numbers the anaesthetist

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Today is the 19th of October.

The 19th day of a month was considered unlucky in ancient Babylonia because it fell 49 days after the beginning of the previous month, and 49 is 7 times 7, and who knows what evil that might lead to.

Nineteen is a sacred number in the Baha'i faith, which divides the year into 19 months of 19 days.

Nineteen is also the traditional number of guardians of hell.

More scientifically, 19 is the number of years in the Metonic cycle, after which all the phases of the moon recur on the same day of the month.

Back on earth, 19 is:

The number of acres of pizza eaten daily in the US;

The gestation period in days of a laboratory mouse;

The average weight, in grams, of a Chinese man's testicle;

The number of cheeses, according to Aristotle's History of Animals, that can be obtained from nine gallons of goat's milk;

The percentage of the world's goats in India.

"Nineteen" is a word used only three times in all the plays of Shakespeare, making it his least favourite low number.


More "26 L of the A" (Letters of the Alphabet) teasers, with three Chambers Dictionary prizes to the first correct answers opened on 31 Oct.

6 F of a C

6 B in an O

7 S on a T P C

7 U

8 W P in a C S

Entries to: Pastimes, the Independent, 1 Canada Sq, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

5 October answers: Rottweiler (lower trite); Dalmatian (Matilda an); Spaniel (asp line). Winners: R Caley, R Hine, PW Marlow.