Go and watch the film: Big Fish - then you'll understand why when I say my dad has a story about everything, you'll see why that's relevant. Anyway, my own Big Fish stories are below - things that are random, that I know of otherwise learn and find interesting.
My dad is one of those people who always had a story for everything, and if there wasn’t a story about it you could bet there would be something story side-adjacent to it. Growing up, I got used to it as I was sure my mum and brother did too, and the wackiness of the idea seemed to fade as it became more of a normal situation.
Now here we are, I’m thirty-two years old, and my partner tells me that I have a story for everything. It’s a compliment really, and sure fire proof that nature and nurture combined, causes the apple to stay pretty close to the tree.
Well in honour of my dad’s facts, stories and titbits, here’s a few to get you started.
• Yak’s milk is pink. The story behind this is that it’s actually tinted with blood right after a yak has given birth. It’s called beastings and has a high protein content.
• I wouldn’t drink water if I were you, fish have pee’d in it.
• If it’s universally accepted that matter can’t be created nor destroyed, it’s entirely possible that the water you drink has passed through dinosaurs.
• “Let’s get this mother out of here,” were the last words spoken by Gene Cernan of Apollo 17 as their little spaceship left the lunar surface.
Now seeing as we’re talking about ships why not start with the Titanic. Here’s a fun fact; my dad was actually named after a boat, and born on D-day (only a few years later) – so I think it’s a great jumping-off point.
Tedious link of facts; number one
We all know the titanic was the ship that set sail with too few lifeboats, hit an iceberg and sank (fun fact, lemons float, limes sink). Then the old lady threw the jewel into the ocean, someone was drawn nude and Leonardo Di Caprio was somehow involved, right? But did you know;
Imagine if you would for one moment that you are manning the crow's nest on top of the titanic as she sailed, you see an iceberg at the very last minute but sadly it’s too late to stop or even turn effectively. How you’d have given your right arm for a set of binoculars, right? Well there was a set on board, locked in a cupboard, because the guy who was reassigned to another ship at the last minute – David Blair – forgot that he had the key in his pocket the whole time. Lookout Fred Fleet actually survived the disaster and said that the binoculars wouldn’t e given the ship enough time to avoid the disaster. Take-home lesson: always know where you put your keys.
The lookout locker key and a note were sold at auction in 2007 for $145,000 to a Chinese bidder.
The titanic had a sister ship, called the Britannic. This one was altered to make it iceberg-proof after the titanic disaster, but after being requisitioned as a hospital ship in World War One, an explosion damaged the vessel. It might have made it out alive, though some of the nurses had opened portholes to air out the sick wards, and water poured in and inevitably the Britannic sank. In 1976, Jacques Cousteau found it on the seabed and it was theorised the Britannic had hit a mine.
Ok so we’re talking about water now so it’s a nice Segway into some facts about that. We already know about the fish pee and the dinosaurs, but did you know that the hot and cold taps are always set on the left and right respectively. I always thought that this was to help the disabled and elderly – which it is in the US, but interestingly there’s another reason. When taps were first put into use, there was only cold running water, and as the majority of people are right handed, the single cold tap was placed on the right. Add in hot taps when they came along and they go on the left.
Did someone say toilets? This tedious link thing is a really useful way to get where I’m going, wouldn’t you agree? In 1596, sir John Harrington described the first flushing toilet. Sir John Harrington is an ancestor of game of thrones star kit Harrington (John snow). We can either call the toilet ‘the John’ presumably after the inventor himself, or the ‘crapper’ after Thomas crapper and co, the company that predominantly manufactured the flushable toilet.
Now I bet you’re wondering what the next tedious link is going to be aren’t you, will I move into game of thrones, actors, Roman toilets and bath houses? The 1500’s? Well no. Next up is waste. And I don’t mean that you should think it’s a rubbish section, more that it’s actually about waste.
Recycling is such a huge pet of everyday life now, that you wouldn’t believe the lengths that some companies will go to to meet or exceed their ‘green criteria.’ Now this one is purely anecdotal, but when visiting an iron foundry last year I learned a few interesting things about the process behind getting the metal and casting it. The most interesting fact was that the company in question was actually digging up old landfill sites so that they could melt and reuse any of the metals that had been discarded and forgotten about. Now I don’t want to name any names here, but the company name had a ‘Thomas’ in it.