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Humour me for a moment.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page. Yes, all the way, keep going, down, down, into the black widget-infested footer.

Check out those flags! You will be there, a notch in my flag bedpost, so to speak, if that little guy is doing his job properly. I know what you’re thinking: those are pitifully small numbers. Unfortunately, the counter is not retroactive, and I installed it only a few days ago.

What prompted this post was not the inherent coolness of a bit of code that captures your IP address, but the fact that I saw a flag there today and thought to myself, ‘Where the **** is that?’ Swiftly followed by, ‘And how did he/she ever find me?’.

That is one thing I find so incredible about this whole blogging lark. The country stats that WordPress provides are an endless fascination to me. The idea of people in Saudi Arabia and Bosnia & Herzogovina reading my scribbles is astonishing. What do they make of them, I wonder? How much cross-over and how many common points could our lives possibly have? Yet I treasure those visitors, and thank them for opening my mind to wondering about them.

Those flags at the bottom of the page remind me of something else, which is much less humbling and is less inclined to make me think ‘wow, the world is so small!’ and more inclined to think ‘hoo yeah, we cleaned up then!’.

During my second spell of living in London, England (2004-2009), I was part of a four-person pub quiz team that rocked. Between us, there wasn’t much we didn’t know about sport, geography, reading and writing, pop music and classical music, identify-that-celebrity – you name it, we had an answer, and most of them were right. One of the team, a banker and therefore inclined to keep track of money, came up with a lovely spreadsheet tallying our earnings in both cash (pounds sterling) and runner-up bottles of wine.

But what, you’re asking, does this have to do with flags?

Every week, the photo quiz part included a flag of the world. And we were not so good at that – until I made a nifty cheat sheet, double-sided A4 (apologies, North American readers, that’s roughly your Letter size paper), with every flag of every country, folded to fit into a back pocket. A quick trip to the loo and, hey presto, instant flag answer.

Yes, I know, we should all be ashamed.

To finish off, I would like to apologise to everyone in Germany, for it turned out that’s the country whose flag I didn’t recognise on my counter. If only I still had that cheat sheet …

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