Assuming the skeleton under the Leicester car park is Richard III, were he alive today would he qualify for the equestrian Paralympics team? How difficult would his condition have made riding into battle?
I thought he’d lost his horse.
Rod White, Barrow-in-Furness
Richard III is thought to have had scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine that can involve twisting, and the shoulders and hips being out of alignment. It is surprisingly common, with around four in every 1,000 having it, and the impact varies widely. For more information about scoliosis, visit the Scoliosis Association.
The classification rules for the Paralympics state that athletes with a physical or visual impairment are eligible; I think Richard would have qualified.
If the Leicester corpse is Richard, he might well, reflecting historic responses to disability, have described himself, as Shakespeare does, as: “Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time/ Into this breathing world, scarce half made up/ And that so lamely and unfashionable/ That dogs bark at me as I halt by them.” However, perhaps after this glorious British summer, Richard might regard himself more positively if he had scoliosis today, as I do. Almost certainly, given what we know of his drive and his exploits on the battlefield, he could have royally topped up the London 2012 medal hoard.
Agnes Fletcher, Great Missenden, Bucks
There is no reason to assume scoliosis would have impaired Richard’s abilities. Both Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have scoliosis, as do many other athletes and dancers. All reports of Richard’s battle prowess, not least his final charge at Bosworth, indicate his condition in no way affected his abilities as a soldier.
Kim Harding, Barnard Castle, Co Durham
What is the atheist equivalent of “bless you” when someone sneezes?
Gesundheit! When I was a child in the US, this is what I was taught to say when someone sneezed. I heard it as “gazoontite” and assumed it was a nonsense word. As an adult I realised it is German: gesund is related to English “sound” (as in safe and sound) and means healthy; heit is equivalent to our suffix –hood, so gesundheit means healthiness, or health.
The response to a sneeze in many languages means “health” or “to your health”. In Spanish it is ¡salud!, which is fun to say because it has the same rhythm as achoo! However, I would suggest “wassail“, from the Old English wes hal, which means be hale: be healthy!
Hannah Bailey, Oxford
Would you like a paper hankie?
Angela Bogle, Bakewell, Derbys
“Inoculate you”? And I can’t help pointing out that there’s no reason why atheists can’t say “Bless you”.
Why did the Lone Ranger wear a mask? It would have singled him out from all the other rangers, and it was pointless when there was nobody else around …
I always understood that the Lone Ranger was a wealthy man, probably well known in public life, who was operating in secret, like a sort of 19th-century western Batman; and whose philanthropic work as a lawman would have been compromised if his identity were known. Who else but a wealthy philanthropist could afford silver bullets, thoroughbred horses and smart white suits? And more to the point, why was he called The Lone Ranger, when he went everywhere with Tonto?
Francis Blake, London N17
Baden-Powell wrote in an early edition of Scouting for Boys regarding attack by a perhaps rabid dog that the best tactic was to hold a stick or something similar in front of you (presumably with both hands), which the dog would attack. Lacking a stick, something like a handkerchief was better than nothing. I would have thought Baden-Powell had the experience to know, though it could just be a wizard wheeze. I have also read that ramming your arm down its throat is effective.