What's your favourite song? Like, of all time? I know I know, it's hard to pin down. You’re finding it hard to choose between Justin Timberlake’s Rock your body or Beyonce’s Halo, aren’t you?

Well, don't worry, I can solve your dilemma. The best song in the world is…

U2’s Gloria.

Oh stop it with your howls of derision. You know it’s true. It’s just that somewhere between about 1989 and 2015 U2 became ‘uncool’, and you feel all embarrassed to admit it. Well, it’s not Bono’s fault people keep giving him money to express his opinion in music documentaries. It’s not The Edge’s fault that having a name that starts with ‘the’ is no longer de rigueur—that’s down to us, baby. It’s not Adam’s fault we all worry a bit if he is OK. (I hope he’s OK). It’s not Larry’s fault that because he is the most reliable drummer in the whole world there is never any U2 drummer scandal to talk about. [1]

Grow a spine and try to speak up!

Listen to it, man. This song kicks all other songs out of the water, hooks itself up to a couple of great white sharks and then water skis down the line of a massive wave, up a giant water funnel and into the sun. It’s got guts! It’s got feeling! It is unashamedly earnest!

You, with all your snark and cynicism and liking things ‘ironically’—secretly you know it: you are shallow, unhappy, unfulfilled; forever and frantically chasing the next thing nobody’s ever heard of. You YEARN for a thrilling guitar riff, a thumping beat and some god-damn PASSION.

You also know that if you put Bono in a kind of vocal Thunderdome he would pulverise the rest. He wouldn’t even need a bouncy harness and a chainsaw to do it. He’d just stand in the middle of the arena and… feel. Two voices in, one voice out! (Bono’s [2]). Bono’s voice would blast all others away like the ghostie people who came out of the Ark of the Covenant, straight into the hereafter. Straight to God (or his downstairs colleague), because U2 is God’s band ( te domine/ Gloria...exultate) and He’s on their side.

Now I’m not saying you’ll be turned into a pillar of salt if you don’t admit U2’s Gloria is the best song ever, because if the Christian God does exist I would prefer to believe He really does allow free will and would even let you play Supertramp’s Greatest Hits on repeat without divine punishment [3], but as I cannot know the unknowable I’ll just put it out there that it’s a possibility. [4]

Oh Lord, if I had anything… listen to it…feel it…splash some paint on your best jeans and cut the arms of your tshirt… open that door and let U2 back into your heart.


  1. I mean, would it kill him to blow up his kit live on stage or throw a television out a hotel window once in while?
  2. Tina Turner would naturally remain the mistress of vocal Thunderdome, so we will never know who would win that battle.
  3. Actually I am lying, you should suffer for eternity for that. 
  4. Yes yes I know that if you just pretend to think Gloria is the best song of all time He will know because he is omniscient—that just means you’re going to have to try really hard. NB: I don’t think U2 is as religious as they were at the start of their career so it is possible Gloria has moved down a bit in God’s ‘Current Favourites’ playlist.



2015 will have three Friday the 13ths. I don't mean that Jason Vorhees is returning in a back-to-back cinematic triptych released faster and more furiously than anything in the Fast and the Furious franchise, but that there are three months in which the 13th falls on a Friday. To whit: February, March and November.

Surely that’s a fluke caused by that whole February-March collusion (the subject of another conspiracy, perhaps)—in the long run there should only be a one in seven chance of the 13th falling on a Friday. Right?

What if I told you that it can be proved mathematically that it’s not an even race, that Friday is more likely to be Black than any other day of the week? Suddenly it seems a little suspicious, doesn't it?

Yes, I know it sounds impossible at first. After all, 52 weeks doesn’t fit evenly into 365 days, so it tends to cycle through. Every day of the week should get a go at being the 13th.

But this is all complicated by leap years, that extra 29th February we get every fourth year. Except it's even more complicated than that, because turns-of-the-century are not leap years. Except it's even more complicated than that, because every fourth century there is a leap year, eg the year 2000.

