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Vitamin Q: the book!

~ Friday, July 30, 2004

Inevitably, two of VitQ’s interests, food and the letter Q, would eventually collide:

qater - a sugar syrup used in Middle-Eastern cuisine
qawwrama - a dish of spiced, preserved lamb
qorma - mutton dish flavoured with cardamoms
qouzi - Middle-Eastern stuffed lamb dish
quail’s eggs with minced fish - Chinese rissole dish (yu rong chun dan)
quandong - peach-like fruit from Australian tree of the same name
Quargel - Austrian sour-milk cheese
quarrender - a variety of apple
quasi - a rump-cut of veal
queen of puddings - jam and meringue dessert
Queen of Sheba salad - tomato and onion salad with a fiery dressing
queenie - a type of scallop
quelite - an Aztec word which is used in Mexico for various green herbs
quenelle - thin dumpling made with minced meat or fish
quesadilla - toasted tortilla filled with cheese and other ingredients
queso fundido - a Mexican version of fondue
quesong puti - a Filipino cheese made of buffalo milk, salt and vinegar
quetsch - a type of plum
quiche - eggy flan which ‘real men don’t eat’
quiddany - a jelly dessert flavoured with quinces
quignon - a large slice of French bread
quillet - a buttercream-filled French sweetmeat
quince - sharp-tasting fruit
quince cheese - solidified jam sliced and served with cold meat
quinoa - rice-like grain used in South American cooking
Quin’s ketchup - bygone walnut and anchovy flavoured condiment
quintal - a kind of cabbage

I have excluded brand names eg Quorn, Quavers, Quosh…

Source: various
~ Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Some of the more unusual titles published by Shire Books, an excellent UK publisher specialising in hobbies, history, travel, nature and other non-fiction:

The Algonquin Birchbark Canoe
Ants of Great Britain
Ayrshire and Other Whitework
The Bean
Betel Chewing Equipment of East New Guinea
Biscuit Tins
British Tea and Coffee Cups
Brochs of Scotland
Ceramic Water Closets
Charcoal and Charcoal Burning
Church Misericords and Bench Ends
Dairying Bygones
Deserted Villages
Discovering English Folk Dance
Duck Decoys
The Ford Cortina
Gothick Cornwall
Land Snails of the British Isles
Old Farm Dogs
The Organ
Parish Boundaries
Polynesian Backcloth
Road Rollers
Scottish Doocots
Sentimental Jewellery
Thimbles and Thimble Cases
Umbellifers of the British Isles
The Victorian Ironmonger
Wrought Iron


Some UK celebrities who were guest stars on the Muppet Show:

1 Lynn Redgrave
2 Cleo Laine
3 Elton John
4 Peter Ustinov
5 Julie Andrews
6 Twiggy
7 Roger Moore
8 John Cleese
9 Peter Sellers
10 Bruce Forsyth
11 Petula Clark
12 Leo Sayer
13 Spike Milligan
14 Dudley Moore
15 Glenda Jackson
16 Shirley Bassey

…and some music business names who were also Muppet guest stars:

1 Lou Rawls
2 Gladys Knight
3 Debbie Harry
4 Paul Simon
5 Judy Collins
6 Johnny Cash
7 Joan Baez
8 Alice Cooper
9 Helen Reddy
10 Loretta Lynn
11 John Denver
12 Kris Kristofferson
13 Arlo Guthrie
14 Anne Murray
15 Linda Ronstadt
16 Diana Ross

~ Thursday, July 22, 2004
Songs and tunes whose titles are single letters (‘A’, ‘B’ etc):

A - The Associates
B - Sunscreem
C - Coldcut
D - Codeine
E - Chris Rea
F - Young Gods
G - Labradford
H - The Lost Soul Band
I - Public Enemy
J - Cecil Taylor
K - Pylon
L - Man
M - The Cure
N - Fischerspooner
O - Echobelly
P - Prince
Q - The Brothers Johnson
R - Prince Raheim
S - Supersoul
T - Ethos
U - Pearl Jam
V - Sonic Youth
W - Van der Graaf Generator
X - Chet Baker
Y - Art Fuller
Z - Madder Rose


