The Lobby: Off-topic discussion

Hello and welcome to The Lobby! Your place to discuss subjects that just don’t fit in our other conversations. Make yourself at home!

Do you want to discuss an issue but can’t find the right place to post it? Or maybe you’re looking for somewhere to chat with your community pals? Well, you’ve come to the right place…

As with any community or conversation it can – and does – wander off-topic. This is perfectly natural, but it hasn’t always been possible to do so on some of our posts because of the precisely defined nature of each subject.

So, at the behest of some of our community members, we created this off-topic discussion area – The Lobby.

Any ideas spawned here in The Lobby could generate new posts for debate and discussion on Which? Conversation, so you – our community members – are able to help shape the direction of our community.

What happened to the original Lobby?

Why do we have two Lobbies? Well, like all good franchises, we wanted to experiment with a sequel. But seriously, the original Lobby was so popular (with almost 13,000 comments), it was becoming hard to load the page.

So we’re starting fresh with what we’re affectionately calling “The Lobby 2”.

No comments from first Lobby have been deleted, and you can still link to comments, but you won’t be able to add new comments.


To ensure The Lobby remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts, musings all of our Community Guidelines apply, with the exception of one:

You may go off-topic… that is the purpose of The Lobby.  🙂

Looking for other areas to talk?

• Website feedback: Let us know about any technical issues, and share your ideas on the future of Which? Conversation closure: A discussion about the closure of

Which? Members: Discuss issues related to our organisation, including governance

Welcome to the Lobby!

So without further ado… welcome! What are you waiting for!?


Welcome to International Civil Aviation Day, the day in 1783 on which the Theatre Royal opened in Covent Garden and the day in 1916 when Lloyd George replaced Asquith as Prime Minister

A hangover is the Wrath of Grapes.

A friend never drinks anything stronger than pop. Mind you, you should see what dad drinks…

He’s donating his body to science and preserving it in alcohol until they can use it.

Welcome to Choral Day, the day in 1966 when the US and USSR signed a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons in space and the day in 1813 of Beethoven’s 7th first performance.

A skeleton walks into a bar and says “I’d like a drink and a mop.”

Is that supposed to be humerus?

I never learned to spell at school; the teacher kept changing the words.

Maybe the teacher deserves to be punished for humiliating the kids. I suggest a long sentence.

An English teacher sees a boy looking out of the window and shouts “You boy! Give me two pronouns.”
The boy replies “Who. me?”

I am surprised the boy didn’t retort with a verb and a preposition.

Or one or more digits?

I suppose we could ask both to mind their language.

Welcome to International Anti-Corruption Day, the day in 1990 on which Lech Walęsa won Poland’s first presidential election and the day in 1960 of the first broadcast of Coronation Street.

I’ve got GCSEs in Biology and Metalwork, so if you need somebody to weld your budgie, I’m your man.

Metalwork and cookery could be a recipe for brazed steak.

A primary school boy, when asked where Hadrian’s wall was, asked if it was round Hadrian’s garden.

That sounds like the ultimate in walled gardens.

There’s a bigger one in China.
A lot of our plants came from there.

I tend to think of invasive species as plants and animals that have been imported and get everywhere because of a lack of competition. Maybe Chinese electrical goods could be classified as invasive species.

He was a slow starter. In the reception class he was different from all the other four year olds; he was eleven.

If anyone’s good with sums, there’s a million dollar prize for the first person to solve this:

y2 = x3 + ax + b

where x and y are variables and a and b are fixed constants. Have fun.

I cannot get past trying to understand fixed constants….

I think Ian’s superscripts have failed to paste correctly.

As shown here:- I think it should be

y^2 = x^3 +ax + b

y²=x³ +ax+b
You can copy and paste from, e.g., Word.

It’s not worked from my perspective, Malcolm. All I can see is

y²=x³ +ax+b

Some of us have been reprimanded for discussion of subjects that might not be of interest to the general public.

If anyone is going to start integrating, please clear up afterwards.

I wouldn’t know where to start with that. Had a pal who was a renowned specialist in NAG library optimisation on the Cray. His first PhD was unreadable to me – including the title…

Factorising a cubic isn’t so hard; I may tackle this one (there is only a single term with Y in it so the square is a red herring).

Well, there’s a million dollars waiting if you can solve it.

To help you should know that the modern formulation of the conjecture relates arithmetic data associated with an elliptic curve E over a number field K to the behaviour of the Hasse–Weil L-function L(E, s) of E at s = 1. More specifically, it is conjectured that the rank of the abelian group E(K) of points of E is the order of the zero of L(E, s) at s = 1, and the first non-zero coefficient in the Taylor expansion of L(E, s) at s = 1 is given by more refined arithmetic data attached to E over K/ Hope that makes it easier…,



My first version I think will be to have A and B as alterable constants on a spreadsheet and a column of Y dependent on X with X varying over a relevant interval with several tens (or possibly hundreds) of points – with a graph of course..