Somehow this all works out to make our calendar match up with the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, although occasionally the time lords at Greenwich throw in an extra second to keep us on our toes. Watch out for it this year on 30th June, when 11:59 pm will have 61 seconds. (I would say to set your clock for that, but well, I don’t know how you can).

Anyway, the end result is that, according to Wikipedia, every 400 years of our calendar contains 146,097 days, which is 2,871 weeks exactly. So the distribution of days of the week is fixed in every 400-year block, therefore they can never exactly even out.

And it turns out that, over the 4,800 months in those 400 years, Friday the 13th occurs 688 times. That gives it slightly more than a one in seven chance; more like 1.003 in seven.

But, you protest, that's just the luck-of-the-draw, isn't it? For that to be a conspiracy it would have to have been rigged right from the establishment of the calendar!

That's exactly what I'm suggesting.

Our calendar system is known as the Gregorian calendar, established in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. Notice those Roman numerals: XIII = 13!

Having founded a whole calendar, Gregory XIII is rather well-known, as is his heraldic symbol, a dragon (actually a truncated dragon, which sounds to me like a drag). This rather devilish logo has over the years been fuel for many an anti-Catholic conspiracy theory, frequently comparing the pope to the Beast of Revelation, about whom it is written, "And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"

Who indeed. And what chapter of Revelation do you think it is that bears this prophecy? I'll answer for you: it's Revelation 13!

(That’s also the chapter with the famous Number of the Beast, 666, but it’s hard to find a connection to 13 there. The best I can do is read 666 in base-13, in which it’s equivalent to 1098. And the only significance of that is that it was the year the First Crusade arrived in the Holy Land. Hmm…)

OK, so the existence of a conspiracy is proven beyond doubt, but how did it start? What is the meaning behind Friday the 13th?

According to scholars such as Dan Brown, in his authoritative work The Da Vinci Code, the suspicion around the date started on Friday 13 October 1307, when King Philip IV of France arrested Grand Master Jaques de Molay and sixty other Knights Templar. The Knights Templar, an order that was founded during—well bless my soul—the First Crusade.

It's well-known that all conspiracies begin with the Knights Templar.

Now whether there was an apocalyptic reason, beyond mere commemoration, for Gregory XIII—clearly a secret Knight Templar and probably a freemason too (like Sir Christopher Wren)—to set up the calendar like this, I cannot say. Notoriously secretive, these Illuminati. But I intend to keep looking for an answer, at least until they stop me.

All I can say is that it beats the alternative conspiracy theory about the Gregorian calendar—popular at the time of its inception—which is that it was a plot to cheat tenants out of a week and a half's rent.

I think we can dream a little bigger than that.


Pope Greg XIII, up to no good I'll wager.  Ospedale Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome , published by Ditta Vasari Fotografo Editore. Said to be a fresco in the great hall of the Banco Santo Spirito in Rome, featuring Pope Gregary XIII. Wellcome Library, London, image number V0030917.

Pope Greg XIII, up to no good I'll wager. Ospedale Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome, published by Ditta Vasari Fotografo Editore. Said to be a fresco in the great hall of the Banco Santo Spirito in Rome, featuring Pope Gregary XIII. Wellcome Library, London, image number V0030917.



The Great Fire of London. [1] You might have heard of it—and if you have, you likely also know that bakers were to blame. That’s right, bakers. Bakers! Bakers, those blessed souls responsible for bringing crusty bread, croissants and cronuts into the world. Bakers, who think of nothing else but feeding the world. Apparently, a professional baker ‘forgot’ to put out the fire in his oven, or didn’t really put it out properly, or something like that.  It was hot and dry, London was made out of sticks and straw and pitch, and hey presto, London’s burning.

I put it to you that this theory is ludicrous. A baker, living in a highly flammable house (inflammable, even) made of sticks and straw and pitch would know how to put out a fire properly. And what would a baker get out of burning down half of London, especially the half that contained his own bakery? [2] Insurance jobs were hardly worth the effort back then.

