Thursday 6 September 2012

Olympic Nerves

I am sure psychologists would be able to pick out those who have ever been students of comparative anatomy by asking what comes into mind when they hear the word Olympics.

The response is, of course, the mnemonic for the cranial nerves that begins, On Old Olympus('s) Towering Top. I was introduced to it by Harry Hadwen, a very good biology teacher, when we began A Level Zoology by dissecting a dogfish. Hacking away the cartilage in the head of a dogfish reeking of formalin, though, was never my idea of fun. He said he had been taught, On Old Olympus's Towering Top A Finn and German Viewed Some Hops but that another version had become popular after the First or Second World War ending in, A Fat, Armed German etc. We soon realised that this was merely an intermediate stage to the final version the previous generation had developed: On Old Olympus's Towering Top A Fat-Arsed German Viewed Some Hops. That's the now politically incorrect version that  stuck in my brain and is an automatic response to Olympics.

I wonder what version the Greeks use.

I see there are some very rude mnemonics for the cranial nerves that do not involve Mount Olympus. Harry Hadwen would not have approved of them.