57 intriguingly titled academic journals:

Agricultural Wastes / Anaerobe / Annales d'Urologie / Blood Reviews / The Breast / Card Technology Today / Ceramics International / Cladistics / Communist Affairs / Dental Materials / Desalination / Disease-a-Month / Emotion / Endeavour / Fibrinolysis and Proteolysis / Fish & Shellfish Immunology / Focus on Surfactants / The Foot / Fuzzy Sets and Systems / Harmful Algae / Injury Extra / International Journal of Fatigue / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping / Joint Bone Spine / Journal of Arid Environments / Journal of Luminescence / The Journal of Supercritical Fluids / Journal of the Less Common Metals / The Leadership Quarterly / The Lichenologist / Maturitas / Meat Science / Non-Destructive Testing / Nurse Leader / Opportunistic Pathogens / Placenta / Powder Technology / Pump Industry Analyst / Reactivity of Solids / Reinforced Plastics / Reliability Engineering / Remote Sensing of Environment / Sealing Technology / Sleep Medicine / Small Ruminant Research / Soil and Tillage Research / Thin Solid Films / Toxicon / Trends in Parasitology / Tubercle / Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology / Urban Water / Vacuum / Vibrational Spectroscopy / Wear / World Pumps / Zeolites

Source:; thanks to N


Some Don'ts from Animals as Friends and How to Keep Them (by Shaw & Fisher, Dent 1939)

Don't keep a hedgehog in the house.
Don't keep bats unless you can fulfil the items under Cost.
Don't let your mongoose get cold or dirty, or it will die.
Don't try to tame an old fox.
Don't let your fox think you are afraid of it.
Don't keep an otter unless you can afford to give it three pounds of fish a day.
Don't let an otter sleep in a damp hutch.
Don't let polecats escape.
Don't tease badgers, because they have extremely powerful jaws and will give you a bite you won't forget quickly.
Don't keep chipmunks (or chipping squirrels) in a small cage.
Don't pick a dormouse up by the tail or the skin of the tail may come off.
Don't overfeed hamsters, as they store food, and it may go bad.
Don't wear out your female rats by over-breeding. It will only exhaust them.
Don't let your mice get cold.
Don't feed guinea pigs on limp lettuces.
Don't coddle your rabbits - most breeds are hardy.
Don't forget your Angoras like combing.
Don't try to keep any adult deer except a roe doe as a pet.
Don't overcrowd deer.
Don't slit the tongues of crows thinking it will help them talk. This is on a par with burning witches and should be out of date.
Don't leave money, keys or valuable papers around if you have tame crows.
Don't buy a budgerigar which is said to be moulting.
Don't give an owl decayed food.
Don't use nesting pans for doves; open cigar boxes will do very well for them.
Don't keep your terrapins in a dark place.
Don't buy a tortoise unless you have a garden.
Don't forget that you can't cure a sick lizard.
Don't buy a lizard which drops or waggles its head when gently shaken.
Don't believe the old superstition that salamanders like heat or fire.
Don't overcrowd salamanders or they will develop fungus.
Don't keep axolotls with fish or newts.
Don't keep an active little frog in a small box.
Don't buy sick fish.
Don't keep silkworms at all unless you mean to give them lots of attention.
Don't bathe your cat in water. It is quite capable of keeping itself clean.
Don't be surprised if your monkey destroys things outside its cage or becomes spiteful and even dangerous with age. 


...a blog run by London-based poet and puzzle-writer Roddy Lumsden. It is a place where I post lists, trivia and curiosities sourced from many places or conjured by the maze-like minds of myself and my eager cohort of trivia lovers. The subject matter is Everything and More, but the lists tend to reflect my interests which include unusual language, nature, pop music and food.

The archive to the left contains the equivalent of a 500 page book - feel free to browse. Over the summer, VitQ will be undergoing a subtle but vital overhaul, as I make corrections to many lists which were spotted in the editing process of the book version. This book - Vitamin Q - a temple of trivia lists and curious words - will be published by Chambers Harrap in October 2004 and a US edition will appear a few months later. The book contains many lists and articles which have never appeared here on the blog.