I think I’ll stick to continuing to dig out my new wild-life pond. I’ve used graph paper to draw out the plan and sections.

You might find a spreadsheet useful, Malcolm. It will create a water-resistant lining for the pond. Well that’s my conjecture.

I do propose to spread a sheet of liner. I doubt I can make my clay soil sufficiently watertight. The waste from the pond is intended to create a rock garden (rocks extra) so it is two projects in one. My contribution to the environment. I hope for a downpour or two to fill it with natural water; I don’t particularly want to resort to the recycled stuff out of my tap, although the chlorine will soon disappear, particularly if I spray it in.

I must beware! “Legionellosis (Legionella): caused by Legionella bacteria, this is an infectious disease that can be caught by anyone, but elderly gardeners and those with a suppressed immune system are most vulnerable. There are two types to which gardeners may be exposed: Legionella longbeachae, occuring in soil and compost, which can lead to a respiratory disease; and the more common L. pneumonophila, which leads to a type of pneumonia known as legionnaires disease. The latter form occurs naturally at low levels in watercourses but can multiply in standing water to potentially harmful levels when the water temperature is between 20°C to 45°C.

I have been told that some garden centres no longer stock pond plants because of health and safety issues. I have no idea whether there is any truth in this.

I could easily been a victim of Legionnaires’ Disease because I spent some time in the recently built Stafford District General Hospital shortly before the outbreak in 1984. I don’t know how many people know that hot water should be stored at 60°C but in the working environment it is legion that the water temperature is checked regularly.

Another risk with ponds and slow-flowing water is Leptospirosis, another bacterial infection that can result in Weil’s disease at any age. I was trained to run pond-dipping sessions for kids earlier this year.

Malcolm: ponds are endemic around here, and the two things most folk agree is the size determines how healthy your pond will be. Small garden ponds (smaller than 300 square feet) will need oxygenation if you want to avoid them turning green and slimy and good garden centres also flog a number of plants with specific functions.

Even with the sort of rain we get here, a pond that is simply a bathtub filled with water and no oxygenation of plants will look pretty dire after a year. We have a stream. Much easier to look after 🙂

I would have preferred a river and lake but have to work within my limitations. Oxygenating plants will be at the top of the list.

Welcome to Human Rights Day, the day in 1936 when Edward VIII Abdicated and the day in 1964 on which the Nobel Peace Prize was presented to Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Time for some real exam answers again:

Flirtation makes water safe to drink, because it removes sand, grit and dead sheep

Asked to explain the importance of elections in society, a student wrote “Elections are essential, since without them there would be no new children”

A case of electoral dysfunction, perhaps.

The forthcoming general electrocution could solve a lot of problems.

(07 02am) Superb! A real day brightener.

The four seasons are Salt. Pepper. Mustard and Vinegar

A former English teacher once committed a delightful typo in the menu for the annual Christmas lunch:
“…. served with seasonable vegetables.”

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I don’t think BT gets an unfair share of complaints and for most people I think their telecom service is reliable and satisfactory. I have had little cause to contact BT customer services but when I have done the response has been adequate and satisfactory and the agent has been well-informed and competent.

BT might only have an estimated 35% of the telecommunications traffic in the UK [although I have never seen a source quoted for that figure] but it has a very high proportion of the infrastructure and most of the ‘hammering’ of BT was because of its poor broadband connectivity and performance. You might recall there were page after page of complaints in Which? Conversation about places where speeds were lamentable and the service unreliable, even in well-populated areas.

There had also been complaints to Ofcom that other telecom service providers were finding it difficult to get repairs and new connections made to the BT network which was carrying their traffic for a charge, allegedly because BT was prioritising its own telecom service requirements. The arms-length detachment of Openreach seems to have remedied that particular problem and there should now be a level playing field. I am not sure whether the broadband service is better in the places giving rise to multiple complaints but there have been few complaints here over the recent past – possibly because the story has receded in prominence.

It doesn’t really matter what individuals and the rest of the world thinks constitutes a monopoly because for decades in this country it has been regarded as an organisation that has 25% of the business and that is the statutory level that is accepted by all professionals and commentators. In the case of BT Group [including Openreach], as well as carrying over a third of the traffic it accounts for a very high proportion of the infrastructure [well over two thirds in my estimation]. This gives the company a dominant position in the market place – and with that come responsibilities. BT itself does not moan about this and has taken steps to be the leader in the UK telecoms industry not just in size but in quality of service, performance and reliability. There is a perception, however, that it is comparatively expensive and that will always attract criticism.

Welcome to International Mountain Day, the day in 1997 on which 150 industrial nations reach agreement to control heat-trapping greenhouse gases and the day in 2012 when Stephen Hawking won the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize.