Strange Stories

Is it time to think carefully about the
spaghetti monster?

My recent articles on the issue of strange stories that people collect have opened a can of  floodgates or perhaps a tidal barrier of worms – I am not sure which.   Not only are several of my clients in the Admiral storage facility collecting tales of the weird and unexpected (not to say downright ludicrous) but it seems from my inbox that lots of other people have an interest in this.

I’ve had several emails from readers pointing out that if I really want weird, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, also known as Pastafariansm, might be worthy of my attention.

This church certainly came to the attention of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education of the Council of Europe who noted that Pastafarianism celebrates an invisible all-powerful being called the Flying Spaghetti Monster which created the universe in one day.  

Supporters of the idea then demanded a place on the school curriculum in the United States alongside evolution on the one hand and intelligent design on the other hand, on the basis that their notion was a third variety – singularly unintelligent design.

It seems that despite the absolute oddness of such a vision, in recent times the followers of Pastafarianism has flourished, for they now have their own very colourful website in which they report many sightings of the spaghetti monster.  

Apparently one can buy the t-shirt to show unity with the monster for $25 or one can alternatively send exactly the same amount of money for a certificate that makes one a certified minister of the cult.  

The website, incidentally, has a section to which people can write (and be published) if they wish to argue against Pastafarianism or even be abusive towards the believers, which seems fairly democratic.  

It certainly raises a new notion for websites.  One has the usual drop down menus at the top with such headings as “News”, “Products”, “Offers”, “Contact us” and then comes “Abuse”.  I am not sure many other websites have added this option, but certainly reading the abuse column on the Pastafarians website is quite, err, educational.  Or at least vocabulary expanding.

Incidentally, through writing this piece on Google Drive I have just discovered that the spell checker accepts the word “Pastafarian” as perfectly correct spelling.  

I therefore tested this discovery out by going into Google itself and typing Define:Pastafarian, and low and behold up popped a definition.  How fast notions can grow!

Of course, believing in a Deity or not is an intensely personal affair, and our society does indeed allow us the freedom to believe or not believe, and to argue for our own beliefs and against the beliefs of others.

But I wonder if we haven’t gone too far in believing in giving information technology the same rights.   I particularly wondered that this week when I got an email from my bank which said, “If you cannot see this email click here”.  Isn’t it time to start seeing IT not as a blessing but actually the work of some universal nasty-being which exists possibly in the anti-universe or whatever the latest proposition of physicists is as they attempt to explain what’s what and what’s not in the entirety of space and time?

I was still contemplating that rather overwhelming point when my attention was then drawn (for no reason that will become apparent at this time) to the notion of nominative determinism – the tendency of people to go into areas of work which fit their surname.

You may well have seen, for example, that the last Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales was Judge Judge (actual real name Igor Judge) until he was replaced by John Thomas – on which, of course, I make no comment.

Now there is a report that the population of dentists in the UK has many more men named Dennis, and women called Denise, than one might expect.  On the other hand I did come across Dr Burns at my local hospital recently, which caused me a certain amount of concern.

But I must leave you with a notice from the Driving Standards Agency which helpfully told me that I could “normally book a theory test online 24 hours a day, every day.   Outside these hours you can make a pending booking.”

So time beyond 24/7 really does exist, at least within government departments.  I always thought that might be the case.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125


The stage re-used

How staging can be used as part of an outdoor carol concert, and then indoors as the students serenade while the parents taste their mince pies.

When we first talked about our staging being used outdoors (as well as indoors for assemblies, drama, speech days, and presentations), there were, I must admit, some eyebrows raised.

But my impression is that the idea is catching on, and I’ve heard of a number of schools using our staging so that pupils and students can sing carols as parents approach the school hall for their indoor festivity.  Some have experimented with short outdoor nativity plays – which really mean the lanterns have an impact.

Outdoor events always intrigue students and impress parents, and with staging that is suitable for outside events it means it can be moved around easily.  You can even dismantle the outdoor rig and reset inside during the interval for the second half of the event.

It is because of new ideas like these that have developed in recent years that we ask schools that use our staging to take photographs of the results. 

If you take a look at our website I think you’ll agree that some of these represent really impressive examples of how our staging can be used in a very creative way. 

But many teachers and site managers have reminded us that the flexibility of the staging is not the only consideration when choosing what to buy.  You will also be considering how you are going to store it when its normal location is required for other uses.

Which is why we developed a stage system that can be compacted into such a tiny space that even Dr Who would start to wonder if someone involved in teaching hadn’t cracked the secret of using his famous “relative dimensions in space”.

In fact, in our latest designs we’ve now arranged matters so that a complete stage of up to 40m² can be stored in just 2m² of floor space.

Then there’s the lifetime guarantee. It is hard to imagine what might go wrong with staging, but if somehow in some unexpected way it does go wrong, the guarantee is there.

I do hope you will visit our website and take a look at what other schools have done with our staging. Just click on any of the pictures to enlarge it.  Click on the arrow at the end of the picture, and you’ll see more. And more.

There’s still time to order staging for your Christmas play and events – don’t hit the panic button just yet! A free, no obligation, professional demonstration is readily available, and we’ll show you how to maximise the space in your school hall.

If you would like to know more please do email me at  or call me on 01302 741888.

Tim Gilson

What is a meaningful argument (and how can I have one?)

Everyone has arguments. Some people seem to have them all the time, others back away from them quickly and do anything to avoid any form of confrontation.

But what enables one person to win lots of debates and arguments, while another seems never to win at all?

Of course, force of personality and an access to relevant facts can help, as can be being a confident natural speaker with a winning smile.

But even so there is more – and there is no doubt that when students actually understand the nature of debate and proof they tend not only to get better A level grades and be better prepared for university and/or employment, but they also win more arguments.

In short, for many students it is a grasp of critical thinking which takes them from a C to a B and a B to an A, which delivers a far more impressive UCAS application, and which enables them to be much more persuasive in interviews and presentations.

The problem for students is that the issue of argument and debate is not just common sense. Even if they get to grips with the difference between such concepts as “claims” and “arguments”, there still remain such puzzling issues as explanations, assumptions, counter-claims, evidence, examples, deduction, induction, generalisation…

It is for these reasons that the volume “Critical Thinking” has been written.

For “Critical Thinking” is about far more than just dismantling and evaluating other people’s arguments; it is also about putting together the student’s own explanations and arguments.

Through examples and activities the volume encourages students to develop their considered point of view in essays, reports, debates, etc, and helps them be prepared to stand back and assess their own reasoning.

Critical Thinking is available as a printed copiable volume or as a CD which can be put on the school’s learning platform for use by students and staff.

You can see some sample pages at

Publisher’s reference:T1821EMN; ISBN: 978 1 86083 861 3


  • Photocopiable report in a book: £29.95
  • CD with school-wide rights: £24.95
  • Both the book and the CD: £36.94

Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the report… please quote the order ref: T1821EMN