The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Why we’re all just big BANANAS!
...and how vending machines are far deadlier than sharks – just two of the curios art collector CHARLES SAATCHI reveals in a mind-boggling new book
HE IS best known for a collection of modern art which famously included Tracey Emin’s unmade bed. But businessman Charles Saatchi is a writer, too. And it seems he also has an eye for collecting facts and truths about the world we live in that are no less strange, colourful or occasionally eyepopping than the exhibits in his gallery – as this extraordinary new book makes clear…
OUR DNA HAS GONE BANANAS
CHIMPANZEES are of course our closest living relatives but, bewilderingly, mankind shares 50 per cent of its DNA with bananas, the world’s most popular fruit. Seven billion of us consume a billion of them annually, with the average Britain eating a hundred bananas a year. Myths that are routinely spread include claims that bananas are radioactive and that their high potassium levels make them dangerous. Rest assured there is little to fear unless you manage to eat 400 a day. Conveniently, bananas are used by our bodies to produce serotonin, making us feel more content. More prosaically, banana peel can polish silverware, put a shine on leather shoes, and will produce a healthy-looking house plant if you smooth it on the leaves. So next time you are accused of being bananas, don’t be insulted… because you actually are.
WIN LOTTO? YOU’LL BE HIT BY A METEOR FIRST
WINNING the jackpot on the lottery is a stroke of blindingly good luck. To put such a win into perspective, you are more likely to be killed as your make your way to buy a ticket than to actually win. Or be hit by a part of a plane falling from the sky. Or be on board the plane when it crashes. Or crushed by a meteor, or hit by lightning. You are also more likely to become an astronaut, win an Oscar or an Olympic gold medal, than that elusive jackpot. Startlingly, you are even more likely to die from flesh-eating bacteria.
INDIA’S GOLDEN PASSION
ACROSS a country that knows some of the most grinding poverty on Earth sits more than £745billion of gold. In fact Indian housewives own more gold than the IMF, the USA and UK combined. It is crucial to India’s culture and traditions, and the girls in even the poorest families can expect to wear a gold nose ring for a wedding. Historically, gold given to brides was their social security. Land may be lost or stolen over the years, but no one argues that a woman’s gold is her own, and is a lady’s right. Only a third of Indians own bank accounts, due to the bureaucracy involved and an inherent belief that the formal financial system is stacked against them. Even in the most difficult of times, Indians are reluctant to give up their gold – doing so is considered a stigma.
EAT CARDBOARD NOT CORNFLAKES
IN LABORATORY tests a dozen rats were fed on cardboard and water – and lived longer than an identical group fed on cornflakes and water. In other words, the pack is more nutritious than the cornflakes inside. How could this be? Apparently breakfast cereals are manufactured using the ‘extrusion’ process, forcing a watered grain mixture through little holes using high temperature and pressure to form shapes, balls, flakes, shreds or puffs. Unfortunately, experts believe that the extrusion process destroys virtually all nutrients in the grain. There really is more nourishment in cardboard. Naturally, this is disputed by scientists employed or funded by cereal manufacturers.
FLY THAT’S KILLED HALF OF HUMANITY
SOME experts argue that there are more people alive on Earth today than have ever lived, though other statisticians dismiss this notion as unprovable. What is a certainty is that, over the years, more than half of the entire human race has been killed off by mosquitoes that carry malaria. The most efficient human army of killers in history were the Mongols, who murdered 11 per cent of the planet’s population. Other than people and mosquitoes, snakes are the planet’s most dangerous creatures, killing 50,000 people a year, followed by dogs, causing 25,000 deaths annually.
A LICENCE TO PRINT MONEY
EVERY year, the Parker Brothers toy company prints about £20 billion worth of Monopoly money to go with new sets of the classic game. This far exceeds all the currency produced each year by governments across the world. The game was invented
by an American anti-monopolist, who attempted to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in a few private hands. It was originally called The Landlord’s Game and you could play with two sets of rules: an anti-monopolist set in which all were rewarded when wealth was created, and a monopolist set in which the goal was to accumulate maximum power and crush opponents.
