The Bluffer's Guide to Football

Packed with football trivia

Your one-stop crib to football

The Bluffer's Guide to Football

Packed with football trivia

Buy The Bluffer's Guide to Football at Amazon

Revelations include the fact that the residents of Chester once celebrated victory over marauding Danes by playing football with the head of a defeated opponent. Rather annoyingly, when I wrote the book I didn't know the story of how Subbuteo got its name, or that would have gone straight in. (The inventor wanted to call it ‘Hobby', but was denied permission for a trademark because the word was too general - so he chose the second half of ‘falco subbuteo', the scientific name for the hobby bird.)

One thing the book does contain is an explanation not just of the offside rule (everyone knows that), but of how to explain the offside rule (nobody ever knows how to do that).

Others...

What Men Think About Sex

What Men Think About Sex

The race is on...

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The Catch

The Catch

One man, one woman, one problem ...

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The C Words

The C Words

Commitment, coupledom, children...

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The Bluffer's Guide to Bond

The Bluffer's Guide to Bond

Packed with Bond trivia

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The Importance of Being Trivial

The Importance of Being Trivial

The book that gave this site its name

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Walk The Lines

Walk The Lines

The London Underground Overground

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Move Along Please

Move Along Please

Land's End to John O'Groats by local bus

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Mail Obsession

Mail Obsession

A Journey Round Britain By Postcode

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Question Time

Question Time

A Journey Round Britain's Quizzes

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Content

Big Ben

On a visit to Big Ben, I was told that if you stand at the bottom of the tower with a portable radio and listen to the chimes on Radio 4 (they still transmit them live), you hear them on the radio before you hear them ‘for real’. I couldn’t believe it – but was intrigued enough to try it for myself. And you know what? It’s absolutely true. The bongs come out of the radio a fraction of a second before they reach your ears from the top of the tower. It’s something so silly, so counter-intuitive, that you have to tell people. (Well, I did.) Researching the explanation, I found that it’s because radio waves travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) rather than the 700 or so miles per hour at which sound waves travel. The signal travelling down the wire from the microphone to the BBC goes at the speed of light too. Hence the radio version overtaking the real one.

I realised that this would be the perfect way to teach the principle in school physics lessons. Instead of a boring teacher droning on that ‘radio waves travel at the speed of light’, illustrate it with this beautiful and quirky little fact. The kids will remember it then. I certainly would have done if my physics teacher had taken this approach. As it was I had to wait until I heard a piece of so-called ‘trivia’ in my thirties.