffed eagle, a grandfather clock, a canoe, a deep fat fryer and a kitchen sink, but not a double bed. That was on the Northern Line. Ah, the excitement of travel!

Worrying news, though, for the traveller approaching London from Europe: there are doubts about the erection of the celebratory 50m-high giant white horse near Ebbsfleet: unbridled costs, apparently (£12m). There must be more affordable ways of symbolising Britain. How about: 1. A giant tea towel, featuring that happy young royal couple and a view of Windsor Castle. 2. An appropriately modest statue of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, stripped to his waistcoat, with rolled shirtsleeves, neckerchief and pick, bearing the legend, "We Are All In This Together!" 3. A pickled banker. 4. An Agincourt longbowman holding up, in legendary fashion, two fingers. 5. The Arch of the Unknown Health And Safety Officer, topped with bronze banana skin.

To get you up to speed for the coming week, here is my exclusive round-up of recent research: 1. Norwegians are eating more fish. 2. Children get bored during the holidays. 3. Eight out of ten bears prefer the woods. 4. Unauthorised access to mobile phone messages can cause trouble. 5. In general, according to Korean researchers, the lower the ratio of the lengths of the index and ring fingers on a man's right hand, the longer his penis.

Finally, inspiring quotes from two of the week's leading anniversarialists. First, Whistler (born yesterday, 1834), on being told there were "only two painters in the world, yourself and Velázquez": "Why drag Velázquez into it?"; and Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, the great suffragette (born Friday, 1858): "Trust in God. She will provide". Happy Monday.