Weekly thoughts from Phillip

Nearly World Champion of Public Speaking

My friend Simon Bucknall has just placed second in the World Championship of Public Speaking, held in Vancouver this year. He is only the second Brit ever to achieve that honour (I was the first in 1995), and no one from Britain has ever been World Champion.

As soon as I heard the result, I posted an announcement on Facebook (there was no FB in my time), and it attracted a steady stream of congratulations. I’m sure there will be many who thought he was the best speaker, and I’ve no doubt his time will come soon.

Perhaps he will be Britain’s first World Champion of Public Speaking. Maybe next year?

The role of the chassis

Interviewing a Formula 1 executive after the Belgian Grand Prix, David Coulthard said, “(Some engine manufacturers) don’t want to supply you with engines because they know what you can do with a chassis.”

It was the sort of inside-knowledge comment that goes with a tap to the side of the nose. Meant nothing to me, and he did not explain.

It took me back many years to the introduction of the latest Jaguar, when a man who bought one told me it had “an incredible chassis.” I’ve always wondered about that. The chassis, after all, is the frame to which all parts of the car are bolted. How does it influence sporting performance?

My researches have so far not provided a simple explanation.

Complex technical language

My online browsing did, however, deliver a masterpiece of technical language that seems laden with meaning but, as far as I am concerned, it might as well be in Swahili. See what you can make of it. Addressing the question of s-ducts on F1 cars (don’t ask), it says:

“Once the duct twists tighter than the critical radius, flow restriction starts to go up nonlinearly compared to looser-than-critical-radius duct geometrics.”

You at the back of the class, yes you, the clever clogs with the round specs, tell me what that means.

Hay, hey or heigh?

I read somewhere today about someone’s hay day. And elsewhere someone else sighed in print with a hey-ho. Being an unrepentant pedant, I felt compelled to set the record straight.

It’s heyday, not hayday. Hey in this context derives from “high”, so your heyday would be your period of greatest energy and potential. Your prime.

Hey-ho should really be heigh-ho. It comes from the seven dwarf song in Disney’s Snow White cartoon film: “Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work we go …” and it signifies resignation – okey-doke, can’t change it, so just accept it. The Chinese have a similar phrase: hen hao, meaning very well, OK.

Perhaps heigh-ho is where the Lone Ranger got his signature farewell, “Hi-ho Silver! Away!” as he galloped into the sunset.