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January 2010 - An Escaped Halibut

Given the amount of totally inaccurate publicity doing the rounds on the following matter, one could probably be excused for erroneously welcoming you all, dear viewers, to the first edition of Nick Harvey's Comment for the new decade.

However, as I seem to remember discussing with you all at great length, roughly ten years ago, I can find no record, whatsoever, of there ever being a year 0, which means that the first year must have had the number of 1.

A decade, the last time I checked my reference books, was defined as a period of ten years, which means that the first ever decade must have run from 1st January (or perhaps January 1st, just to upset Mr S of Wales) in the year 1 until 31st December in the year 10.

By a process of of moving forward from that first decade, we eventually come to the one in which I find myself putting fingers to keyboard for this current epic, that being the one which runs from 1st January 2001 up until 31st December 2010.

In a similar system to that which made the new millennium commence on 1st January 2001, the new decade will, therefore, commence on 1st January 2011 and not a moment sooner.  Don't let them tell you otherwise, madam.

I just thought I ought to clear that little matter up before we properly get under way this month, for fear of leaving persons in the third and fourth rows with any confusion on this matter.

One person definitely without confusion at this point will be Mr B of Portgordon.  It is he who deserves the bulk of the credit, a huge vote of thanks and is the main inspiration for my words of wisdom on this occasion; well, he and, to a much lesser extent, the then Miss K of America, but more of her a little later on.

Mr B's most recent contribution was to the decade and millennium debate, where he enquired about a start date for the new linoleum.  As I replied in another place, that was laid in March 1956, but was taken up again in October 1971 and replaced with some nice tiles, laid by a chap called Jacob.

Oh no, frowns from just above the beige cardigan, I see.  For the benefit of the humorously immune, we might be being subtle, Dickensian and seasonal here.  I'm in one of those funny moods, you see, so watch out world!

Right then, as I was about to say, just occasionally in this life, one is faced with something so totally out of place that the tears of laughter just keep rolling down the cheeks for hours, or even days.

Ronan O'Reilly is famous for seeing a picture of a young Caroline Kennedy playing under the desk of the Oval Office in the White House and causing chaos in the midst of the serious business of state.  It was that picture which gave him the name for his little radio station.

Mr B of Portgordon produced a similar image in sound recently, one which I don't think ever got onto the air, but which has had me chuckling every time I have thought about it since.

Imagine this terribly serious promotional item for a terribly serious television programme about terribly serious climate change and the terribly serious international conference about same.

In the midst of all this terrible seriousness, casually insert the line "Oh look, an escaped halibut" and you will, almost certainly, be rolling around on the floor as I have been doing over the last few days.

Oh, no, more beige cardigan trouble by the look of it.  I think that one swam vertically straight out of the water and went straight over her head.  My my, how sad, what a pity!

Now, escaped halibut(s) are probably quite a common sight on the coast of north-east Scotland, so nothing much to worry about there, but it just seemed incredibly amusing to me, sitting as I was at the time, in the depths of darkest Wiltshire.

I mean, it's not often I see halibut(s), in the singular, or in shoals, escaped, or free-range, casually passing my window as I record a serious promotional item, or even put fingers to keyboard for an edition of this load of old nonsense.

And why, while we're on the subject, doesn't anyone seem to be certain what the plural of halibut is, in any case?  All my reference works refer to the plural either being halibut or halibuts.  Nobody seems to know which is the more correct.

Actually, it's one of those strangely formed words which sounds as if its plural ought to be halibi, doesn't it?  That would be much better, wouldn't it?  Oh look, a shoal of escaped halibi passing by!

The last month seems to have seen a positive plethora of strangely formed words released on an unsuspecting public.  Though, perhaps that would more correctly be incorrectly formed words.

A certain major mobile telephone company, who I wouldn't dream of specifically naming, but isn't an apple, a banana, a pear or a cherry, managed to take the biscuit recently.

As part of their new advertising campaign they've proudly started to offer "pier to pier" communication.  I assume that can only mean that they suddenly intend to start building mobile telephone masts on the end of any metallic, man-made structure which sticks out into the sea by more than about twenty feet.

Okay, I suppose if you really need to have a chat from Brighton to Blackpool it's going to be a winner, but I can't see it being a lot of use for the majority of calls I would want to make.  I think I'll keep my business with the guys whose only mistake seems to be still thinking that you spell telephone with an "f".

I was also intending to make reference, this month, to a discussion, again started in another place, about whether it is rude to ask for tea in a coffee house.  I was intending to, but I really can't make up my mind whether I have sufficient time left to pop such a huge subject under the old, Acme microscope this month.

We seem to excel, in this country, at putting signs over doors which don't quite mean exactly what they say, don't we?  How many of us have been to a steak house and eaten fish, to a wine bar and drunk beer or to that coffee house and taken tea?

I think we've got such an enormous subject on our hands there, that it's probably best to leave it to a future Nick Harvey's Comment and then give it our undivided attention.

After all, there are still eleven more editions to go before the end of the decade, are there not?  The next of those eleven will either be on February 1st or 1st February, depending on which side of that big pond you are, so do please join me then.

Oh, by the way, just to confirm that nothing significant passed by my window during the writing of this month's epic.  And, purely because it seems the right thing to say at about this point in the proceedings, no halibi were injured during the making of this programme.  Right, I'm off, where's me fishing net?

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