Comments, corrections, additions and suggestions for articles and lists are always welcome at the email address (see above). VitQ went through a bit of an ebb in the Spring due to moving house, poor health and computer problems. We are now back up to speed (new lists should appear a few times each week) and readership is rising, but please remind your friends if you like the site and help me get back to the 1000 hits a week which I had earlier in the year.


Because you always wanted a list of tortoise breeds:

Radiated tortoise / Hermann’s tortoise / Margined tortoise / Russian tortoise / Spurred tortoise / Home’s Cinixys / Red Foot tortoise / Ornate Box tortoise / Geometric tortoise / Burmese Brown tortoise / Spider tortoise / Brazilian Giant tortoise / Anamur tortoise / Carolina Box tortoise / Bell’s Cinixys / Leith’s tortoise / Angulated tortoise / Burmese Starred tortoise / Argentinian tortoise / Forsten’s tortoise / Travancore tortoise / Kalahari Tent tortoise / Areolated Homopus / Amboina Box tortoise / South African Starred tortoise / Impressed tortoise / Malagasy Flat-tailed tortoise / Greek tortoise / Leopard tortoise / Galapagos tortoise / Aldabra Giant tortoise / Chaco tortoise / Bolsen tortoise / Gopher tortoise / Soft-shelled tortoise / Elongated tortoise / Bow-sprit tortoise / Egyptian tortoise / Desert tortoise / Star tortoise / Eroded Cinixys / Leopard tortoise / Pancake tortoise / Hinge-back tortoise / Yellow Foot tortoise / Indian Starred tortoise / Madagascar Plougshare tortoise / Texas tortoise /

Source: various

Some interestingly named stitches:

Portuguese border / double darning / Algerian eye / zigzag chain / satin couching / Cretan insertion / detached wheatear / half Rhodes / faggot bundles / overcast eyelet / closed herringbone / corded clusters / square boss / attached fly /bullion knot  / up and down buttonhole / straight Milanese / double leviathan / Scottish diamond / serpentine hem / Antwerp eyelet / cobbler filling / spiral couching  / encroaching gobelin / lazy daisy / ribbon rose / whipped running / flat Vandyke / woven star / guilloche / Bosnian / diamond eye
~ Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Some types of sushi:
Toro (fatty tuna)
Kani (crab)
Tamago (egg)
Uni (sea urchin)*
Ikura (salmon roe)
Maguro (tuna)
Sake (salmon)
Ebi (shrimp)
Amaebi (sweet shrimp)
Kappa Maki (cucumber roll)
Tekka Maki (tuna roll)
Tai (red snapper)
Hirami (flounder)
Shako (squilla)*
Anago (eel)
Shinko Maki (shinko roll)
Temaki (hand-rolled sushi roll)
Akagai (ark shell)*
Aoyagi (round clam)*
Hamachi (yellowtail)
Kohada (gizzard shad)*
Mirugai (giant clam)
Hotategai (scallop)
Kazunoko (herring roe)*
California Maki (California roll)
Ika (cuttlefish)*
Tako (octopus)*
Saba (mackerel)
Futomaki (big roll)
Aji (horse mackerel)
* considered 'challenging' according to source (Kirin beer place mat)
~ Friday, July 16, 2004
Calamities, glitches etc occuring during poetry readings I have given:
Reads (through gritted teeth) while DJ adds beats to his poem (Los Angeles 01)
Declares a toilet break for himself during an hour long reading (Oxford 98)
Class of 15 year olds keep demanding 'the one about three in a bed sex' (London 02)
Pretentiously dedicates poem Detox to himself (Brighton 97)
Reads translation of his poem Simpatika in Tagalog, a language he does not know (Manila 01)
Announces, untruthfully,  to audience that he suffers from agoraphobia (London 94)
Reads How to Buy a Lion for the first and, mercifully, last time (Paisley 99)
Is asked by school pupil if he gathers with other poets to drink sherry (London 02)
Attracts crowd of zero (New Orleans 02)
Is heckled throughout reading by mad bloke on drugs (Edinburgh 94)
Asks audience (at length) to decide whether or not he just picked up pound coin from piss-puddle in toilets (London 04)
Tells audience (untruthfully) he hates animals (Aberdeen 95)
Has loudness competition with cappuccino machine (Borders, Glasgow 97)
Struggles to pay attention due to stunning woman in audience (who later attempts to seduce him) (Stockholm 02)
Displays over-excited reaction to birthday drinks (Inverness 97)
Makes American woman cry by reading Theft (Edinburgh 97)
Pettishly accosts publisher (who is present) about the price of his book (Bolton 97)

