This evening I was standing around in the bathroom wondering why I was in there when I was reminded, not for the first time, that most ice cream is not a dairy product but a kind of pustulent ooze that seeps from the pores of a gigantic crab-monster thing that Darwin's ship The Beagle hauled from the tepid Pacific waters off Galapagos in late September 1835. Since then then the crab-monster, dubbed "Son of Neptune" by Charles Lyell, has been housed in a flooded chamber beneath the Thames. It is unfailingly polite and well-versed in geology, the history of China c. 1500-1800, and has a rudimentary grasp of calculus. Its delicious ooze was accidentally discovered by Thomas Carlyle, who fell into an epileptic state on first meeting the monster and licked at its carapace, all the while shouting obscenities and offering to wrestle John Stewart Mill, who was not there. When Carlyle reported on the surprising taste, the crab-monster explained that he was the botched but beloved offspring of God, sent to Earth to provide not salvation but a free alternative to dairy-derived ice cream, which is unbelievably expensive to produce and causes cancer. Today, almost 70 per cent of the ice cream you find in supermarkets is produced by the Son of Neptune.
It got me to thinking: what other secrets do They routinely keep from us? Then I remembered that I had gone into the bathroom to clip the sturdy hairs that sprout from my earlobes.