Now, what if I told you that there was someone else who benefited fabulously from the Great Fire of London? It made his fame and his fortune. Without the fire, this person would have been a nobody. Follow the money, that’s what we’re always told on cop shows. So who was this person?

Someone who had earlier proposed St Paul’s Cathedral be completely demolished and rebuilt, calling it ‘a heap of deformities’.

Someone who was no doubt cross when other Londoners opposed his vision and didn’t let him pull the whole thing down. (They did say he could build a dome over the existing tower, though).

Someone who then travelled to Paris expressly to work on a redesign of St Paul’s.

Someone who returned to London from Paris just a week before the Great Fire burned down St Paul’s Cathedral.

Someone who in subsequent years got to blow up bits of the remaining stonework (bonded together by once-molten lead) with gunpowder, thus erasing pretty much any trace of the previous structure.

Someone on whose tombstone (located in St Paul’s Cathedral) is writ ‘Here in its foundations lies the architect of this church and city...who lived beyond ninety years, not for his own profit but for the public good. Reader, if you seek his monument—look around you’. [3]

Are you immediately suspicious of this person? As an esteemed political commentator once remarked, you bet I am you bet you are. So, who is the true perpetrator of the Great Fire of London?

Sir Christopher Wren.

After the Great Fire Wren didn’t just get to rebuild St Paul’s, he got the gig of rebuilding FIFTY TWO (52) churches—amongst other things. The fire established his career and allowed him to ‘afford’ to take a wife. (And then another, when his first died of smallpox. His second died of tuberculosis. Vaccines, eh—what are they good for?).

Wren was highly educated, having studied physics, anatomy, astronomy, mathematics, and other things. Furthermore, he was an architect, and who isn’t suspicious of architects? They are always up to something. Setting a fire and casting the blame on a poor innocent baker would have been a trivial thing for such a man. It is entirely possible the unfortunate Lord Mayor of London (Sir Thomas Bloodworth) was in the pay of Wren, and his failure to act to stop the spread of the fire (‘Pish! A woman could piss it out’ [4]) was recompensed amply once Wren had achieved his success. [5] After all, Bloodworth achieved an immortality of his own, didn’t he?



  1. The one in 1666.
  2. Actually more like two thirds.
  3. Boastful much?
  4. Women can piss quite as much as men thank you very much Sir Bloodworth although our bottoms would have likely been burnt in the process.
  5. Documentary evidence for this frankly defamatory remark is yet to be located.
The villainous villain himself.  Sir Christopher Wren,  engraving by S Coignard, 1750, after M Rysbrack. Wellcome Library, London, image no. L0008200, Library reference ICV No 6874.

The villainous villain himself. Sir Christopher Wren, engraving by S Coignard, 1750, after M Rysbrack. Wellcome Library, London, image no. L0008200, Library reference ICV No 6874.



Some time in the late 1980s, a wonder was released upon our land. An innovation the likes of which we had never seen before. A marvellous invention that promised untold pleasure, health, cleanliness, and time savings to boot. It would change our lives for ever.

That product was Pert 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner.

The world rejoiced.

No longer did we have to shampoo and condition our hair separately. That’s right—one application of scented goop and our hair was both cleansed AND conditioned. Shower times were cut in half.

But I—I was wary of Pert’s promises of bouncy, manageable hair and mystified by our frenzied enthusiasm for the new “all plus and no fuss”. It was if we existed in a strange dream. For I knew—KNEW—we had seen this concept before.

Not decades ago or anything, I can only have been about 14 when Pert 2-in-1 stormed the world, but I was sure this revolutionary technology already existed. I was sure I had even used such products in my hair—maybe five years before Pert’s triumph—though I could not recall how bouncy and manageable my hair became.

Was I mistaken, or had Procter and Gamble [1] undertaken a massive, world-wide program of memory erasure?

Clearly the latter is the most likely of those two scenarios. But why—why did the manufacturers of Pert 2-in-1 seek to excise our hair-washing memories? Was it purely for monetary gain, to erase a successful competitor from human consciousness so they could steal their ideas? And if so, what happened to those 2-in-1 trailblazers? Did they become a ready source of stearic acid for Proctor and Gamble’s chemistry department? Or—did the memory wipe conceal an earlier and disastrous Pert formulation, one that perhaps caused mutation, gluten intolerance, vocal fry and/or even death? 

