Lawrence White asks:

I recall Morrissey once telling Jonathan Ross that fish scream when they die. Is he aware that his favourite drink, Fanta, contains fish gelatin?

Probably not! Many vegetarians and vegans don’t know that soda drinks can contain fish gelatin – understandably, since by UK law this information does not need to be included on labels.

However, it’s not clear that Fanta does contain fish gelatin! The belief that Fanta in the UK is not suitable for vegetarians is founded primarily on a single letter from Coca Cola, sent to an investigating customer and disseminated widely online. Coca-Cola’s own FAQ, on the other hand, gives a list of products which have fish gelatin content – and Fanta is not included.

Lawrence White asks:

Would it not have been possible to shield us sensitive souls from the most squeamish part of this interview, namely Armitage slipping Morrissey a copy of his frankly appalling Scaremongers CD?

In theory, certainly! The Guardian could easily have edited the revelation out of the interview, or issued a warning to timid readers. However, it chose not to do this, perhaps because the interview was built so heavily around Armitage’s great admiration for Morrissey; the story was not focused so much on Morrissey himself, but on Armitage’s encounter with and response to a man he looked on as a hero. The ill-advised CD gift forms part of this narrative.

Kathleen O’Neill asks:

Arabella Weir says, “In the 60s… adults always ate separately, differently and inevitably better than kids”. No they didn’t. Perhaps her parents mistook their children for pets?

This is highly unlikely. Elsewhere in the story under discussion, Weir talks of her parents rolling their eyes when she ate “bad” food, and telling her to “push… away from the table” in order to deal with her chafing thighs. This would be unusual behaviour if they believed Weir to be a puppy or a hamster rather than a human child. Furthermore, Weir has spoken about her relationship with her parents elsewhere, and nothing in this discussion supports the idea that her parents might have mistaken her for a pet.

Adrienne Watson asks:

Loved the new-look All Ages, but where can I buy Ed Miliband’s tie?

Adrienne has mistaken an article on the would-be leaders of the Labour party for the Guardian’s regular “All Ages” fashion feature – understandably, since both feature a large photograph of five differently-dressed individuals of various ages standing casually. Unfortunately, because the article was not in fact a fashion piece, it’s probable that nobody thought to ask Ed Miliband about his tie; in addition, it may well be from a past season and no longer available. However, Adrienne might have more luck in writing to the Guardian Magazine’s “Ask the Experts” page, instead of the letters.

We haven’t been able to identify the tie ourselves, but perhaps Adrienne could try one of Austin Reed’s fuchsia ties, if she wants something resembling the online version of the picture; or this red tie from Paul Smith, if she would prefer a tie that more closely resembles the sombre version of the picture in the physical version of the Magazine.

Andy Healey asks:

I just can’t get over Konnie Huq being married to Charlie Brooker. How does she reconcile the traits she most deplores in others – closed-mindedness, judgmental bitchiness and jealousy – with his weekly acid outpourings? I guess he must be very good at not taking his work home with him.

It’s certainly true that Brooker is well-known for his invective. However, vehement though he frequently may be, he rarely comes across as close-minded or jealous; for example, he has written admiringly on several occasions about television shows which he expected to hate. It seems likely that Huq, though she deplores jealousy and close-mindedness, has no problem with bitterness or bile.

John Kelly asks:

Whatever terrible crime Alexis Petridis committed, his weekly humiliation where you make him look ridiculous on the fashion pages must surely have settled the debt by now?

John shows admirable sympathy, but it’s misplaced: Petridis is a paid fashion columnist for the Guardian, and wears these clothes not as punishment but as an important part of his work. If John fears that this “job” is merely a pretence and the Guardian is imposing its will on Petridis by force, he may take some comfort in knowing that Petridis has, in the past, declined to wear clothes that he considered unsuitable.

Brendan Kelly asks:

Over 10 weeks, men gave their blind dates an average of 8.6; women gave 7.9. Does this scientifically prove that boys like dates with girls more than girls like dates with boys?

Sadly, it doesn’t! For a start, there are many alternative explanations for a disparity in scores: perhaps men feel under more social pressure to give their dates a high score, regardless of their actual enjoyment; perhaps readers of the Guardian are not a representative sample of the population at large; perhaps the Guardian selects venues for its blind dates which men tend to enjoy more than women, and this is reflected in their enjoyment of the date as a whole.

However, even if these alternative explanations could be eliminated, John’s sample is not large enough to be conclusive. Our statistics expert tells us:

“The “one-sided” P-value on this is about 30%. Meaning there’s a 30% chance that [Group A] gets a 0.7 higher average purely by chance, with an unbiased sample.

Similarly, there’s a 30% chance that [Group B] gets 0.7 higher by chance.

Therefore, just from the fact that one group did get 0.7 higher, it would almost certainly be unwarranted to draw any conclusions about the draw being biased.

These figures are assuming the draw is of integers from 0-10 inclusive and are calculated using a simple Monte Carlo simulation in Excel.”

Of course, as our expert hurried to add, it’s more complicated than this. The fact that the scores are so high means it’s more likely that the difference is significant; and it’s certainly very possible that men enjoy blind dates more than women. We encourage John to gather more data and investigate more fully.

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