The For Fact’s Sake columns are – according to Google and the Duck ’n Fiddle’s Explanation of Everything – based in truth. Occasionally, however, names and places have been changed to protect innocent people involved.
Blowing up a storm
Most people, whether they’re smokers or not, can inflate a kid’s party balloon without any problem. A couple more puffs and you could easily burst it if you wanted to frighten the younger ones.
Now how about trying that with a hot-water bottle. These charming little bed pals are 12 times thicker than a balloon, and are specially designed not to burst. This is encouraging. Nobody wants to share their sheets with something that could perhaps explode boiling water all over the family jewels while you slept. Yikes! (Latin: slumberati scaldem scrotus eish!)
Anyway, meet Brian Jackson from Oklahoma. He saw a Ripley’s Believe it or Not TV programme, where some guy did in fact blow up a hot-water bottle, and decided to give it a try. He’s a short chap, around 40, with a large barrel chest which affords him 26% more lung capacity than we regular folks. Exactly how they measure that is a mystery, but our Mr Jackson took full advantage of this abnormality and started blowing up water bottles willy-nilly.
Soon he aspired to greater heights, and started inflating motor car tyres. Before long he’d progressed to the odd tractor or lorry tyre. Quite why he did this is unclear, but he reckoned that God had given him this… um… talent, so he’d be silly not to exploit it. He would inhale through his nose and exhale into a tube/pipe in his mouth, which seemed simple enough to him, so he set his sights on more outlandish challenges.
Blowing into what looked like a Kreepy-Krauly pipe, he managed to inflate a thick rubber balloon beneath a three-ton SUV until the two front tyres lifted clean off the ground. In between breaths, when inhaling through his nose, the pressure from that balloon coming back through the pipe into his body was enormous. Most of us would have simply exploded as if we’d swallowed a hand grenade. But not our Brian.
His latest achievement was a five-ton pantechnicon which even a helicopter couldn’t lift. This cemented his place in the Guinness Book of World Records, and earned him the nickname Mr Blow. Job well done, Brian, your mother must be very proud.
Most politicians wave their arms around when making speeches. These moves are either instinctive or carefully choreographed, but they’re an essential part of the body language necessary to drive home a particular idea. Men are worse at this than women.
To emphasise a point, some make a fist and bang away at an imaginary punch bag. Others flap both arms about like they’re drowning and hailing a lifeguard, and some could be mistaken for ‘air-conducting’ the Phantom Philharmonic Orchestra.
Then there are those who swat imaginary flies, and others who follow a more stylised routine, like the guys with the ping-pong bats guiding aeroplanes into their parking bays.
But a new category of arm-gymnastics during speeches has recently emerged. It’s known as the ‘air concertina’ and it’s easily performed. Simply extend both hands forward a little with the palms facing each other. Bingo! You have the starting position for an air-concertina solo, and how you suck-and-blow is up to you.
For tips, though, it’s worth watching some of the impromptu performances by none other than the Toxic Orange representing the USA, who created the genre in the first place and is the current Air Concertina World Champion. “Nobody comes even close to beating me,” he said shyly. “If they do, it’s been rigged, it’s a hoax and I’ll take them to court. I hand-picked the judges myself for serious cases like this, so I’ll never lose.”
Sadly, being referred to now as a ‘lame duck’ president, we’re likely to see less of these virtuoso performances during press briefings, but thankfully there’s a new dish on the menu – Lame Duck à l’Orange.