Wears biblical beard (Bolton 00)
Reads to asylum seekers, none of whom speaks English (Leeds 02)
Is (for umpteenth time) unflatteringly sketched by audience member (Cheltenham 02)
Sits on seat covered in glue (Bolton 97 - Bolton officially revealed as his 'bogey gig')
Makes woman cry by reading The Tremendous Few (Edinburgh 03)
Begins book launch reading with quote from Daphne & Celeste (London 01)
Gives the 'We are the 1 in 20!' passionate speech, to many nods (Bacolod 01)
Just, and no more, fights off urge to tell tragic recent life story to audience (Ledbury 04)
Reads in a Motley Crue T-shirt (London 00)
Forgets to bring poems (Tunbridge Wells 02)

~ Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Suggested line-up of events for a party, from The Girls Companion (no date, but I guess 1940s)

1 Who am I
2 Dance - Grand Old Duke of York
3 Competition - 'Jumbles' or 'Scottish Towns'
4 Dance - Dashing White Sergeant
5 Competition - Quoits or Wall Quoits
6 Dance - Palais Glide
7 Competition - 'Imps' or 'Kates' or 'Ages'
8 Dance - Eightsome Reel
9 Supper
10 Dance - Cumberland Reel
11 Competition - Golf Putting
12 Dance - Strip the Willow
13 Competition - Christian Names or Photographs of Celebrities
14 Dance - Petronella
15 Competition - Dried Peas Race
16 Dance - Haymakers
17 Ice Cream or Second Supper
18 A Musical Tale
19 Dance - Eightsome Reel
20 Competition - Parts of the Body or Quotations
21 Dance - Push the Business On
22 One Man Charades
23 Prize Giving
24 Auld Lang Syne

Why, after a few moments of laughter, does the urge to go to a party like this envelop everyone who reads this list?
~ Monday, July 05, 2004

‘Dimensions of Pain’ categorised in a celebrated medical questionnaire:

Flickering, Quivering, Pulsing, Throbbing, Beating, Pounding
Jumping, Flashing, Shooting
Pricking, Boring, Drilling, Stabbing, Lancinating
Sharp, Cutting, Lacerating
Pinching, Pressing, Gnawing, Cramping, Crushing
Tugging, Pulling, Wrenching
Hot, Burning, Scalding, Searing
Tingling, Itchy, Smarting, Stinging
Dull, Sore, Hurting, Aching, Heavy
Tender, Taut, Rasping, Splitting

Tiring, Exhausting
Sickening, Suffocating
Fearful, Frightful, Terrifying
Punishing, Gruelling, Cruel, Vicious, Killing
Wretched, Blinding

Annoying, Troublesome, Miserable, Intense, Unbearable

Spreading, Radiating, Penetrating, Piercing
Tight, Numb, Drawing, Squeezing, Tearing
Cool, Cold, Freezing
Nagging, Nauseating, Agonizing, Dreadful, Torturing

Source: the McGill-Melzack Pain Questionnaire

It has been noted that this questionnaire is difficult to adapt to langauges with lesser / different vocabularies. Below is the equivalent list developed for Welsh speakers, translated back into English:

Locked, Frozen, Jabbing, Scraping, Sweeping, Hammering, Spasm, Feel a draft, Hard, Soft, Light, Knock out, Getting worse, Severe, Uncomfortable

Worrying, Imprisoning, Suffering, Restless. Self-doubting, Difficult, Isolated, Bored, Depressing, Flat, Low, Really low, Going crazy, Impatient, Fed up, Stress, Guilty, Burden, Acute

Excruciating, Particularly bad, A little pain, Bad, Very bad, Terrible, Easing, So-so, Worse every time

Loss and disability
Miss work. Lose confidence. Miss things I usually do. Put an end to my active life. Old age coming at once. Can't get up. Can't turn. Can't stand. Can't move. Can't walk. Can't bend down. Can't sit. Can't sleep. Can't work. Can't do anything. Can't do things. Can't go to chapel. Can't settle.

