My life and the coriolis effect

YOU know that feeling you get that you’re running round in circles?

It’s not just a feeling!

It’s the coriolis effect. The same thing that sends vines curling up trees and water swirling down plugholes.

It came to me in the bath. It’s a relief, I can tell you. My wife says the reason my life is spiralling — clockwise — down the drain is because I’m a slob; but there is scientific evidence out there that it’s something to do with the earth spinning and with living in the southern hemisphere.

My wife says I would still be spiralling into permanent slob-hood if I lived in the northern hemisphere, but I’d be doing it anti-clockwise instead, and we’d still be broke – in any direction.

She also says there is no reason why I should be spiralling down. She says I could spiral up, like one of those vines, if I showed a bit of resolve, and frankly she doesn’t care whether it’s clockwise or anti-clockwise.

I guess that would be like those snails whose shells spiral the opposite way to the common herd (do snails come in herds?). They’d be the ones with a lady snail behind them, going on about how the verandah needs redecking.

I suggested all this to my wife — from the bath — while she cleaned her teeth. She said it was stuff and nonsense. So I conducted a little experiment, then and there, to prove the coriolis effect is true. I rang my mum. In England. Which is in the northern hemisphere.

“Hello Mum, do me a favour and fill the bath.”

“But it’s midday here. I can’t take a bath at midday.”

My mum is 76.

“I don’t want you to get in it. I just want you to fill it. With water.” (She’s 76).

I heard her trot off. She came back eventually. “Is there a war on?”

“No. I’m doing an experiment. Is it filled yet?”

She trotted off; came back. “Not quite.”

“That’ll do. Now, I want you to turn the water off and let it settle.”

When she came back she said, “It’s settled. Are you all right?”

“Perfectly. Now… go and pull the plug out and tell me what happens… Mum…?”

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Just go and do it.”

She came back. “Done.”


“Well what?”

“Well, what did it do?”

“It ran out of the plughole, you idiot. What did you expect?”

“Yes, but which way?”

“I don’t know. You never asked me that.”

“Go and look. Quickly! And tell me if it’s draining clockwise or anti-clockwise.”

While she was gone I pulled my own plug. The water muttered and grumbled round my ankles while it made up its mind, then it galloped down the plughole.

Straight down. It didn’t even turn its head.

My mum came back to the phone. “Straight down,” she said.

“Straight down! It can’t go straight down!”

“Why not?” piped up my wife, sardonic observer to the last. “Yours did.”

“But what does that prove!” I yelled. My mum had hung up.

“That you were right,” said my wife smugly. “Your life is just like the bath water. Straight down. And it’s just cost you a $40 phone call to prove it.”