Victoria Green asks:

Can we have Shappi Khorsandi’s brother in his pants in every issue?

It would be possible for the Weekend to create a special slot for pictures of people in their underpants, an equivalent of the Sun’s Page 3 girl; but it doesn’t fit with the general tenor of the magazine, and it’s an unlikely direction for the editorial team to take. Unfortunately for Victoria, even if they do branch out to regular pants pics, they’re more likely to vary the pants-wearer from issue to issue (as The Sun does) than to stick resolutely to Khorsandi’s brother.

Jill Harrison asks:

“The other day a friend said, ‘Jimmy looks like he’s got Aids but forgot to tell his face.'” Nice friends Jimmy Carr has. Oh, silly me, it was a joke. Was it? Better ask Frankie Boyle or Jim Davidson. Or someone with Aids perhaps.

It was indeed a joke. Jill’s confusion may be a result of the erroneous assumption that a joke must be funny. Certainly most jokes are intended to be funny, but actual funniness is by no means universal to the form – just as not all meals, for example, are delicious.

Geoff Wicks asks:

Why is it always actors who have the earliest memories (Q&A)? I have often wondered who would be the first to remember being in the womb. Gillian Anderson (5 March) came very near to saying so. What next? Remembering being a sperm going for a swim?

Before answering Geoff’s question, we thought we’d better check whether his observation was correct. We went through every Q&A published in the past year, and noted down the age of every earliest memory given, wherever this could be ascertained – either because it was stated directly, or because it could be deduced. (For example, David Miliband’s earliest memory was of the birth of his brother, and therefore his age at the time was readily calculable). In cases where the age was given as, for example, “2 or 3” or “not yet 3”, we went with 2.5.

We found that the earliest memories of the interviewed actors came at ages 1, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 7 (with a mean of  3.5).
The earliest memories of musicians came at ages 1, 2, 3.5, 4 and 4 (mean 2.9).
The earliest memories of television presenters came at ages 2.5, 2.5 and 3 (mean: 2.67).
The earliest memories of editors and writers came at ages 2 and 2 (mean: 2).
And the earliest memories of politicians came at ages 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 5 (mean: 3).

The evidence is clear. Actors do not in fact consistently claim to have earlier first memories than non-actors; and in fact the mean age of earliest memory is higher among the interviewed actors than among any other group. Even Gillian Anderson’s memory aged 1 is not unprecedented.

In answer to Geoff’s questions, then, we can’t say whether anyone will claim to remember being a sperm – but we can say that if someone does, it is not particularly likely to be an actor.

Sara Hayward asks:

I had only to glance at the photograph for Clare Price and Struan Robertson’s Blind Date (5 March) to know that the scores would be high and that they’d meet again. How? They looked like each other, and great matches often do.

Thanks to Sara for answering her own rhetorical question with such clarity.

Valerie Farnell asks:

Scallops are going down (The Measure, 5 March)? Never!

There’s no need to fret! The Measure often declares that things are going “up” or “down”, but it’s not the result of peer-reviewed research or even an exhaustive survey – indeed, often it seems to be little more than whim. Take a look, for example, at this Measure from October 2008: going up we have tedddy bears, and going down we have macaroons and Emma Watson. With the hindsight granted us by our viewpoint in 2011, we know that haters of teddy bears, like admirers of macaroons or Watson, had nothing to fear.

Alistair Ross:

Dear God, if they’re all female, they’re not old enough; if they’re all old, they’re not black enough; if they’re all black, they’re not gay enough (Readers’ Letters). Will you lot ever stop whingeing?

Their Questions Answered has been answering Readers’ Letters since August 2010, and we therefore feel particularly well qualified to answer this question. The answer is no.

Victoria Green asks:
Can we have Shappi Khorsandi’s brother in his pants in every issue? 

It would be possible for the Weekend to create a special slot for pictures of people in their underpants, an equivalent of the Sun’s Page 3 girl; but it doesn’t fit with the general tenor of the magazine, and it’s an unlikely direction for the editorial team to take. Unfortunately for Victoria, even if they do, they’re more likely (like the Sun) to vary the pants-wearer from issue to issue, rather than sticking resolutely to Khorsandi’s brother.

Jill Harrison asks:
“The other day a friend said, ‘Jimmy looks like he’s got Aids but forgot to tell his face.'” Nice friends Jimmy Carr has. Oh, silly me, it was a joke. Was it? Better ask Frankie Boyle or Jim Davidson. Or someone with Aids perhaps.

It was indeed a joke. Jill’s confusion arises from her apparent assumption that a joke must be funny. Certainly most jokes are intended to be funny, but it’s by no means a necessity – just as not all meals, for example, are delicious.

Geoff Wicks asks:
Why is it always actors who have the earlist memories (Q&A)? I have often wondered who would be the first to remember being in the womb. Gillian Anderson (5 March) came very near to saying so. What next? Remembering being a sperm going for a swim?

actor 1, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 7   mean: 3.5
musician 1, 2, 3.5, 4, 4,    mean: 2.9
tv presenter 2.5, 2.5, 3   mean: 2.67
editor/writer 2, 2 mean: 2
Politician: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5   mean: 3

Before answering Geoff’s question, we thought we’d better check whether his observation was correct, so we went through the last year’s worth of Q&As and noted down the age of every earliest memory, where this could be ascertained, either because it was directly stated or could be deduced (for example, David Miliband’s earliest memory was of the birth of his brother, and therefore his age at the time was readily calculable). In cases where “2 or 3” or “not yet 2” were stated, we went with 2.5.

We found that the earliest memories of the interviewed ACTORS came at ages 1, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 7 (mean: 3.5).
The earliest memories of MUSICIANS came at ages 1, 2, 3.5, 4 and 4 (mean 2.9).
The earliest memories of TV PRESENTERS came at ages 2.5, 2.5 and 3 (mean: 2.67).
The earliest memories of EDITORS AND WRITERS came at ages 2 and 2 (mean: 2).
And the earliest memories of POLITICIANS came at ages 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 5 (mean: 3).

The evidence is clear: actors do not in fact consistently claim to have earlier first memories than non-actors; and in fact the mean age of earliest memory is higher among the interviewed actors than among any other group. Even Gillian Anderson’s memory aged 1 is not unprecedented.

In answer to the question, then, we can’t say whether anyone will claim to remember being a sperm (though obviously it is physiologically impossible for this to be the case, whereas it is at least possible to remember something that happened to you aged 1). If they do, however, it is not particularly likely to be an actor.

Sara Hayward asks:
I had only to glance at the photograph for Clare Price and Struan Robertson’s Blind Date (5 March) to know that the scores would be high and that they’d meet again. How? They looked like each other, and great matches often do.

Thanks to Sara for answering her own rhetorical question with such clarity.

Valerie Farnell asks:
Scallops are going down (The Measure, 5 March)? Never!

There’s no need to fret! The Measure often declares that things are going “up” or “down”, but it’s not the result of an exhaustive survey – indeed, often it seems to be little more than whim.

Alistair Ross:
Dear God, if they’re all female, they’re not old enough; if they’re all old, they’re not black enough; if they’re all black, they’re not gay enough (Readers’ Letters). Will you lot ever stop whingeing?

We have been answering Readers’ Letters since [date] 2010, and therefore feel uniquely qualified to answer this question. The answer is no.

Advertisements