Nothing can be ruled out at this stage. I shall continue to research this dark mystery personally, as I cannot trust that our police departments are free from the influence of Big Hair. But the perpetrators of this mind-wipe must be brought to justice. I will keep readers abreast of any developments, unless I, too, am disappeared.


  1.  The original manufacturers of Pert 2-in-1
Not even Pert 2-in-1 claims to cure 'eruptions on the head'. How has H Arnold's amazing preparation escaped the notice of global multinationals? [H. Arnold's Lime Juice and Glycerine], lithograph, 1876. State Library of Victoria, Victorian Patent Office Copyright Collection, accession no. H96.160/2244.

Not even Pert 2-in-1 claims to cure 'eruptions on the head'. How has H Arnold's amazing preparation escaped the notice of global multinationals? [H. Arnold's Lime Juice and Glycerine], lithograph, 1876. State Library of Victoria, Victorian Patent Office Copyright Collection, accession no. H96.160/2244.



Things were simple in my youth. There were twelve VFL teams, four TV channels, two types of potato. And four flavours of potato chip. Whether Thinly Sliced, or Crinkle Cut, chips came in Plain, Salt & Vinegar, Chicken and Barbecue. What's more, no matter what the brand, you could rely on the colour of the packet to tell you what flavour you were holding. Plain chips came in blue, Salt & Vinegar in magenta, Chicken came in green, and Barbecue was orange. All quite distinct, even for those with red/green colour blindness. Back then, as a preliterate child, I knew what I was getting. There were no surprises.

How times have changed. If you're not looking, you can now pick up a pack of chips only to discover that it is Cheddar flavour, or Sour Cream & Chives flavour, or Tasmanian Mountain Pepper & Braised Beef, or Dill Pickle, or Habanero Chilli, or Meat Pie with Tomato Sauce, or Wasabi and Ginger, or Red Caviar. These are all real flavours.

In this mad rush for the most bizarre flavour, brands have abandoned the universal colour coding of the past. Now we have a dangerous situation where a red packet may signify Aussie Hot Dog, or Sour Cream & Sweet Chilli, or even Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream! This is, frankly, intolerable. And unnecessary. As humans are capable of recognizing hundreds of different flavours, we can discern hundreds of colours too.

I propose an international registry of potato chip packet colours. Existing flavours will be grandfathered in and assigned appropriate colours: Salt & Vinegar will naturally receive Pantone Process Magenta. Barbecue orange is Pantone 1585. Light & Tangy can be assigned Pantone 809, a bright fluorescent lime, to act as a prominent deterrent to the unwary. Newly proposed flavours will be taste-tested and assigned a colour by qualified synaesthetes, who can finally earn a living from their otherwise useless superpower. International trade treaties will provide harsh penalties for noncompliance, and here I am specifically thinking of American chip companies who try to pass off Salt & Vinegar using Pantone Process Cyan, which of course is reserved for Almond and Coriander Pesto flavour. Handily, if anyone ever tries to make a Tobacco flavoured potato chip, it can be assigned olive brown Pantone 448, just like plain cigarette packaging.

Without these precautions, it's only a matter of time before some innocent youngster ingests a Roast Turkey & Cranberry Sauce flavoured potato chip. Think of the children!

DEBORAH PICKETT, MELBOURNE (@FUTZLE), who can still taste that Mint Raita chip years afterwards.

Pale apricot packets shall designate boiled mutton flavour. Mmm, boiled mutton. [Boiled Mutton prepared by Thomas Knight Bennet], 1873. State Library of Victoria, H96.160/2345.

Pale apricot packets shall designate boiled mutton flavour. Mmm, boiled mutton. [Boiled Mutton prepared by Thomas Knight Bennet], 1873. State Library of Victoria, H96.160/2345.