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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Linking to this post in Monday's mutterings reminded me that I'd somehow omitted the most important piece of information from my account of our trip to London. I forgot to say that whilst travelling south on the Jubilee line, we stopped at St John's Wood tube station. Not an exciting revelation in itself, it's true, but whilst there, the person sitting next to me leaned across to the person sitting next to him, and said:

"Did you know that St John's Wood is the only station on the London Underground which contains none of the letters of the word 'mackerel'?"

His companion didn't. Neither did I. I asked Lisa why we never have such interesting conversations on public transport. She didn't reply.

Anyway, four weeks later, I've finally got around to verifying this piece of information on the internet. It led me to the St John's Wood Tube Station page on Wikipedia (because obviously there is one) which, in the tradition of all great encyclopaedias, includes the following scholarly facts:

"In recent years, the station has achieved a small amount of notoriety due to it being the only London Underground station that has no letters in common with the word 'mackerel', a fact that has frequently appeared in quizzes since the fact was publicised, for example, in "This Book", a trivia compendium. The word 'mackerel' is by no means unique in this feat, however, as several hundred words ('algebra', 'blackberry', 'paperclip'...) satisfy the same property of having letters in common with all stations except St John's Wood.

Furthermore, St John's Wood is not unique in being able to satisfy such a restriction, and there are at least 84 stations for which words exist that have no letters in common with exactly one station (for example 'wavelength' and Oxford Circus; 'photocopying' and Russell Square).

There are a number of stations which do not share letters with other stations. In fact, there are 61 stations which have just one station with which they do not share any letters, such as Barbican (only Temple does not share letters) and Liverpool Street (only Bank does not share letters).

The station does contain the second rarest letter on the London Underground - 'J'. Only St John's Wood, St James's Park and Willesden Junction contain the letter 'J'. The rarest letter is 'Z' which is only found in Belsize Park."

Someone, somewhere, has far too much time on their hands. And personally I'm not convinced that 'paperclip' is all one word. But I will be mentioning photocopying next time I'm at Russell Square.

Chip off the old block.Anyhoo, after a ten week tour of duty on the front line of the war on drugs (although to be honest it's more of a peace-keeping role), I've got my first day off work tomorrow. Not only is it mine and Lisa's four-year anniversary, but we're also heading off to hospital (so it's a busman's holiday for me) to check on the progress of the mite on the right. We're now nearer birth than conception, so it's time to measure the baby's waistline and find out if it takes after its Dad. By this time tomorrow you'll know whether to start knitting in pink or blue.