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Gerry Rafferty; Don McLean; fat dogs and big brains

Published: Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gerry Rafferty
I see that Gerry Rafferty of City to City has died of alcohol related illness.  His obituary reported that 30 years after it first appeared the song was still earning him £80,000 a year. This reminded me what American singer/songwriter Don Mclean said when asked what his song “American Pie” meant.  He said “It means I never have to work again.”

I really liked a Gerry Rafferty song called “Mary Skeffington”.  In my mind’s eye I thought it might be about a farm servant or house maid he had seen in an old photograph.  From his obituary we learn that Mary Skeffington was his mother who when he was a boy used to trail him around the streets of Paisley to keep him away from his drunken, violent father. All terribly sad.

Don McLean
We once went to see Don McLean in concert in Limerick.  He sidled on to the stage with so little fuss it took the audience a while to realise he was on stage.  Being Ireland, the sound system packed up in the middle of the performance but he carried on with no amplification for voice or acoustic guitar.  Of all the versions of the Percy French song “Mountains of Mourne” his must be the best.

Fat dogs
Fat dogs again: Fiona in the Nutrition team thinks that some vets may be reluctant to tell pet owners their pets are overweight. She has spoken to someone who changed vets because the vet kept saying the dog was overweight.  If you don’t like the message…

Tree creeper
Down on the Kidwelly River walk yesterday morning I spotted a tree-creeper.  Probably the first I’ve seen in thirty years.

Big brains
A report by the University of Oxford’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology (you get a PhD if you can memorise that) says that dogs have bigger brains than cats because they are more sociable. The lead researcher said that animals living in groups were forced to be more sociable and some species had developed bigger brains to cope with the demands of socialisation.
Perhaps I am stupid or I’m missing something but couldn’t the development of bigger brains have come first and the animals have become more sociable as a result?

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