Faded Facts
Faded Facts
Facts and trivia, which may be of interest!

Newspaper cutting: Christmas advert of international direct dialling for British Telecom International(at the time still) part of the Post Office.
| EXIT | Faded Facts | IDD | Trivia | UK Mains Wiring | Chinese New Year(s) |


Facts and trivia which may be important, or of general interest. New items will be added periodically.


International Direct Dialling was once an innovation and not the norm, as it is today. Of course, the telephone network still has times when it can become overloaded, e.g. on Christmas Day when half the world wants to chat. So the advert showed what a typical  automatic congestion announcement might be "Lines to Australia are engaged. Please try later." and then suggested that calls be dialled at a less busy time:

"If you try to telephone your friends and relatives abroad on Christmas Day, you'll be competing with 100 million people all over the world who have had the same idea. If you telephone them early on Christmas Eve or on Boxing Day, you'll probably get through in under a minute."

"Cheap Rate where applicable will operate from 8pm on 24th to 8am on 29th."

Chinese New Year(s)

Of the Dog 29th Jan 2006
Of the Pig 18th Feb 2007 [Pigs are most compatible with Rabbit, Sheep]
Of the Rat 7th Feb 2008
Of the Ox 26th Jan 2009
Of the Tiger 14th Feb 2010
Of the Rabbit 3rd Feb 2011
Of the Dragon 23rd Jan 2012
Of the Snake 10th Feb 2013
Of the Horse 31st Jan 2014
Of the Goat 19th Feb 2015
Of the Monkey 8th Feb 2016
Of the Rooster 28th Jan 2017
Of the Dog 16th Feb 2018
Of the Pig 5th Feb 2019
Of the Rat 25th Jan 2020
Of the Ox 12th Feb 2021


Some lesser known facts...

Bar Codes

The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's gum.


"The Box that changed Britain" BBC Four (May 2010) - More than 40 years since the first container was shipped to the UK.

"Containerisation is so efficient that it  costs less to ship goods to Britain from China than it does to drive them up the motorway to the nearest town or city."

"Poet Roger McGough narrated the extraordinary story of how a simple invention - the shipping container - changed the world forever and forced Britain into the modern era of globalisation. With a blend of archive and modern-day filming, the incredible impact of the box was told through the eyes of dockers, seafarers, ship spotters, factory workers and logisticians. From quayside in huge container ports to onboard ships the size of four football pitches, the documentary explained how the shipping container has transformed our communities, economy and coastline."

The Maersk Salalah container ship can carry the equivalent of 8,750 containers-worth of cargo. The yard at the Port of Felixstowe is Britain's biggest container port.

The 'Sea Fever Season' on BBC Four supported the National Maritime Museum (www.nmm.ac.uk).

Illuminated Steps?

Why do many escalators have a lurid green light underneath them which can be glimpsed between steps at the top or bottom?

Liz Devine in London W1 explains:

The green lights seen on escalators are called demarcation lights and simply aid passengers in clearly identifying the boundary line between the steps.

The light comes from fluorescent lamps mounted under the escalator steps at the upper and lower landings - the most dangerous sections of an escalator because these are where people get on and off.

The use of the green lights comes from the fact that the colour green, being at the middle of the colour spectrum, is particularly visible to the human eye in areas where the light source is from fluorescent bulbs or incandescent lighting.

[Taken from 'Questions' Daily Mail, 18th December 2004]

Tennis Balls

Yellow tennis balls were introduced at Wimbledon in 1986 for better visibility.
The last time white tennis balls were used was in the final for the mixed doubles of 1985. Miss M. Navratilova and P. McNamee played Mrs P.D. Smylie and J.B. Fitzgerald. McNamee and Navratilova won the match, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.

Torqueing Nuts?

What is the purpose of the yellow tear-shaped pieces of plastic around the wheel nuts of buses and heavy goods vehicles?

Simon Cooper of Surepoint Ltd explains:

Wheel Nut Indicators
"These are called loose wheel nut indicators and are available under two brand names including our own, Surepoint. They are intended to ensure that any loosening of the wheel nuts of buses or HGVs is immediately noticeable."

Photo: Light Straw Archive
For many years the only way to check if wheel nuts were coming loose was to walk around the vehicle checking more than 100 nuts by tapping them, or by applying a torque wrench to each nut. This created its own problem; over-tightening of the nut.

Loose or overtight wheel nuts popping off wheels were thought to be instrumental in ten unnecessary deaths a year. In 1990, engineer Peter Brawley created the loose nut indicator so that wheels can be checked visibly.

The idea has been adopted almost universally as the fastest and most accurate method of checking the wheel nuts of public service vehicles."

[Taken from 'Questions' Daily Mail, 29th November 2003]

UK Mains Wiring
why it's BROWN FOR DANGER IN 1970
Prior to 1970, mains flexes (e.g. plug top wiring) used the colours red, black and green, which was also used from the fuseboard to the socket outlets. Over 35 years later, harmonisation required that for new installations, the wiring from the fuseboard would (finally) match the brown, blue, green and yellow of the revised flex colours!
Why did the colours change?

Peter Miskelly writes: "In case you are interested the red, black, green to blue, brown, green-yellow change in mains flex was because of the red/green colour blindness in some people. The result was that on occasions when wiring a plug, the red and green wires were unwittingly exchanged by a person suffering from this condition, thus the worst possible combination of colours resulted in the case of the appliance earth (should be green) being connected to the live terminal and the appliance case becoming live when plugged in."

Why would you need to wire a plug?

Well, prior to 1995 appliances were sold without a pre-wired plug.

The Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994 came into effect replacing the Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1987 and the Electrical Appliances (Colour Code) Regulations 1969.

From 1 February 1995 manufacturers and importers who supplied (listed) domestic electrical appliances had to ensure that the appliance was correctly fitted with an appropriately fused and approved standard plug.

New colours after March 2006
From about 2005, the colours of the live and neutral wires in electrical cables for new work, changed from red and black, to brown and blue. These colours matched existing wires in flexible leads in portable appliances.

For new work, you could have used cables in the old colours of red and black until 31st March 2006, but now all new wiring must be in the new colours.

From 1st January 2005, people carrying out electrical work in homes and gardens in England and Wales also had to follow new safety rules in the Building Regulations. For major work, like adding new circuits to your home or garden, the local authority building control department was required to be notified, or the work had to be carried out by a qualified electrician who would taken care of the new rules for you.

New, consolidated Building Regulations came into force on 1st October 2010 to provide efficiency and accountablity with minimal red tape!


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