Been through everything. Keep busy. Fight. Find a way around. Cope. Leave things. Not expecting too much. Determined. Put it out of your mind. Try and keep going. Try again. Try to hide it. Try everything. I won't be an invalid.

Giving in
Never going to be free of this. Don't make an effort. Let myself go. Give up things. Too much trouble. Change someone's life. Put a stop to everything.

Grateful. Thankful. I can't complain. Lucky.

Source: Describing chronic pain: towards bilingual practice. Roberts, Kent, Prys and Lewis, published in Nursing Studies, 2003.

~ Thursday, July 01, 2004

A VitQ special in which some of my friends discuss whether they buy into (or not) some stereotypical ‘girly’ things.

The Brontes

Clare: Hmmm chick literature. Maybe if there were more chocolate and shoes and less crazy women rattling the keyrings of their male oppressors in there I could count this as being girly. If Jane Eyre was a real girl’s heroine, we'd have had a much better description of her wedding dress. Both times.
Mhairidh: Emily Bronte has got a lot to answer for - not least the launch of Kate Bush's career.*
Nina: "Wicked, perhaps, she is, but also she is strong: and her strength has conquered Beauty, has overcome Grace, and bound both at her side, captives peerlessly fair, and docile as fair." Charlotte rocks.
Julia: I would like to go to Howarth Parsonage Museum to buy a nice teatowel with a picture of Branwell on, and some Vilette fudge. Other than that - no thanks. Wuthering Heights is maddening and witless and has a broken backed structure, Jane Eyre's psychology gives me the willies. More of an Austen woman myself. Or Brett Easton Ellis.

Romantic Comedy Films

Mhairidh: OK, I admit it One Fine Day nestles in between Memento and Requiem for a Dream on my DVD shelf. Sometimes you just want to watch a no-brainer.
Nina: Heavily sedated, perhaps I could sit through one of these.
Julia: If John Cusack is happy to star in it, I'm happy to watch it - but film making focus groups who aim for girls' hearts and their hormones and not their brains or funny bones are never going to win my multiplex pound.
Clare: Only if they're retro. Pillow Talk, Gone with the Wind, The Young Ones (Cliff version - ok that might just be me). A good old weepy needs to be rooted in a not so real historical context, when you start feeling that you're watching your own life you may as well be out living it. Plus, the frocks are better.


Mhairidh: I like the look of them on the shelf but I just love my Doc Martens too much. Besides I've got very delicate ankles.
Clare: The girliest person I know can no longer walk comfortably in bare feet, due to extended heel usage, but she's only 4'11". It's one step away from foot binding - mark my words. So saying, I can appreciate a fabulous pair of shoes, you just wouldn't catch me wearing them.
Julia: I've just long-jumped into the red for a pair of pale pink stilleto mules which tie up with two metre long, two inch wide hot pink satin ribbons. It's a shame.
Nina: Send a car for me, and I'll consider wearing heels.

Posh Make-up

Nina: The value of expensive makeup is multiplicative: one posh lipstick is 5 times as exciting as the stack of 5 cheap lipsticks you could have bought with the same money.
Julia: It’s a thrill for ladies, not girlies. Girlies slap up with 99p own brand chemist eyeshadow in Cosmo colours, the sparkles so coarse they're practically still fish scales. Ladies are gently eased apart from fifteen pounds in an airport duty free for one pro-vitamin B5 enriched mascara. Nothing to stop you from being both lady and girly at the same time though.
Mhairidh: I really like posh make up but I'm scared of it. What if you buy the wrong thing? You can't go back to those scary department store counters - you'd look like a fool.
Clare: Is this make-up that makes you look like Victoria Beckham? This is actually something that makes me really angry, but I'll try to keep my venting to a minimum. Why? Why are *any* cosmetics necessary? Why? Seriously, give me an answer that doesn't have something to do with impressing men (who don't notice anyway) or having a screwed up self image. There's a reason why Glam Rock boys wear make-up as a joke, it is a joke.


