Who can answer those burning dinosaur questions?

Click to follow
The Independent Online
QUESTION: Were dinosaurs ticklish?

Answer: I'm sorry?

Q: Were dinosaurs ticklish?

A: I have no idea.

Q: Oh, isn't that the dinosaur problem corner?

Q: What's that?

A: Well, it's where you call in or write in and ask experts to answer your dinosaur problems, like, could they jump very well? or did they see in colour?

A: Or were they ticklish?

Q: Yes.

A: No.

Q: No, what?

A: No, thank you.

Q: No, thank you what?

A: No, thank you, this is not the dinosaur problem corner. In any case, dinosaurs have no problems. They are extinct. They have all passed on to the place where there are no dinosaur problems.

Q: Where is that?

A: I have no idea. I am speaking figuratively.

Q: So you don't think there is a life after death for dinosaurs?

A: I have no idea. Presumably, if you are a Buddhist, you think that dinosaurs can be reincarnated. I do not know what the Christian position on dinosaurs and their souls is.

Q: Did dinosaurs have souls?

A: Look, for the last time this is not a dinosaur problem corner.

Q: Well, is it the problem corner?

A: What problem corner?

Q: The problem corner that every paper has nowadays, when people write in with queries that have bothered them for years. Like, why is the Financial Times printed on pink paper? And, what was Stewart Granger's real name?

A: Oh, that problem corner.

Q: Yes.

A: No.

Q: No, what?

A: No, I am not the bloody problem corner.

Q: Well, where is the bloody problem corner?

A: I don't bloody well know. This is all part of the modern mania for useless information. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Q: What modern mania for useless information?

A: Oh, for heaven's sake, you know - the one that produced Mastermind, and Brain of Britain, and all those terrible pub quiz matches, and Trivial Pursuit games. This terrible urge to turn yourself into a memory bank . . .

Q: Wasn't it always like this?

A: Certainly not. In the old days, people were never tempted to acquire useless information. They left it to Leslie Welch.

Q: Who was Leslie Welch?

A: Lord love a duck. Leslie Welch was the Memory Man. He used to to go on stage or TV and challenge people to ask him questions. He had memorised all useless data, you see, so he could remember the colour of the shirt worn by the FA Cup Winners in 1936, and so on. Then there was 'Ripley's Believe It or Not' . . .

Q: Who was Ripley?

A: An American who collected astounding facts. He was only interested in Cup Finals if the two teams played naked, or if the match ended 14-14, that sort of thing. In those days the performers knew all the answers and the audience asked the questions. What has happened now is that the audience has taken over the memory man's role. The public now insist on memorising all that rubbish themselves. The only good thing that has come out of all this is the Fortean Times.

Q: What's that?

A: It's a magazine that reports unexplained information from all round the world.

Q: Does it explain them?

A: No, it just reports the mystery.

Q: You mean, they bring you the questions but not the answers?

A: Yes.

Q: Gosh. That's more advanced than Trivial Pursuit, isn't it?

A: Anything is more advanced than Trivial Pursuit.

Q: So you're not the problem solver?

A: No.

Q: Sorry.

A: Sorry what?

Q: Sorry to have bothered you.

A: Not at all. Incidentally, what was Stewart Granger's real name?

Q: James Stewart.

A: So he had to change his name because there already was . . .

Q: Yes.

A: Ah, by the way, has it ever occurred to you that dinosaurs may have died out when they started asking each other trivial questions?

Q: No.

A: Fair enough.

Q: Is that it?

A: Yes.