Unbelievable Truth: Aeroplanes

This is a short lecture that is entirely false save for five pieces of true information which are cunningly concealed amongst the lies. Today’s subject is aeroplanes, heavier than air flying vehicles with fixed wings which are usually powered by propellers or jet engines.

Since the dawn of time, man has gazed up in the sky and dreamt of what it must be like to sit in it somehow eating Mini Pretzels and half-watching Paul Blart Mall Cop. Well, today we can answer that question in two simple words: aero planes.

Aeroplanes have existed in the wild, of course, ever since pterodactyls. But the first man-made aeroplane was built by a pair of simple Ohio biscuit salesmen, Wilbur and Orville Wright. The Wright brothers were, as I say, pigeon farmers by trade and it was watching these majestic creatures take flight that inspired Orville to turn to his brother one morning and say:

“Wilbur, I wish I could fly! Right up to the sky! But I can’t.”
A curious light came into Wilbur’s eye as he replied:
“Orville, you can!”
“I can’t!”
“You can!”

And so, financed entirely by their day job which, you remember, was running a bike shop, they set to work designing an aeroplane.

So they set to work designing an aeroplane. Tensions ran high. As Orville was keen to build an ‘F-16’ fighter whilst Wilbur had his heart set on the ‘Boeing-747’. When such arguments arose the brothers would deliberately swap sides midway and argue the other’s point of view. At first, Orville thought this was a stupid idea but then Wilbur made them swap sides and after that Orville convinced Wilbur it was a good idea, so they did it.

Aviatress Lilian Bland built the first aeroplane in Northern Ireland using a whiskey bottle as a petrol tank and her aunt’s ear trumpet to feed it. It had the engines of a lawn mower, the wheels of a pram and the wings of an albatross. Earning her a lifetime ban from Belfast bird sanctuary.

And she called her aeroplane the ‘Mayfly’ as in ‘it may fly or it may not’. In 1929 Elsworth W. Bunce became the first man to walk along the wing of a plane in flight. In 1930 he became the first man to milk a cow on a plane. And in 1931 he became the first man to realize that no matter what wacky things he did on planes his parents would still prefer his brother.

Since then aeroplanes have been designed in every imaginable shape and size. For instance, the Lockheed McDonnell 3-12, which had both wings on the same side of the fuselage and was consequently very good at turning right but very bad at not turning right. Then there was a Caproni Ca.60 which had nine wings and eight engines and contained a cocktail bar, a swimming pool, a racecourse and an aerodrome.

See other: Unbelievable Truth Posts

PS Consult the comment section to find out the truths.

Unbelievable Truth: Octopus

This is a short lecture that is entirely false save for five pieces of true information which are cunningly concealed amongst the lies. Today’s subject is the octopus, described by our encyclopaedia as a carnivorous marine mollusc known for its eight long tentacles, rounded soft body and ink.

Let’s start with the basics. The correct plural of octopus is in fact octopodes, as in the Byron poem:

Whilst swimming off the coast of Rhodes
I spied a shoal of octopodes

As for octopi, well, the octopi is the name of the best selling snack at the Athens branch of Greggs.

The male adult octopus is very closely related to the male adult human in that its testicles are located in its head. In fact, the octopus is also one of the most dangerous creatures in the sea. If coral reefs had shopping centers the octopus would be hanging out outside them wearing hoodies and shouting insults at the passing plankton.

The octopus loves nothing more than a fight. Using tiny coconut shells as armour and breaking off the stings of Portuguese man o’war to use as makeshift knives. If you ever mess with an octopus you are likely to wake up with a seahorse’s head in your bed.

Shelley famously wrote:

Fishes, lizards, frogs and toads
are terrified of octopodes

In fact, the octopus actually has many useful skills: for example its secretions are more effective than household bleach at cleaning kitchens and bathrooms, an octopus can also undo the lid of the screw-top jar though in my defence I think I loosened it first.

Perhaps the crowning skill of the octopus however is how it responses to fear. If an octopus is threatened by, say, a shark with a gun or dinner party where it doesn’t want to go to, it does a very neat trick. The octopus has been known to actually eat itself. As Tennyson wrote:

As trouble brews and terror bodes
They self-ingest, the octopodes

See other: Unbelievable Truth Posts

PS Consult the comment section to find out the truths.

To Tell The Truth

Frasier: Dad, we are talking about perjury! When is that ever acceptable?

Martin: Oh, you want an example? Fine! Let’s say, uh, what if there was a comet hurtling towards the earth—

Frasier: Oh, for God’s sake!

Martin: And you were the only person who could save the earth, but the only way to do it is by lying under oath. Would you do it then?

Frasier: Who am I lying to, the comet?

Martin: Oh, just answer the question!

Frasier: All right, I suppose in certain extreme cases—

Martin: So, then you’d lie?

Frasier: To save mankind from a talking comet, yes!

Martin: But you won’t lie for Niles.

Frasier: Oh, for God’s sake, you make me sound like some sort of insensitive lout who’s not aware that his brother’s out there in pain!

[Frasier takes a sip from the glass]

Martin: Isn’t that Niles’s water?

Frasier: I’m just checking to see it’s not too cold!


Frasier: You know, I can’t believe you’re being so casual about this! Do you realize you’re asking me to do something completely unethical?!

Martin: Oh, for God’s sake, nobody’s even going to know!

Frasier: Yes, but that’s the point! Ethics are what we do when no one else is looking! For heaven’s sake, I learned that from you! Are you saying you wouldn’t have any trouble with this?


Martin: Let me tell you something. One time when I was on the force, I saw a guy shoot somebody. When we caught him, I started to read him his rights, but he slipped out of his cuffs and he swung at me so I didn’t get a chance to finish. Two months later, I’m on the stand, and his lawyer asks me if I’d read his rights in full. Now, if I say no this guy walks, and this guy has been in and out of jail all his life, he could have read ME his rights! So I say, “yes, I did. I read them in full.” I lied under oath. Now you might think that I did an unethical thing but there’s not a doubt in my mind that I did the right thing.

 – Rob Hanning: Frasier (1993-2004)

How Lose Embarrassing Records

‘He handed me the file. Inside was a sheet of paper which read as follows:

‘This file contains the complete set of papers, except for:

(a) a number of secret documents
(b) a few others which are part of still active files
(c) some correspondence lost in the floods of 1967
(d) some records which went astray in the move to London
(e) other records which went astray when the War Office was incorporated into the Ministry of Defence
(f) the normal withdrawal of papers whose publication could give grounds for an action for libel or breach of confidence or cause embarrassment to friendly governments.’

[1967 was, in one sense, a very bad winter. From the Civil Service point of view it was a very good one. All sorts of embarrassing records were lost – Ed.]

– Lynn J., Jay A. 1981. The Complete Yes Minister London, Great Britain: BBC Books (1991) p. 513