Clare: Ahhh, that's better. Truly girly chocolate comes in a box tied with a ribbon and is literally worth its weight in gold.
Mhairidh: Chocolate is the solution to all of life's problems. Especially after three weeks on the Atkins.
Nina: 70% bitter is up there with red wine, cigarettes and coffee.
Julia: I like Minstrels well enough. But not in a squealy way.

The Little Black Dress

Julia: Cocktail parties with dress codes? That's so dull and anonymous I might as well go black tie.
Mhairidh: It is definitely a social myth that has fuelled the misery of the Bridget Jones generation.
Nina: A quick survey reveals eight of these in my wardrobe. Still, it's not my favourite fashion uniform.
Clare: I wouldn't say this was girly, more womanly. A true woman has a Little Black Frock in her wardrobe for last minute cocktail/dinner/launch parties. Girls don't get invited these sort of dos.

Slushy Songs

Julia: They give me frostbite, brrr - but then I do have the musical tastes of a seventeen year old boy. Lots of squally guitars and teenage angst in my (alphabeticised) cd collection - not an Amy Winehouse, Will Young or Doodah album in sight. Do I win an iPod?
Clare: Slushy songs are traditionally those with lyrics like "I love yoooooou, yes I doooooo, oooooeeeooo". But I'm pretty sure that real girls are allowed to like Aimee Mann, Tori Amos and Debbie Harry, you know, slightly cynical about love, but essentially in favour of it. But no rock or indie music, that's for boys and absolutely no folk music, it's simply not cool enough and the cardigans are just horrible.
Nina: What are they for? They seem to target a part of the brain that I suspect I'm missing.
Mhairidh: I quite like slushy songs, but only country & western ones. As far as Westlife go, surely any self-respecting person between the ages of 14 and 60 just says NO.

Fancy Stationery

Nina: If fancy means a thousand subtle variations on thick heavy paper and smooth glossy ink, then yes, yes, yes. If fancy means with kittens on, no.
Mhairidh: Sure, I would be impressed by a nice letterhead showing an SW7 address, but let's not lament it any longer - snail mail is on its way out.
Clare: My man and I both like stationery shops. I like the paper and he likes the pens. Ahh Mr Freud, how you do crop up.
Julia: After Accesorize, Paperchase is the best place to spend your pocket money - but this is no girlie-specific retail fetish. Ask a group of male poets to show you their notebooks, and one after the other they will pull out A6 black moleskins, like a giant game of dominoes. And they'll write in them in architects' roller balls, to a man. **


Julia: I thought this was a trick question, the odd one out in a list of things that only girls like. Boys like mayonnaise too don't they? Same as girls like brown sauce?
Nina: I can't think of mayonnaise without thinking of Disgusting Things I'd Sooner Eat, none of which I can mention in this family blog.
Mhairidh: You just can't win with mayonnaise. The real deal is hyper-calorific but the 'lite' stuff is manky. Although it does make cold egg palatable.
Clare: No. Mayonnaise is evil. Just look at it sitting on a spoon all wobbly and unnaturally white. Euw. How can anything that looks like the result of liposuction possibly be girly?

Scatter Cushions

Julia: Is this an instruction? Plough the fields and scatter cushions?
Nina: Nice in theory, but the reality escapes me. You can't scatter a single cushion, and if you buy six, how do you get them home?
Clare: Ok, I'll give you this one. There's something about unnecessary cushions that makes me smile. I'm also a recent convert to fleecy blankets to snuggle under. Oh no, I am a girl after all.
Mhairidh: I'm note quite sure what scatter cushions are but they sound dangerous. Granny. Tray of tea and shortbread. Eeek. Hip replacement.

* No Kate Bushes were harmed in the making of this list.
** Personally, I’m a biro and bus ticket man. I think she is meeting those hyper-drafting chaps with poetry as an ‘elegant hobby’ and not the dirt-blooded ‘real thing’

Source: with many, many thanks to J, N, M and C.

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