MOO-ARR... IT’S A WEST COUNTRY COW
CATTLE herds in the West Country are claimed to have the distinctive Somerset twang – more of a ‘moo-arr’ than the traditional moo. In the Midlands, farmers claim their beasts moo with Brummie accents, while Geordie tones are heard in herds in Tyne
and Wear. It is believed the cattle pick up their accents from farmhands and pass them on to their offspring. Regional variations were first noticed by the members of the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group who noticed different moos when visiting herds across the country. The National Farmers Union maintains that when cows are moved from one area of strong accents to another, there is a problem of them initially not responding to the new herd.
TINY ANTS WEIGH MORE THAN WE DO
THE world’s ants weigh more than all the people on the planet. That, of course, is because they outnumber us by 1.4million to one. Ants lived on Earth at least two hundred million years before early man. Remarkably, within one square mile of rural land you will find more insects than Earth’s entire human population. In a breakthrough research study, it was reported that ants are actually protecting the planet from the dangers of global warming. They are ‘weathering’ the minerals in sand, trapping atmospheric carbon dioxide. In fact, ants started farming long before humans, to help raise their own crops. They enhanced the plants they wanted to protect by secreting chemicals with antibiotic qualities to inhibit mould growth and even devised fertilisation protocols using manure.
DYSLEXIA... THE KEY TO ROCKET SCIENCE
WE ARE talking about rocket science now – and it seems that sufferers from dyslexia are better at it because of superior problem-solving skills and better spatial awareness. No wonder more than half of Nasa’s employees are dyslexic. People with dyslexia can also often demonstrate higher cognitive and linguistic functioning, reasoning, conceptual abilities and problem-solving. A quick glance at the distinguished roll call of dyslexic sufferers, including Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein, is convincing evidence. Ten per cent of the general population are thought to be dyslexic. WHY AFRICANS JUST LOVE A TUBBY LADY IN SOME African societies, being exceptionally tubby is a symbol of status and wealth. This is why in the Nigerian city of Calabar, ‘fattening centres’ are attracting rich customers who want to gain a great deal of weight quickly. The BBC World Service spoke to a couple who opted to go through this before their wedding. ‘In the morning you eat fine,’ says Happiness Edem, ‘and after eating you can take a bath. From there you can sleep, you sleep fine, you wake up, you eat, you sleep.’ Happiness attended the weight-loss clinic-in-reverse for a total of six months leading up to her wedding at the request of her husband, Morris Eyo Edem. By the time she had emerged, her body shape had changed triumphantly – to her husband’s delight. As one of the country’s princes, Mr Edem requires a particularly large wife, and says that a slim wife would have no appeal. ‘People will think I am not rich... if a woman is not fat, she does not qualify for marriage.’
IT’S OFFICIAL… GIRLS REALLY ARE GOSSIPS
SCIENTISTS have produced a study that supports the sexist stereotypes of talkative, gossipy women and strong, silent men. In her report The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine, a professor of psychiatry, claims that women not only talk more, but that often it is twice as fast. Her conclusion is that female brains function differently. Many observers have also noted that women are usually more emotionally literate and willing to talk about their feelings, whereas men tend to close off. At its root, the explanation for this seems to be a clinical one – that women are endowed with more of a specific ‘language protein’ called Foxp2. In a Journal Of Neuroscience report of tests of girls who were aged under 12, they were found to have 30 per cent more of this protein in their brain area connected to language and speech.
THE DANGER IN A SNACK ATTACK
EACH year more people are killed trying to get a snack out of a vending machine than die in shark attacks. Other murderers that are more deadly than sharks include jellyfish, hippopotamuses, dogs, fire ants, horses, bees, cows, coconuts falling on to your head, American football brain trauma, champagne corks flying into your forehead, tripping and falling, choking
on food… and ladders. © Charles Saatchi, 2017 l We Are Bananas, by Charles Saatchi, is published by Palazzo, £16.99. Offer price £12.74 (25 per cent discount) until June 18. Order your copy at www. mailbookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.