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What's my home worth?

The truth is ...

I became vegetarian about four years ago. There were two reasons.

Peter Matthews

One was to slow down the inexorable expansion of the waistline which was becoming difficult to ignore. Then there was the added benefit of not being party to any unnecessary cruelty to animals. For most of my life I have experienced a sense of unease in relation to being a carnivore. I am prepared to accept the notion that the presence of canine teeth in my mouth indicates that humans have eaten meat for a very long time - but it does not mean I should, merely that there is an undeniable precedent for it.

Another benefit of being a vegetarian has been that it has given me the opportunity to inform people that the word 'vegetarian' does not, in fact, come from the word 'vegetable'. Rather, it is derived from the latin word 'vegetus' meaning to thrive, to be healthy. This often comes as a surprise to people - as it did to me when I learned it courtesy of Stephen Fry and the team on the wonderful TV programme QI.

Having decided to write about it this week I thought I'd better confirm my superior knowledge before disseminating it through these pages.

And it turns out I am wrong! The main culprit for this pernicious bit of misinformation was one Professor Mayor who became president of the Vegetarian Society in 1883, although even he admitted that the assumption was a bit shaky. The much more obvious derivation of the word is correct and I take back, from all who have witnessed it, the supercilious air with which I delivered the untruth.

While I am on the subject I had better deal with 'chairman' and 'foreman'. I have unselfishly and on many occasions given people the benefit of my knowledge that the 'man' in these words is derived from the latin 'manus', meaning 'hand'. Therefore the terms 'chairperson' and 'foreperson' are not only intensely irritating but also wrong, the correct terminology being 'Madam chairman' and 'Madam foreman'.

Wrong again!

I wheeled this one out only last week to a couple of politely interested colleagues at the Citizens Advice Bureau. It is nice to be able to tell people something they don't know, but if one is going to run the risk of coming across as a bit of a smart arse, one ought to get the facts right first.

Unless of course it's just a personal opinion, in which case, all's fair.

And it's my opinion that the most sensible conclusion to draw from the enormous amount of research which has been, and is still being, done on climate change, is that it is human induced, mainly by the past couple of generations, and it is reversible. I'm just not convinced that we will live long enough to see it reversed.

Here's something else I know: If you hold down the space bar on an iPhone keypad you can move the cursor with it. Genius!

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