Sunday, 11 December 2016

How thick is your paper?

There was a quote I once heard attributed to one of the Mitford sisters. I have been unable to find its precise wording, nor determine which Mitford sister was supposed to have said it but it goes something like this:

'It is a lamentable thing when, in a household, the toilet paper is thicker than the writing paper.'

(Whichever sister it was clearly did not foresee the digital revolution.)

Without being reminded of this, I discussed a similar thought with a colleague not long ago. I wondered how much money our students spent on books for their courses each year compared with the amount they spent on tattoos. We concluded that more was likely to be spent on tattoos. There's an irony here. University courses are meant to help with one's future career prospects and yet students seem to be diverting money from that activity to something that is endangering those prospects as a number of articles have recently suggested.

(Mitford Sisters) Corollary: It can be an infuriating game to try to name all of the Mitford sisters. I remember a cartoon from The Guardian newspaper many years showing a man in bed unable to sleep and saying to his partner, 'What was the name of the fourth Mitford sister'. There is always one (or perhaps two) that you can't remember - if you can remember how many there were in the first place. (Of course, this begs the question, Why try to remember them now, anyway?)