Fourteen Ways Wasps Are Better Than Michael Gove

1 Wasps die off in the winter. Sort of. A wasp colony will produce a lot of horny males and females in the autumn which will mate and then find somewhere to hibernate. The rest of the buggers get old and cantankerous and really, really want your jam before they die. Michael Gove has never been known to die off in the winter. Records on his autumnal sexual appetites are blissfully incomplete.

2 Wasps are pollinators. Much as it pains me to say this, wasps do serve a useful purpose. They’re not just wee, yellow and black sacks of stinging badness. They will forage for nectar and in doing so, carry pollen around like bees with bad attitudes. I’m not completely sure what Michael Gove is for, any more than he is himself but I’m certain he has never pollinated anything.

3 Wasps eat pests. Every summer, whenever they’re not ruining your picnic, wasps eat 14,000,000 tonnes of caterpillars and greenfly which would otherwise further lay waste your garden. Where do they find the time? They’re always after my ham sandwich. Michael Gove eats things from Waitrose. He’s one of the pests the wasps should eat.

4 There are innumerable cures for wasp stings. The one everyone seems to mention is goose dung. There is no know cure for Michael Gove but throwing goose dung at him might be worth a try. Failing that, the entire goose.

5 A wasp can only hurt us one at a time. Michael Gove can screw things up for millions before he’s finished his cornflakes.

6 It’s not illegal to spray wasps with a nerve agent. While spraying Michael Gove with a nerve agent might give you a few passing moments of satisfaction, it’s only a small step from that to gassing everyone who doesn’t agree with you. Even I can see that much.

7 See also hitting wasps and Michael Gove with a rolled up newspaper.

8 Wasps cannot be expected to have empathy and are only being wasps when they sting you on the bum when you’re having a wee in the countryside. Michael Gove, while he has not as far as I am aware has not stung anyone on the bum, has shown little empathy for the communities he has fucked over in his ideological slap-fest in the Conservative Party. We’re just collateral damage.

9 There are seven species of wasps in Britain varying in unpleasantness and aggression. There is one Michael Gove and he is invariably unpleasant. I think most of us could take him if he became aggressive though.

10 Wasps harbour no ambitions to become prime minister and tell us all how to live our lives. Michael Gove slipped a bit the last time he tried to shin a bit further up the greasy pole.

11 Wasps make impressive nests out of paper. They are skilled engineers and architects. They can do it by chewing up strips of wood and then spitting it out, a bit like you probably did to make pellets for your pea shooter. Am I projecting? Michael Gove has made nest for himself by chewing up facts and regurgitating them in new, curious and not entirely accurate ways.

12 The Asian giant hornet can fly at 24mph. It’s a right bastard of a thing and you can probably never outrun it. Michael Gove can’t fly, I have no idea what his 10k time is like but you can probably outrun him. I had to get running into this somehow.

13 There are social wasps and solitary wasps. There is only a solitary Michael Gove. Nobody wants to be Michael Gove’s friend.

14 Wasps come in a wide range of colours, not only the familiar yellow and black. For example, there is something called a tarantula hawk which is not a bird but is an inch and half long and blue and orange in colour. It hunts tarantulas. Fucking tarantulas. Thank little Baby Jesus it’s a solitary wasp. Michael Gove only comes in gammon colour.

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More Than One Way To…

I was going to say skin a cat but that’s a very unpleasant image. English idioms can be horrid at times.

For an avowed technophobe, I’m fond of the few toys I have and understand. I use my Garmin watch to record all my training and even my yoga practice, such as it is. I enjoy following science and engineering and probably know a surprising amount about current genetics, particle physics, medical science and chemistry for a retired art historian. I’m still quite shite at maths, though. Of course, I’m particularly interested in how research in physiology might be applied to sport. I really should do that sports science degree.

Anyway, I spotted a link on Twitter (thanks Kate Bevan) to an article on WIRED about something called a DNA boot camp. Spit in a cup, send off your gob to a testing service, wait for a bit then take the results with you to sunny Ibiza where kindly instructors and coaches will tailor a week of workouts and dietary advice to your genotype.

It might be that there is sound, peer-reviewed science underpinning this operation. I haven’t done enough reading of my own to be able to tell whether it’s bollocks. There is quite a lot of dietary advice in particular which is distinctly testicular. I never want to hear another mention of superfoods or the prophylactic effect of consuming chocolate, red wine, sprouts or anything else.

Everything We Eat Both Causes and Prevents Cancer

This article on is an interesting exploration of why medical studies in particular are problematic for the layperson to understand. We rely on our experts to sift and assess the morass of often conflicting results from single studies. Doctors and other scientists get training in epidemiology and  statistics to help them understand what makes a good study and a significant result and this is what the rational person relies on for advice.

A less rational person might follow what passes for health advice in newspaper or magazine where the time-pressed journalist has to go with information in press releases from university public relations departments and follow ups with whichever expert will return a phone call or email.

Some might even look at the table above and conclude that they should just give up eating altogether if they want to avoid cancer, or eat everything on the list three times a day to prevent it.

It’s worse again when someone is trying to sell something on the back of “science.” For obvious, male-gaze reasons, I tend to think of Jennifer Aniston and “Here comes the science” when someone tries to use flannel and hand-waving to flog a new thing.

Sorry about that. Dated, isn’t it?

Anyway, the science bit in this thing about DNA bootcamps is beyond my ability to assess, as I said. It might be that the dietary and exercise advice is sound but I would have to rely on Christof Schwiening or Andy Matson for advice on that. I will note however that the cost of a week at this DNA bootcamp is from a fulsome and effusive £2,295. That’s whole-hearted pricing in a time of austerity. It’s one more reason to be sceptical about the whole thing. Someone wants to make money from all this sciencing.

I have no problem with paying for expert advice and coaching. I do just that for my yoga classes and kettlebells when I have the time to go. I get a lot from both of them. I would love to go and do some warm weather triathlon training too and that isn’t exactly cheap but the coaching at the ones I’ve seen is excellent.

What worries me most about the DNA boot camp is that it doesn’t seem much fun. As we discussed earlier this week, in order for an exercise regime to stick it has to be fun and as it happens I have something to share which is just that.

Carrie Bedingfield set up Run For Your Life as a means to get people out running and having fun in a supportive, low-stress, joyful way. The group she established has been meeting on Monday evenings on Coleridge Road for some time now and is thriving. She wants to expand the programme to make it more widely available across the city and its environs. The idea is to make running less of a chore. It shouldn’t have to be hard work, pounding pavements on your own. So, Run For Your Life will have small groups of up to eight runners with an experienced run leader or coach along for advice and encouragement. You will have support whether you’re starting an exercise programme from scratch or returning to running after a break.

I think it’s a brilliant idea so I will be hosting one of the groups in Cherry Hinton on Thursday evenings. I have committed to four sessions to see what the response is like and if there is a demand then I’ll continue. It won’t cost anything. You won’t need to spit into a cup, change your diet, run all the time, or do anything other than turn up in high-viz and ideally say “Thank you” at the end of the session. Please tell your friends. Carrie would like to expand beyond Cambridge so contact her via the Run For Your Life website if you’d like to know more. She’s lovely.

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