Monday, September 09, 2013

Having my cake

I spent four days last week taking photos at the annual conference of the Royal Society of Statisticians in Newcastle. One of the exhibitors had a gigantic cake to celebrate 10 years of their magazine. They were running a competition to guess the weight of the cake. I was persuaded to have a go. Guesses had to be in grammes. As this was a statisticians conference, I could hear lots of people working out interesting formulas with lots of variables. References were made to the density of flour, the weight of eggs and the thickness of icing. I am no statistician so was reduced to comparing the size of the cake to a 20kg sack of wheat. After all, I'm familiar with sacks of animal feed as a poultry keeper. I therefore came up with a guess of 15kg. I added a few grammes, handed in my entry and headed off to take more photos.
On Thursday morning I collected a bottle of champagne as first prize in the competition! I was only 36g short off the actual weight. Not bad for a guess based on a sack of animal feed!

Alas, the prize I was told I had won this morning is less useful to me. In August I went to the Gilsland Agricultural Show and bought some raffle tickets. I was phoned this morning to be told I had won a prize of paint-balling tickets. I’ve only been paint-balling once before. It was about 10 years ago and it was with a certain Tim Farron, before he was elected MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale. It was one of the activities we tried out on his stag weekend. You weren’t allowed simply to run around a woodland and shoot up at your own friends. Instead, you had to take part in group activities with people you didn’t know that were run more like military campaigns. My abiding memory is of my getting fed up with people who worked in offices through the week but at weekends wanted to be little soldiers who took the whole experience far too seriously. I abandoned the mini-macho men after a while and returned to my car where I did something useful (I fell asleep!)
I suspect I will be looking for a good cause to which I can donate the tickets when they arrive.

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